Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe did his best to stimulate home building in the Budget, but the markets are still betting on demand outstripping supply. Last week Glenveagh Properties made its debut on the stock market, making it the first Irish homebuilder to float in two years. It carries a valuation of €700m.
One of its founding directors, John Mulcahy, is one the country's longest serving property experts. Dubbed 'Mother' Mulcahy for his ability to nurse a deal, he claims to be one of the very few people to have called the property crash.
The Dublin man joined Jones Lang Wootton in the early 1970s, going on to become the managing director and then chairman of Jones Lang LaSalle. During the crash, his expertise was called upon by Nama, where he devised 'a template for valuing the development loans'.
In 2009, he told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance that it had been a bear for the previous four years. "We sold down our pension fund property assets, which was not a popular course of action at the time. One's speaking-engagement requests become very limited when one is a bear in the market."
This raised a few eyebrows at the time as he continued to be upbeat in 2006 and 2007 in several interviews.
With Glenveagh now listed we can only assume the bear has become a bull.
One51 has long had a stock market listing in it sights but things just keeping getting in the way. The last attempt was thwarted by a number of shareholders, the main one being billionaire businessman Dermot Desmond.
With Desmond out of the way (he has since sold his holding to Canadian investors), it seemed that chief executive Alan Walsh could get the listing ambitions back on track. But now Cavan businessman Seamus Fitzpatrick is having a second go at buying the company, this first being in 2015.
I hear the co-ops are open to selling at the €2.50 price currently on the table. But unlike a listed company the normal ‘put up or shut up’ rules do not automatically apply. This is when the Takeover Panel gets involved in setting deadlines. It would suit One51 and its shareholders to have some structure around the approach, which could easily drag on, so perhaps Walsh and his team will try to bring some timelines of their own.
It appears that Dunnes Stores’ ambitions for its fashion range continues to soar.
Its latest collaboration goes on sale next weekend — and this time one of Ireland’s most renowned designers, Peter O’Brien, has joined up with the Irish retail giant.
O’Brien has spent much of his career in Paris, where he worked at Christian Dior, Givenchy and Chloé. He was also creative director at Rochas, where he spent 12 years designing women’s wear and accessories, and overseeing menswear.
O’Brien returned to Ireland in 2004, working as a ready-to-wear designer as well as designing costumes for The Abbey and the Gate Theatre. Most recently, he created the lavish costumes seen in the Gate’s production of The Great Gatsby.
I hear that 21 pieces will form the collection, with prices ranging from €85 to €375. Dunnes clearly doesn’t see Penneys as its competition but is nibbling away at the Brown Thomas and Arnotts customer base, where O’Brien previously had a small capsule collection.
Lot of people are checking in and checking out in the hotel business at the moment.
The long-serving general manager of Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel, Stephen Hanley, has resigned.
I am told that Paul Downing of Marriott International will step into the role as interim GM until the vacancy has been filled.
Downing has managed multiple properties in different countries for Marriott International over the past 30 years.
Another senior member of the Shelbourne management team, Aidan Dempsey, is moving within the group — he has been promoted to a role at the Ritz Carlton in Dubai.
Meanwhile, Marie Chawke, who spent several years running Aghadoe Heights Hotel and Spa in Killarney, is joining the five-star Dromoland Castle Hotel in Co Clare.
The hotel recently unveiled a €20m upgrade, and after a successful summer period is clearing feeling optimistic about the hospitality market.
As banks retreat from their branch networks, it is good to see that the vacant buildings might be used to enrich some towns around the country.
I see that Wicklow County Council has just bought the former building owned by Ulster Bank (which announced in March that it was shutting 22 branches) at Upper Mall, Wicklow.
While many old city centre banks have been converted to pubs, this modern building over six floors on Main Street will be converted into a new high-tech library. Wicklow County Council has already had great success with its investment in Arklow, which has seen a “phenomenal” growth in user numbers since it opened in April 2016.
The new library in Wicklow town will replace the one at the rear of the Courthouse and it expects to replicate the high growth seen in Arklow.
Investment of over €3m is earmarked for the acquisition cost and renovations.
You could say the council is replacing bucks with books.
In days gone by, plain ordinary hessian sacks would have been the normal packaging for potatoes and other produce. But packaging has now become a sophisticated industry in its own right and a key ingredient in most supply chains. Even hessian has become a premium product mostly seen as 'shopping bags for life'.
In The Workplace
What do you when you're in your 50s and find yourself without a job? Not because you retired with a comfy pension, mind you, but when you still need to find a way to earn a living? Well, among other things, you may write to me.
For a couple of years, we've been told that virtual reality is the next big thing in technology. But it hasn't exactly taken over the world. Many ordinary people, while curious about what VR feels like, don't yet see a role for VR in their lives.