Tuesday 18 June 2019

Samantha McCaughren: Quintessential sets sights on new premium Irish gin

Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Quintessential Brands is about to start hiring for its new €10m Dublin 8 distillery and visitor centre, which will promote two of its Irish whiskeys - The Liberties and The Dubliner - when it opens later this year.

The company first dipped its toe in the Irish market with its Irish cream liqueur business in Abbeyleix, which makes Feeney's and O'Mara's Country Cream, as well as a range of own-brand variants for supermarkets. But whiskey has evolved into a key part of the business to become the British group's next largest business segment after gin.

Recently-appointed marketing director Shane Hoyne, a Kilkenny man who has worked for the likes of Heineken and Bacardi, is now pushing out the premium labels for the group in Britain and Ireland.

He told me that its Irish whiskey is now being sold in 50 countries, with 10 new locations added since the start of the year.

However, next on Hoyne's agenda is an Irish gin for Quintessential Brands. "

"The Irish gin sector has exploded with a load of different gin offerings and some really interesting ways to create gin and has created something different to the UK gins," he said. "We absolutely will be looking at developing an Irish gin once the distillery is up and running." It will be aimed at the upper end of the market. "All Irish products should be able to command a premium around the world," he added.

Student digs plans booming with O’Flynn development

Boomtime Cork home-builders Dan and Denis O’Flynn are back with a proposal for a new development in Wilton, Co Cork, in the south of the city.

Their company Minkbury is planning a large student accommodation project. According to the documents submitted to An Bord Pleanala, the development would comprise 228 bed spaces — 47 apartments arranged in three blocks which would vary in height from four to six storeys. The development, which will no doubt cause a bit of a stir in the suburb, is close to CIT and would also appeal to UCC students. It is the latest in a raft of student accommodation projects planned for the city. The redevelopment of the former Square Deal furniture premises on Washington Street West got the go-ahead in May after objections were withdrawn. The scheme from Summix WSC Developments will provide bed spaces for around 200 students. Summix also plans a 146-bed student complex on the city’s Farranlea Road, Sunday’s Well.

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The Playwright pub was a landmark bar in south Co Dublin for decades, but Margaret Heffernan is planning to woo Blackrock residents by bringing the new high-end Dunnes Stores offering to the site.

The pub was bought by Ciaran and Colum Butler, who hold the Starbucks licence for Ireland, in 2014 and they subsequently got planning permission to turn it into a shop. Speculation was rife that Lidl or Aldi would snap up the prominent corner site but Dunnes is seeking permission to erect its signage at the new store.

It is perhaps fitting that Dunnes will now occupy the premises. The pub’s past owners include Tom Moran and Arthur Ryan, the man credited with the success of Penneys/Primark who learned his trade from Ben Dunne Sr, Margaret’s father. Leaving historical connections aside, the move to the Playwright site is a wily one. Heffernan will no doubt hope that her upmarket food range will win over some of Marks & Spencer’s customers base at the Frascati Centre, also in Blackrock.

AIB executive lends her expertise to the 30% Club

In these times of heightened awareness of gender equality – or the lack of it – I can reveal that AIB has entered into a timely relationship with the 30% Club.

The organisation is a voluntary international movement of companies committed to better gender balance at all levels of business. It launched in Ireland in January 2015 and is now supported by the leaders of over 200 Irish businesses and organisations across various sectors, including agri-food, financial services, tech, professional services, construction, semi-state and the public sector.

AIB is not just giving lip service to the 30% Club — it is seconding a senior member of the bank’s HR team to work with the body for a year. Gillian Harford is the former head of diversity and inclusion at AIB. She has held several senior HR and strategy roles within the bank and she will now work with the organisation to help it expand in Ireland.

No doubt demand for its expertise will be on the rise as companies brush up on their gender equality obligations.

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We may be in the middle of the school summer holidays, but Galway-based health supplement business Revive Active is busily working on a new product timed to coincide with back-to-school shopping.

Owner Daithi O’Connor told me that he has been working with Kerry Group to develop products aimed at children and teenagers. Junior Revive and Teen Revive both contain Wellmune, a product from Kerry Group which is derived from yeast and is clinically proven to naturally strengthen immune cells.

Unlike other supplements aimed at children, the products won’t mimic sweets. After working with Kerry it was decided that the supplements, which will hit the shops in the third week of August, should be tasteless and odourless and so can be added to drinks or yoghurt. Revive Active employs 22 people and will soon recruit two more. Turnover is due to top €5.3m this year, with products available in 1,000 shops here and Selfridges in London. And O’Connor is planning to launch in the US next year.

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