Welcome to the July edition of Bord Bia's Ireland Market Foodservice Newsletter.
This week saw the publication of a €5.2BN Government July Stimulus package. Supports for the hospitality industry include a ‘Stay and Spend’ tax rebate worth up to €125 per person to assist in the off-season (based on a spend of €625). The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) will be replaced by the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) from 1 September until 31 March 2021 and there is a package of measures to boost cash flow for businesses, including reforms to how trading losses can be carried against the previous year and tax warehousing. Although the standard VAT rate has been cut from 23 to 21%, no reduction was made to the hospitality VAT rate of 13.5%.
General Industry News
Return to expansion for construction sector
Business Post – 14.07.2020
Activity in the construction sector returned to expansion for the first time in four months in June, according to Ulster Bank. The bank produces a monthly index designed to track changes in construction activity, which is gauged on a scale of 1 to 100, with 50 the break-even point. The index had been below 50 since March, signaling contraction in the industry. It went as low as 4.5 in April. The measure of 51.9 posted in June was up substantially on the 19.9 recorded in May, when construction sites around the country slowly returned to activity.
Growth in consumer confidence
Business Post – 24.07.2020
Consumer confidence grew again in July, according to new data from KBC Bank Ireland. It marks the third consecutive month of growth in the bank's sentiment index, although the rate of increase was lower than in May and June, and the index is still well behind the figure from July 2019. Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Austin Hughes, KBC Bank Ireland chief economist, said the slower rate of recovery recorded in July could reflect the slower rate of economic reopening undertaken by the government.
Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) & Pub Sector
32 Republic of Ireland McDonald's outlets reopen dine-in areas
Hospitality Ireland – 23.07.2020
New health and safety measures at the 32 restaurants include serving customers via table service only and asking customers who choose to eat-in to leave the name of the lead member of their group, the number of people in their group, a phone number, the date and time of their visit, and the restaurant number, which is identified by a sticker on each table. Additionally, upon their arrival, customers will be asked to use the hand sanitiser provided and follow the safety measures laid out to help keep them, other customers and restaurant teams safe, and McDonald's is asking customers to use contactless payment methods as much as possible.
Reopening of pubs delayed by three weeks
The Journal– 15.07.2020
Cabinet ministers agreed to postpone the reopening of pubs under Phase 4 from 20 July to 10 August. The changes come after serious concerns were raised at a meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team on the re-opening of pubs, given the rising number of cases of Covid-19 in the country. Pubs that serve food were permitted to re-open at the beginning of Phase Three on 29 June under stringent guidelines.
Hotel & Restaurant Sector
Hotels report occupancy rates of between 23-26% for summer months
RTE Business – 09.07.2020
Hoteliers here are reporting occupancy rates of between 23 and 26% for the summer months, according to figures from the Irish Hotels' Federation. This is based on confirmed bookings and compares to an average 90% occupancy over the summer months last year. The IHF said that occupancy for September, traditionally a popular time for US visitors, currently stands at 22%. Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, the IHF president, said the substantial drop in occupancy levels highlighted the unprecedented challenges facing the sector and the requirement for immediate interventions to support tourism businesses.
Boxty House restaurant in Temple Bar closes indefinitely after 32 years
The Irish Times - 20.07.2020
The business was heavily reliant on overseas tourist trade, accounting for 90 per cent of its trade in the summer months. Owner Pádraig Óg Gallagher held back when restaurants were permitted to reopen on June 29th, and finally lifted the shutters last Thursday, in the hope that Temple Bar’s many pubs would be back in business on Monday. But with pubs now closed indefinitely, and his restaurant operating out of a largely shuttered and deserted area of the city centre, he has had to rethink. The Boxty House had offered a takeaway service during the Covid-19 crisis but that will not continue. “The takeaway in the city centre didn’t really work for us. The city centre is dead, completely dead.”
Casusal Dining & Contract Catering Sectors
Titanic Belfast to reopen on August 1
Hospitality Ireland - 23.07.2020
According to The Belfast Telegraph, the popular tourist attraction's closure will have cost the Northern Irish economy approximately £20 million in additional spending. The attraction has implemented a number of new health and safety measures for its reopening, including the requirement for visitors to book in advance of arrival, prearranged time slots, reduced capacity, sanitisation stations and social distancing measures.
Guinness Storehouse cuts jobs as it prepares to reopen
Irish Examiner - 02.07.2020
The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin is to lay off staff when it reopens as the popular tourist attraction prepares for a drop in visitor numbers. Closed since March, the Guinness Storehouse is set to reopen for business this month. The company said: “The Guinness Storehouse is currently working on preparations for reopening in July, having been closed since early March. The tourism sector is expecting significantly reduced international visitor numbers for an extended period of time in Ireland, and the Guinness Storehouse must plan for its reopening on that basis.”