Thursday 23 January 2020

It's not the first time self-help has got us through tough times

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Cappoquin Poultry is not the only company where local initiatives saved jobs. Rescue deals tap into Ireland's long history of industrial self-help in many places.

Cappoquin's home county has been among those hardest hit by the current jobs crisis, but has also shown great resilience.

The shock closure of the Talk Talk call centre in Waterford last year with the loss of 575 jobs was a huge blow to the entire south-east region.

The announcement was greeted with shock and anger, exacerbated by the brutally short notice of just 30 days between the decision being announced and the closure of the plant.

It galvanised a group of former Talk Talk managers into action. They set up their own call centre company, Eistech, to tap the local skills base.

Earlier this year Eistech became one of the most unlikely comebacks in Irish business when it announced plans to create up to 200 jobs.

Another local manager who has set himself to grinding out a victory from the jaws of defeat this year is Donegal's Paul Diver.

The manager of the Sandhouse Hotel in Rossnowlagh in Donegal was forced back on his own resources when the 55-bedroom property went into liquidation with KPMG in 2009.

He leased the business from the receivers for two years, until it was put up for sale in an Alsop's property auction in March.

Determined to save the hotel where he had worked for two decades, Mr Diver cobbled together a €650,000 bid that – despite the odds – meant he was able to buy the business at auction for a fraction of the original €6m asking price.

The Cappoquin Poultry rescue deal harks back to the earliest days of the country's co-operative movement.

Irish Agricultural Wholesale Society (IAWS), now part of food group Aryzta, is the oldest and most successful example of producers coming together to ensure a market for their products.

It was created in 1897 to bulk-buy farm supplies for members of the early Irish co-operatives, but quickly took on marketing and distributing of products.

Almost 100 years later, in the 1980s, it bought Boland Mills and Townsend Flahavan out of receivership in an effort to maintain buyers for Irish-grown grain.

Irish Independent

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