Industry News

Well Done Fashion Retail Academy!!

The Fashion Retail Academy (FRA) has been rated as Outstanding by a recent Ofsted assessment! Retail Week have reported that the FRA received Ofsted’s highest possible rating in every area of its curriculum. Among other areas, it listed employer partnerships, career progression and teaching quality as outstanding.

We were delighted to visit the Fashion Retail Academy on our September Retail Study Tour to London and have them give us an insight into how the Academy operates. Createdin 2005 by founding members including Arcadia, M&S, Next and Tesco, the employer-led college now works with more than 130 digital, luxury and high street retailers.

Similar to Retail Ireland Skillnet’s Work-Based Education model, the FRA’s courses are developed to give students an in-depth knowledge of the retail fashion sector whilst also being equipped with the practical experience of the work environment.

We very much look forward to working with the FRA in the future and would like to congratulate the team on this fantastic achievement!

November 15th, 2016|Industry News|

Online Sales Hindered by Inadequate Irish Broadband?

Despite the fact that Ireland is home to many of the big internet companies such Ebay and Google, many of our domestic small and medium enterprises are lacking an online presence. A large proportion of potential business is being lost to international and UK retailers. (More here)
According to a digital scorecard issued by the European Commission (read more here) the average percentage of small companies in Europe who sell online is 26 per cent. In comparison, figures from Ireland’s domain registry, IEDR, show that a mere 9% of Irish small and medium enterprises have the ability to process online sales. Further to this,  a whopping 37% have no online presence at all.
“The evidence suggests that Irish retail is losing out at fairly remarkable levels to international online retail businesses,” said Thomas Burke, director of Retail Ireland. (Source:
ISME (Irish Small and Medium Enterprise Association) CEO, Mark Fielding cites the clear reason behind these figures – the inadequate broadband service, particularly in rural areas; “It is not a lack of finance, expertise, interest or understanding that is holding businesses back from developing an online presence; it is broadband.”(more here)
The ISME have demanded a new emphasis on e-commerce, in particular for retailers, to allow them to future proof their business through investment in training and infrastructure. The organisation claims Ireland is an export-focused economy that is allowing the vast majority of retail businesses to miss out on the e-tailing and export opportunities offered by trading online (Source:
Tom Burke suggests one way to encourage online sales: “… there should be almost like a tax credit set up, so that any money that is allocated to an online presence for a retailer could [...]

June 14th, 2016|Industry News|

Prince Charles visits LyIT!

Letterkenny Institute of Technology welcomed HRH The Prince of Wales to the campus last week and Retail Ireland Skillnet got a front row seat!!

As Retail Ireland Skillnet’s main office is based at LyIT’s CoLabs (the incubation and innovation centre for the North West) this was an exceptional opportunity to get out of the office for couple of hours and we were delighted to be part of this historic event.

Prince Charles visiting the LyIT was a fantastic meet and greet session with students, staff, local enterprises, companies and start-ups showcasing the institute, Letterkenny and the community of Donegal to our Royal visitors. Here are just a snippet of some of the pics:


(The last one is our particular favourite, an excited selfie as Charles’ car passed in the background!)
Click here to read more about the visit on the

June 3rd, 2016|Industry News|

Brexit and The Irish Retail Sector

The UK will hold a referendum on June 23 to decide if it will stay in or leave the European Union. At present the debate is a close one with just over half at present favouring a ‘stay’ vote.

So what would it mean for the Irish Retail Sector if Britain were to withdraw from the EU (or ‘Brexit’ as it has become commonly known as)?
Many of the high street stores we visit on a daily basis see are UK-based retail chains, such Marks & Spencer, Boots, Next and Tesco. Typically, these chains supply their stores from a central distribution warehouse where a single large delivery supplies all the daily/weekly needs of these individual stores. This is far more efficient than having every manufacturer and wholesaler make deliveries to individual shops and has enabled retailers to dramatically cut costs and in turn, prices for their consumers.

If the UK leaves, it is likely we will have to implement EU customs controls on everything coming from the UK.
If Brexit were to occur, these large deliveries/containers would have to pass through customs who would check what duties were applicable on each of the products in the container…a process that could take an inordinate amount of time.
For many of our stores, EU customs barriers would make the current retail model unsustainable and, even if the firms persevered, the time delays and expense of such a change would be significant.While Irish customers might not care about the misfortunes of British retailers, they would certainly care about the major increase in prices which the new regime would entail.
Customers may also have to wave farewell to some of their favourite UK high street stores. These retail chains may [...]

Retail Ireland Skillnet has moved to LyIT CoLab!

Retail Ireland Skillnet has moved premises and joined a hub of business activity with its new office based at the Letterkenny IT CoLab.

This new premises offers a range of outstanding facilities including high-spec office and research units, shared reception services, meeting and training rooms, the latest telecommunications technology, and a communal networking area; with up to 28 other businesses operating from this shared centre.

Some of our RIS Steering Group joined us for the official opening last week…see the pics below!

We look forward to the exciting opportunities this move will bring!  

Dublin City Centre’s Transport Study – Retail Ireland’s Reaction

Retail Ireland today released their statement on the controversial plans proposed by Dublin City Council to ban private cars from large parts of the city centre:
Monday, 10 August 2015
New measures proposed under the Dublin City Centre Transport Study are likely to make large portions of the city entirely inaccessible to shoppers who prefer or need to travel by car, and would have a very serious and damaging knock on effect on city centre retailers, according to two leading industry bodies Retail Ireland and DublinTown. The groups said many of the study’s recommendations were vague and called for any new proposals for city centre transport management to first be subject to robust impact assessment.

