Friday 23 February 2018

Quarter of nightclubs forced to shut down

Ed Carty

A quarter of the country's nightclubs have shut down because of falling trade and fees for late opening.

A study of the licensed trade has found 130 clubs have closed their doors for good in the last three years.

Barry O'Sullivan, chief executive of the Irish Nightclub Industry Association (INIA), claimed the closures have cost 600 jobs.

"Knowing our industry and thanks to the survey that's about 2,500 part-time jobs in reality," he said.

The INIA said the number of nightclubs dropped from 430 to 300 in the three years to 2010 and the loss to business has been estimated at €54m.

The figures were revealed on the back of an Aviva Health Insurance survey which found Irish drinkers are spending about €2,000 a year on alcohol.

Mr O'Sullivan said a €410 fee charged for every night a club opens is killing jobs and damaging late night economy and tourism.

The former boss of Club M in Dublin's Temple Bar said that unless the price of special exemption orders is cut dozens more nightclubs will close, further damaging local employment.

The INIA will meet Justice Minister Alan Shatter in June to put their cases for the cut in fees.

"The feedback from backbenchers is that they are in the mood for positive change - if it makes sense and it's logical and if there's a good argument for job retention they will look at it," Mr O'Sullivan said.

"I think we tick all those boxes."

The INIA report by Anthony Foley from Dublin City University's business school found that in 2007 nightclubs were open for an average of 4.2 nights a week but this fell to 2.7 last year.

The group claimed that cutting fees for late opening to €200 could create 330 full time jobs.

The report found that a large nightclub operating 300 nights a year and trading 18 hours a week will pay €148,000 for late opening. It said this contrasts with €3,805 for publicans to trade 90 hours a week, or €1,500 for off-licences to open 78.5 hours a week.

"The reduced fee would also allow nightclubs to operate additional nights, generating further income and tax flow to the exchequer. This would neutralise any loss to the State from the reduced fee," Mr O'Sullivan said.

The INIA said an immediate cut in the fee would cost the government approximately €12.2m.

"This reduction will keep people in employment, and would boost night-time economies and our tourist offering throughout the country," Mr O'Sullivan said.

"I am calling on the new government to introduce this measure as an important first-step in boosting the wider hospitality industry - that remains a key sector of the national economy."

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