Saturday 24 March 2018

The Punt: White out at Lir Chocolates

Fianna Fail Senator Mary White
Fianna Fail Senator Mary White

Senator Mary White has resigned as a director of Lir Chocolates, the Punt spies.

Company filings show that her resignation was effective from the end of last November.

Senator White, pictured below, founded the well-known business along with Connie Doody in 1987.

Doody remains a director.

Lir was acquired by UK firm Zetar in 2007 in a deal worth as much as €8m.

Zetar, whose shares had been quoted on London's Alternative Investment Market, delisted as a public company in late 2012.

It was acquired at the time by German firm Zertus, which still owns Lir as part of its portfolio.

Hamburg-headquartered Zertus claims to be one of the oldest family firms in Germany, tracing its roots back to 1826.

Apart from making its own branded chocolates, Lir also makes confectionery for retailers including Marks & Spencer.

About 90pc of Lir's output is exported to the UK, mainland Europe, the United States and Australia. It employs a couple of hundred people at its base in Navan, Co Meath.

The most recent publicly available accounts for Lir show it made a €108,000 profit in the eight months to the end of December 2013.

That compared to a loss of €293,000 in the 12 months to the end of April that year. Senator White turns 71 this year, but she is reportedly planning to run for election to the Dail.

Tide brings Rory across the water

A rising tide lifts all boats. But when the water is high and fish plentiful, new trawlers also tend to arrive in force. Such a tide has carried Rory Godson's City of London-based PR firm Powerscourt to Dublin to open its first office outside the UK.

A former business journalist, Godson knows the Irish business scene like the back of his hand. His firm already looks after the overseas media needs of a clatter of blue chip Irish clients - helping keep the likes of Aer Lingus, Bank of Ireland, Paddy Power and the NTMA on the radar of the London investment community.

In Dublin, Powersourt now has boots on the ground in the shape of Jack Hickey, recently of Q4 PR and previously with Financial Dynamics in London.

Of course Godson's own boots are frequently on the ground here too.

Along with wife Hilary Hynes, in 2013 he famously bought a home on Dublin's upmarket Ailesbury Road for €2.6m, a fraction of its €15m boom-era price tag. The house was previously owned by developer Tom McFeely.

Learning from the best

The British are on a charm offensive to get Ireland to row in behind it in its push for reforms to Europe ahead of a possible in-out referendum in 2017.

The British Irish Chamber of Commerce conference took place yesterday and UK Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps was really talking us up, marvelling at the strength of economic growth here.

It seems that Chancellor George Osborne and Prime Minister David Cameron have been going out of their way to learn from "the best parts" of the Irish economy over the last five years (it must have been a short learning experience in the first few years).

"There is so much about the dynamism in the Irish economy that Britain, in the last five years, under this Conservative-led government, has spent time learning about," Shapps said.

"It is no secret that George Osborne, David Cameron, myself and others in the cabinet in the British government have deliberately gone out of our way to try to learn from the best things that are happening in the Irish economy. "We were impressed at the way you were able to both reduce corporation tax and increase the number of firms who want to base themselves in Ireland.

"So, over the last five years, we've gone out of our way to copy the best parts of the Irish economy including reducing our own corporation tax in what will be the joint lowest in the G20."

Irish Independent

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