Wednesday 16 October 2019

Samantha McCaughren: Barrister mag proves boom in heading into overdrive

Ellie Goulding serenaded Sheila Martin
Ellie Goulding serenaded Sheila Martin
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Signs that the economy is roaring and nearing Celtic Tiger levels of aplomb and bonhomie are as plentiful as snuff at a wake.

One only has to look to the arrival of The Ivy - the iconic London eatery that has just opened its first international brasserie in Dublin - to see that Ireland Inc has, as it were, got its 'verve' clicquot back.

Or what of the recent nuptials in Adare Manor of developer Greg Kavanagh, the self-described 'Ronaldo of the Property market', who had English singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding serenade his new wife, Sheila Martin, for their big day. Goulding, who recently announced her own engagement to her boyfriend of 18 months, Caspar Jopling, played as part of a two-day wedding festival dubbed 'Harry and Meghan 2.0'.

Now that other economic bellwether, m'learned friends in the Law Library, are to get their own, quarterly lifestyle magazine.

Barrister Magazine is billed as "a unique high-end product with an uncompromising distribution" offering an "exceptional opportunity" for any company wishing to advertise its product or services to a well-targeted and committed audience, such as clothing, cars, legal and financial services, travel, watches, boats and the like.

It boasts a "particular emphasis on the needs and requirements of this important body". Do we need any more proof that the boom is back and in overdrive?

Major American tourism event shuts Ardgillan Park

Last night saw a gathering of more than 2,500 American visitors at a private function in Ardgillan Park in north Dublin. The event — organised by corporate tourism expert Odyssey International — was billed as a “major international event” by park owner, Fingal County Council. It was the finale of a week-long trip for the US group.

The event necessitated the closure of the entire 200-acre public demesne on one of the busiest weekends of the year and saw the installation of a huge marquee.

But the local authority said that renting out the park would promote the area economically “on a worldwide scale from both a tourism and an investment location perspective”.

Funds from the event will also be used  to build new toilets in the park as well as a heritage trail, it said. Regular park users will watch closely, no doubt, for the largesse from the American invasion.

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What now for Aryzta? The share price has been tanking with a stark realisation in the market that the company will have to act quickly to deal with its capital structure. While chief executive Kevin Toland and chairman Gary McGann are grappling with operational issues, its debt levels are now taking centre stage. As revealed in these pages last weekend, Fitch was not amused by manoeuvres at French subsidiary Picard which saw it borrow more money to pay a dividend to shareholders Aryzta and Lion Capital. Aryzta needed the extra cash to keep below its banking covenants.

The highly-respected McGann was welcomed as a new broom at Aryzta when he joined in 2016, but there were some reservations. Proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services, which issues advice for investors, raised McGann’s workload in his role as chairman of Paddy Power Betfair, as well as some other board roles, due to time commitments. Shares fell at the bookmaker last week after the company lowered guidance for the rest of the year. McGann will have his hands full.

Power of marketing slices into sales growth at Domino’s

The sunshine has been great news for cider producer C&C, as well as ice-cream companies and suntan lotion manufacturers.

Eating al fresco has also had a great summer, which hasn’t been such good news for Domino’s, the takeaway pizza company that last week said growth in Irish sales had been slower than expected.

A stock exchange announcement also blamed a marketing campaign in Ireland for negatively affecting growth.

Apparently a campaign launched here at the start of the year — known as the Double Deal — resulted in customer perception of value being damaged. The company closely monitors how its campaigns affect buying patterns and was quick to identify the problems with the campaign.

However, the company said last week that value perception had “not yet recovered”, a clear indication of just how competitive the Irish takeaway market is right now.

However, there was plenty of good news for the pizza company, whose Irish franchise is controlled by Northern Ireland businessmen Charles and Adrian Caldwell. It opened its 50th store, in Dublin’s Ringsend, and plans to open up to 25 more here.

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A shuttered, run-down building on South Great George’s Street in Dublin, which once housed Dockrell’s hardware store and more recently upmarket Indian restaurant Jaipur, is to be transformed into a 100-bedroom hotel. The plan from Grosam Properties, owned by Mark O’Brien and Dave Kelleher of Warren Private, includes a restaurant and three retail units.

In a submission, Bord Failte continued its pattern of supporting planned hotels in the city but there was an objection from a member of public who claimed that rather than improving the area, the plan would in fact have the opposite effect.

Planners did not agree. “In conclusion, the application site is currently a vacant building which is in a state of disrepair and detracts from the character of the South City Retail Quarter Architectural Conservation,” said the council which approved the hotel application last Friday.

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