Monday 23 April 2018

Storm Emma: Big freeze costs restaurant sector €50m in lost revenue

Photo: Deposit
Photo: Deposit
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

The big freeze is estimated to have cost the restaurant sector alone around €50m in lost revenue, as businesses assess the impact of the weather-related disruption.

Business bodies say their members were well prepared for the storm, but nonetheless insisted that retail, hospitality, transportation and manufacturing sectors are worried about the loss of revenue.

Business lobby groups, for the most part, shied away from estimating the cost in lost revenue, but Restaurants Association of Ireland chief Adrian Cummins said it would be around the €50m mark for his members.

"The weather disruption will cost about €50m in lost revenue for the restaurant sector in Ireland, with many businesses closing due to Government advice and those that have stayed open reporting very little business yesterday and today," Mr Cummins said.

"We will be seeking a meeting with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to highlight the cost to business and its hugely important that the 9pc vat rate is kept for years to come.

"We have advised our members to take precautions and listen to government warnings."

Read more: Irish Stock Exchange closing due to extreme weather hitting Ireland

Dublin Chamber said the time to count the financial cost will be in the coming days, adding some firms will be impacted more than others.

"The poor weather had been well-forecast since late last week and thankfully many firms heeded Dublin Chamber’s advice to put contingency plans in place," the Chamber's head of Public Affairs Graeme McQueen said.

"In terms of retail, Dublin Chamber remains confident that much of the business that has been lost between Wednesday and Friday will be won back once the weather improves. Some of the biggest affected firms will be restaurants and cafes. They'll never be able to re-sell that missed coffee or meal. However, other firms will be ok - if a hair appointment was missed this week it will likely just be re-arranged for next week."

While most retailers in the main shopping areas of Dublin were open on Wednesday, many closed today ahead of the arrival of Storm Emma.

"Those that did open were pretty much all closing early. The expectation was that there would be nobody out shopping from late afternoon onwards," Mr McQueen added.

"The hands of many were effectively forced by the lack of public transport, which meant staff couldn't get in or out to work. On the upside, many retailers are reporting strong activity online, with many consumers using their ‘day off’ to shop on the web. Some of the more savvy shops have reacted quickly and put out special offers to their databases."

Read more: Storm Emma: Have you got the stocks in? Here are all the supermarket trading hours today

Convenience stores reported strong trade as many shoppers stocked up on essentials, with sales of bread, milk and eggs reported to be strong.

Small Firms Association boss Sven Spollen-Behrens said many of the group's members were better prepared  as many were caught out in Storm Ophelia.

"However, especially our members from the retail, hospitality, transportation and manufacturing sectors are hugely concerned about the loss of revenue and the additional pressure this puts on their businesses," he said.

John Hurley, Chief Executive of Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce, said that health and safety concerns had to be at the fore. "There is no merit in any worker becoming “a hero in a hospital” after this event has passed.

"Business will suffer lost work hours and incur increased costs as they secure property in advance of the impending adverse weather and there may be further repair costs to be borne after the event if actual damage is incurred."

Chief Executive of Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce Toni Forrester also said that safety had to come first.

"Letterkenny is very quiet as businesses are taking notice of the Red warning nationwide. It will cost businesses here a lot in lost revenue and they are concerned about that at this difficult time of the year.  However staff in businesses here in Donegal travel from across the county and their safety is of the utmost importance."

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