The groups warned that the joint Dublin City Council and National Transport Authority proposals to displace private car access to, through and within the core city centre zone will negatively impact not only local residents and commuters, but also those that wish to visit the city centre to shop, do business and spend leisure time. They would create enormous problems for shops trying to get goods to store, and for customers trying to bring purchases home. The proposals comes at an already challenging time for city centre retail, with intense competition from suburban shopping centres, the closure of Clerys, ongoing criminality and anti-social behaviours, and Luas construction work.

Data from the CSO indicates that Dublin is home to almost 10,000 individual retail and wholesale companies. The industry directly employs 27% of Dublin’s entire private sector workforce – a total of some 70,000 people. The overwhelming majority of large city centre retailers have expressed grave concern at the plans as currently set out and the impact they would have on footfall and [...]

August 10th, 2015|General Retail, Industry News|

Irish Employers – Minimum Wage or Living Wage?

News broke this week that Ikea will be introducing a ‘living wage’ for its entire Irish staff from next year as part of plans to offer “meaningful” pay to all employees. Unlike the National Minimum Wage (which is not based on the cost of living) the ‘living wage’ is based on the concept that work should provide an adequate income to enable individuals to afford a socially acceptable standard of living.

A group of unions and other campaigners have pitched the living wage for Ireland at €11.50 per hour, and although it’s not yet known on what basis Ikea will calculate its rate, the company already pays above the minimum wage in Ireland with rates its hourly rates starting from €9.77.

This follows from the Low Pay Commission’s recent proposal that a rise of 50c per hour to the minimum wage should come into practice, bringing the rate from €8.65 to €9.15 per hour.

Business groups have complained that the proposed rise will risk the economy’s fragile recovery by leading to cuts in hours and jobsas a result. The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) said the move would create false wage expectations across the economy. Employers group Ibec stated that the economic evidence showed the case for an increase did not stack up. Speaking on the same programme, Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín, said the Low Pay Commission was not doing what it should be doing, and most people in work who were in poverty would not be affected by this increase. He said most people on the minimum wage were dealing with increasing rents and ballooning costs, and this figure of a 50c rise would not be sufficient to help those people.

On the other hand, Unions [...]

Iconic Dublin Site Set to Become Top Tourist and Shopping Facility

Work on a €90 million redevelopment of Dublin’s historic Iveagh Markets is to get under way this spring, more than 20 years after its regeneration was first proposed. Temple Bar publican Martin Keane’s plans to turn the area into Dublin’s version of Covent Garden are on track and The Irish Independent estimated that the project will create over 1,000 jobs.

Keane told Shelflife Magazine of his plans for the project; “The idea is to do an Irish version of Covent Garden with farmers’ markets, art and craft sections, and retailers selling Irish tweeds and clothing.” Describing the project as his “lifetime dream”, the owner was keen to highlight the fact that the properties are not in Nama and are debt-free (Source:

The project includes plans for a market, a hotel, a pub, a number of shopping outlets and a performance area. A restoration project for the area was proposed by Dublin City Council in 2008 and was first approved by An Bord Pleanala in August 2007 although the building has since lain empty for many years.

Much of the preliminary building work has now been completed on the new project and it is estimated to be completed in March 2018. We look forward to seeing the outcome of this huge development project and hope that it will offer a whole new dimension to the Irish retail experience!

                   Iveagh Market as it currently looks                                                                      Covent Garden in London

Retail Ireland Skillnet Exploring Work Based Learning in Europe!

Oran Doherty (work based learning facilitator at LyIT) and Sean Carlin (Network Manager of Retail Ireland Skillnet) were recently invited to Belgium to deliver a keynote presentation on the development and delivery of work based learning programmes. This ‘Masterclass in Work Based Learning’ was held in University College Leuven-Limburg and attended by employers and academic representatives.

It presented an exciting opportunity for Retail Ireland Skillnet to view the best practice of work based learning in Europe. All these events are important in providing Retail Ireland Skillnet the opportunity to network with the projects and collaborate with  international work based learning practitioners.


Irish Consumer Rights Law Set to Change

The government has published the scheme of a new Consumer Rights Bill, which Jobs Minister Richard Bruton says is a ‘historic’ overhaul of existing consumer rights legislation.

One of the main aims of the proposed bill is to clarify the inconsistencies and gaps in consumer rights that have developed through years of overlapping legislation at primary, secondary and European level.

“There is a basic imbalance in contracts between consumers and the people they purchase goods and services from – that is why we are constantly seeking to improve our laws in this area to provide better rights for people in a changing environment,”
Minister Bruton. Source;
The suggested changes in Consumer Rights Law include:

A ban on gift-card expiry dates
A standard 30-day refund period on all faulty goods
The right to have substandard services fixed or refunded
Legal rights for people downloading or streaming digital contents like music and apps
People given goods as gifts to have the same rights as those who bought products themselves

The proposed rules would, however; only apply to companies who are subject to Irish law, which means firms selling digital products from overseas would not be subject to such legislation.

The consultation period for the proposed legislation is to run until 28th August with charges targeted to start in mid-2016.