Saturday 17 February 2018

The Business Week in 60 seconds with Colm Kelpie

German discount retailers are hot on the heels of Irish shops

SUPERMARKET: A fiercely competitive sector
SUPERMARKET: A fiercely competitive sector
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

THE relentless march of the discount retailer continues, snapping up customers.

German retailers Aldi and Lidl continued to bite at the heels of Dunnes Stores, with new figures last week showing the pair now command a combined 17.1 per cent share of the country's multi-billion euro grocery market.

And for the first time, Aldi breached an 8 per cent share of the market here, underscoring how successful the rivals have been at snatching business from the more established competitors.

BETTING FIRM BOSS ON THE MOVE

PADDY Power took a bit of a beating on the stock market in recent days, with the company closing down almost 6 per cent on Thursday.

Earlier in the week, it was announced that its chief executive Patrick Kennedy was stepping down after almost a decade in the top post.

The departure isn't imminent. He'll stay on for a year – well beyond the legal six-month notice he's required to give – in order to ensure a smooth transition for the group and his successor.

The departure is big news because the bookmaking company is one of Ireland's biggest firms. It has a market capitalisation of €2.8bn and last year made a record €141m profit on net revenue of €745m. Its shares fell 4 per cent on the news. As of Friday morning, the company's stock was down 10.7 per cent year-to-date.

INFLATION STILL 'IN DANGER ZONE'

ON the economic front, the results out of Europe were much weaker than expected this week.

Economic growth remained sluggish and inflation was locked in the 'danger zone' below 1 per cent in April, despite a modest pick up.

The economy of the 18-member bloc only expanded 0.2 per cent on the quarter in the first three months of the year, rather than the 0.4 per cent growth expected by economists.

Eurostat also revised down the economic growth rate for the last three months of 2013 to 0.2 per cent quarter-on-quarter from 0.3 per cent.

The overall picture was mixed, with Germany posting strong growth in contrast to neighbour France, which stagnated.

Not a promising first quarter.

INSURER FINED FOR RULE BREACHES

INSURANCE group FBD hit the headlines for the wrong reasons as the week drew to a close.

The Central Bank announced that it had fined the insurer almost €500,000 for breaches of consumer protection legislation.

The farm and motor insurer was punished by the regulator for failing to uphold several rules designed to protect consumers.

The breaches took place between 2006 and 2011, when they were highlighted to the Central Bank by FBD itself.

An investigation was carried out both by consultants and the regulator.

OFFICE BLOCKS BOUGHT FOR €60M

IT was a property-themed week, after the Government announced plans to boost the construction industry.

On Friday, Hibernia REIT revealed proposals to acquire two Dublin properties from Hardwicke Group in a €60m purchase agreement.

Montague House and Hardwicke House in Dublin 2 are the two Grade A office blocks involved in the partially deferred transaction which will allow Hibernia to secure the deal with an initial €18.25m.

It can then take full ownership of the buildings at any time up to until mid-2016 for an incremental sum of €41.75m.

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