Wednesday 21 March 2018

The Punt: Cheaper drink may silence pub chain's critics on social media

BUSINESSES just can't afford to ignore social media any more. Twitter and Facebook commentary can change a company's reputation within days – we've seen lots of examples recently, including the public whipping that a nightclub received after refusing entry to a person in a wheelchair.

The latest business to feel the wrath of the Irish online community is British pub chain JD Wetherspoons. Within days of the company announcing plans to open five branches in Ireland, a group called 'Feck Off Wetherspoons' had nearly 2,500 followers on Facebook. The group describes the chain as "soulless" and "zero-craic". On Irish forums like, a chain on the same subject has attracted 500 comments.

Big businesses aren't the only ones who need to pay attention to what is being written about them online. Bad reviews on sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp can make or break a company.

Of course, we're betting that many of those voicing their criticism of Wetherspoons haven't yet picked up on one important point – some are predicting that the entry of UK chains to the Dublin pub market will drive down the price of drink. Will loyalty to the traditional Irish pub be enough to steel consumers against the lure of a cheaper pint?

Muldoon to clean own back yard?

FIONA Muldoon, along with outgoing financial regulator Matthew Elderfield, has been a breath of fresh air at the Central Bank since her appointment in August 2011.

She is a plain speaker and hasn't been afraid to pull punches when needs must.

At an economics conference in the University of Limerick this week, the top central banker claimed lasting regulatory reform would only come about with a changed mindset in both the public and private sectors – and that implementing structural change in the public sphere was more challenging than in the private sector.

Her comments are topical, coming just weeks after statistics revealed that about 500 staff at the Dame Street bank work just 32 hours per week and amid efforts to increase the hours to just over 37.

Nothing new here.

Back in 2011, it was revealed that two-thirds of staff at the Central Bank were working 32.5 hours a week, despite being one of the state agencies tasked with tackling the biggest banking crisis in the history of the State.

The Punt does not subscribe to the notion that the public sector has been immune to the effects of the crisis. But Ms Muldoon hit the nail on the head. The Punt wonders if her statement was directed, at least partially, at certain practices within her own organisation.

Tweet nothings at Ryanair love-in

Everyone was agog at Michael O'Leary's admission at yesterday's AGM that the airline has become a little bit softer.

The Punt nearly expected the Andrex puppy to spring out of Charlie McCreevy's lap and into O'Leary's arms. But amid all the new-found fluffiness, there was plenty to chew on.

O'Leary said that talks with Boeing about an additional aircraft order were still on-going and that the pair were currently involved in design talks.

An order – which O'Leary said could still be on target to be made by the year end – would come on top of the 175 aircraft Ryanair already ordered from Boeing earlier this year.

O'Leary also said that Ryanair was looking at launching internal flights in Poland and that Cork, Kerry and Knock airports were likely to see some additional services next summer.

A new Ryanair website design will also fully come on stream in December, and then there's the new Ryanair Twitter page.

O'Leary said that since its soft launch, about 2,500 'twits' had signed up to it. By yesterday afternoon, the number had hit over 3,600.

Already though, The Punt notices that it has been cleansed of comments that were posted on it by regular punters. And no sign at all of the Andrex puppy.

Irish Independent

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business