Wednesday 19 June 2019

Gavin McLoughlin: McKesson warns the Border may bring bitter Brexit pill

Some manufacturers may pull out of Ireland
Some manufacturers may pull out of Ireland
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

A few years back, UDG sold its pharmaceutical distribution division to American giant McKesson in a hugely significant transaction for the industry here.

McKesson is the largest pharmaceutical distributor in the Irish market and last year announced plans to invest €40m in Ireland.

It's also playing an active role in encouraging pharmacies to keep up with evolving consumer demands in areas such as technology and convenience.

So far, so positive. But rather alarming is the statistic that 60pc of the medicines supplied here by McKesson either comes from the UK, or comes through it in some shape or form.

The company is planning to scale up its capacity here, taking a view that manufacturers will want to position more stock here on foot of Brexit, to try and offset risk.

Paul Reilly, managing director of McKesson Ireland, said that if a border is erected between Northern Ireland and the Republic, this will "slow down the process of medicines coming into the Irish market".

"Any slowdown on the lead time either leads to shortages, or somebody is going to have to position more stock in order to offset the lead time," he said, adding that some manufacturers with low volumes here may decide not to service the Irish market at all if the Border causes costs to go up. Yikes.

Kite Lake wants Providence to start flying higher

Hedge fund Kite Lake Capital Management popped up as a notifiable shareholder in Providence Resources this week, with a 5.05pc stake.

Kite Lake is a so-called ‘event-driven’ hedge fund  looking to profit from corporate moves like M&A or restructuring. It was set up a few years back by veterans of Cheyne Capital — one of the City’s best known hedge funds.

It looks like Kite Lake thinks some action is coming at Providence, which is gearing up to drill three wells off the Cork coast in partnership with a Chinese consortium.

All things considered, market reaction has been pretty muted to the plans, but if a commercial discovery is made Providence would probably be a takeover candidate.

It came close to being taken out a few years back but since then it has been a very rough ride for shareholders. Looks like Kite Lake is hoping for blue skies.

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Insurance broker Cornmarket is launching a new travel insurance policy to try and capitalise on growth in the sector.

It’s an annual, multi-trip policy known as ‘Travel Plus’, with worldwide cover including winter sports. It’s betting that a one-size-fits-all plan will be seen by consumers as more convenient than a more selective offering.

The idea is to try and take advantage of a shift in consumer preferences towards multiple foreign trips every year, rather than buying one insurance policy per trip. A growing economy is helping to fuel growth too.

Cornmarket — part of Great-West Lifeco, the Canadian insurance giant that owns Irish Life — also says the “travel bug” is nowadays staying with people well into their retirement.

The insurance broker focuses on public sector customers, including so-called affinity groups, but the product will be available to the public. The company’s public sector focus isn’t going to shift though — maybe those permanent and pensionable folk are less risky.

Illogical Eircode failing to deliver for customers

Can you recite your Eircode without looking? If you are like most people the answer is probably no and it is sitting in a drawer with your iodine tablets.

Don’t feel too bad: even those with potentially most to gain from the €38m location code system introduced in 2015 are largely indifferent to it. A CBRE survey of Ireland’s logistics and shipping industries found just 19pc of operators have adapted their business processes in order to exploit Eircode. Presumably this is the case because the people they are delivering to just don’t bother to use their own Eircode when ordering goods.  

It is a shocking indictment of a system that has been in place during a period when online shopping and the delivery of parcels has skyrocketed. It was always an imperative to bring in a location code system for Ireland for all sorts of good reasons. But perhaps if the codes bore some relationship to the actual geographical location of a premises people might remember them and even use them.

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There are moves afoot in the close-knit world of retail public relations, I hear. Val Forde, who was formerly the in-house communications person at Dunnes Stores, has moved down the M7 to the rapidly-expanding Kildare Village outlet mall. Forde has taken up the role of PR and communications director for the popular fashion village’s owner, Value Retail Management.

It’s not the first time the company has been in these pages in recent months. We reported it had enjoyed sales growth of 21pc and increased footfall, particularly from international visitors, following the opening of a €50m extension in late 2015 — the second extension at the time. Since then, the ambitious retailer has sought permission to extend once more, so Forde is certainly arriving at a time when things are on the up.

And it is double congrats for the PR executive because Ergo understands that not only has she landed herself an exciting new job, but she also tied the knot in recent weeks. Exciting times indeed.

Sunday Indo Business

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