Thursday 14 December 2017

Wrong address leads to Dublin-Dubai name-calling

The Address Downtown Dubai has threatened Dublin’s North Star Hotel with legal action
The Address Downtown Dubai has threatened Dublin’s North Star Hotel with legal action
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

What's in a name? cried Juliet as her star cross'd lover Romeo lamented the havoc their surnames wrought on love's young dream. Quite a lot, it seems, if a nascent dispute over the name, or is it 'The Address' used by a luxury hotel in Dubai and a more modest one in Dublin is anything to go by.

The award-winning 'The Address Downtown Dubai' is a 63-storey luxury hotel and the jewel in the crown of Emaar Properties, Dubai's largest listed developer with a market cap of almost €14bn. Readers may recall seeing distressing images on New Year's Eve, 2015, when 'The Address' Dubai was engulfed in flames.

Thankfully, no one was killed and Emaar, the self-styled premium lifestyle provider which has hotels, malls, ice rinks and zoos in its massive portfolio, is on course to recover €300m from an insurance claim over the dramatic fire at its 'The Address'.

So how does Dublin come into this?

Well, the name 'The Address' - bear with me - is also being used by the North Star Hotel for its new extension at the impressively-refurbished Dublin 1 auberge.

The North Star is owned by the McGettigans, the hotelier family which recently secured control of its Regency Hotel after the group was placed into - and subsequently plucked out of - examinership.

The McGettigan Group was given a new lease of life after Broadhaven Credit Partners - the alternative lender backed by US private equity giant Bain, and financier Dermot Desmond - injected €35m into the family business. Prior to its recent court woes, the McGettigans, who own a superpub in Dubai, of all places, poured some €15m into the upgrade of the North Star, with its 'The Address' the centrepiece of its revamp.

But Emaar aren't happy with The North Star using their address, or is it their name? So confusing. Now I hear 'The Address' Dubai has threatened legal action against 'The Address' Dublin demanding that the latter change its name etc.

The Irish are no strangers to international trademark disputes with Pat McDonagh's Supermacs still slugging it out with McDonalds. Can the minnows take it all in the name of the game?

Google could do with tax break - to let staff cash in

Google HQ in Dublin is hosting the Irish ProShare Association (IPSA) on Thursday at an event extolling the benefits of employee share ownership.

Ireland lags behind the rest of Europe in this regard - with 6pc of employees holding shares in the company they work for here compared to an EU average of 21.7pc.

The IPSA - the voice of employee share ownership here - says this is because the tax system is too restrictive.

"Companies which are part or fully owned by employees perform better. They are better placed to attract and retain talent, their staff are better motivated because they have 'skin in the game'," said IPSA chief executive Gill Brennan, adding that the Revenue-schemes are too costly for some SMEs.

A mischievous observer might point out that Google could probably give IPSA a few tips about tax efficiency.

But we wouldn't dream of it.

Amazon-Whole Foods deal a warning for grocery sector

That Amazon-Whole Foods $13.7bn mega deal is counter-intuitive in one sense, in that it seems strange for an e-commerce merchant to make a move into bricks and mortar in this day and age.

But the transaction will significantly beef up Amazon's capabilities in food as it seeks to become the West's dominant retailer. It's Amazon's biggest-ever deal and will increase the pressure on US rivals like Wal Mart.

Irish food companies like Kerry Group and Glanbia have already been engaged with Amazon about selling their products via the website and a deal like this must be causing a few jitters in grocers on this side of the pond. We tend to be a couple of years behind the US in terms of technological trends, but Irish retailers can't be complacent about getting their houses in order when it comes to e-commerce.

With Retail Excellence Ireland sounding warnings about the health of retail parks, the time to act is now.

Sunday Indo Business

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