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Welcome to the March edition of Bord Bia's Ireland Market Foodservice Newsletter.

A challenging and unprecedented time for all, in particular those at the front line of hospitality and events, and in turn the F&B suppliers that service them.

Articles referencing Covid-19 are up to date at time of circulation, albeit against a backdrop of a constantly evolving situation. As of this morning, there were reports of a rebound in stock markets as ‘stimulus hopes calm panic’.

General Industry News

Irish economy grew 5.5% last year, outpacing European peers

The Irish Times – 06.03.2020

Growth in the State’s economy outpaced European peers again last year, increasing by 5.5 per cent in value to €347 billion, according to preliminary figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO). “Despite significant external headwinds last year, not least slowing global growth and Brexit-related uncertainty, these figures confirm the resilience and momentum in our economy,” said Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe. “Of course, we are now heading into a precarious trading environment as a result of the spread of coronavirus. While primarily a public health and well-being issue, the economic impacts have the potential to be significant,” he said, adding that the country enters this period “from a position of strength”.

Ryanair and Aer Lingus reduce flight numbers due to coronavirus

Hospitality Ireland – 03.03.2020

Ryanair has announced it is reducing its short haul flight programme, primarily to and from Italy, by up to 25% from Tuesday March 17 until Wednesday April 8 due to the COVID-19 virus.The airline said there has been a significant drop in bookings for the late March/early April period as a result of the virus, and noted that there has also been a significant increase in the number of passengers not showing up for flights, particularly from and within Italy.Aer Lingus has also seen a drop in bookings to Italy as a result of the virus and is likewise reducing the number of flights it is running to the country in March.

 

Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) & Pub Sector

Wetherspoon seeking additional development sites in Republic of Ireland

Hospitality Ireland – 18.02.2020

Pub group JD Wetherspoon has revealed that it is looking for additional development sites in the Republic of Ireland to expand its business in the country. Speaking to The Irish Independent, Wetherspoon founder and Chairman Tim Martin said, "We are looking at further sites across the Republic of Ireland. Hopefully, our investment will act as a catalyst for other businesses to invest in the respective areas where we are opening." At present, Wetherspoon is planning to open a new 89-bedroom hotel and pub on Dublin's Camden Street by July of this year as well as a new pub called South Strand on the capital's Hanover Quay later this year and a pub along Broad Street and Arundel Square in Waterford called Arundel Gate, which is also due to open by July. The company is also currently planning to open a new pub in Galway in 2021.

Revenues soar to €23.72m at Boojum

Independent – 07.03.2020

Exceptional and expansion costs at the company behind the Boojum chain of restaurants last year contributed to a 48.5pc increase in pre-tax losses to €970,778. New figures filed by Modern Restaurant Concepts Ltd show that revenues at the business increased by 28.5pc to €23.72m from €18.46m in the 53 weeks to the end of April 28th last. The group's revenues are recorded across the island of Ireland but the bulk of Boojum's growth last year occurred in the Republic where sales increased by 36.5pc to €16.29m. Sales in Northern Ireland increased at a slower rate of 14pc to €7.42m. The casual Mexican burrito restaurant business is led by 2018 EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalist David Maxwell. The business had grown to 18 restaurants at the end of April last.

 

Hotel & Restaurant Sector

Irish restaurants seeing 'jump in cancellations' amid coronavirus concerns, says Restaurant Association

The Journal – 06.03.2020

Some 80% of corporate bookings at Irish restaurants have been cancelled because of the novel coronavirus, according to the Restaurant Association of Ireland. The RAI is calling on the government to implement immediate business supports to keep the restaurant and tourism sector afloat as the number of confirmed Irish cases continues to grow. The epidemic has also wreaked havoc on international business, tourism, and sports events. A number of Irish hotels have seen “significant levels” of cancellations from Italian guests since the Ireland V Italy Six Nations match was postponed. To minimise damage to the tourism and hospitality sector, the RAI is looking or an immediate reduction of the VAT rate to 9% for tourism and hospitality businesses for a minimum period of 6 months.

Jamie Oliver to open ‘great Irish food’ restaurant in Dublin in April

The Irish Times – 12.02.2020

Jamie Oliver has announced that he is opening a new restaurant in Dublin in April. The television chef says Chequer Lane by Jamie Oliver, a 100-seat restaurant on Exchequer Street, “will celebrate some of my favourite comfort food and the menu will be packed with big, hearty flavours and simple, seasonal ingredients: the food I really love to cook and diners love to eat”. He is opening the restaurant three doors down from Fallon & Byrne on Exchequer Street, taking over the locations of the Petit children’s clothes shop and Boulevard Cafe.

 

Contract Catering & Casual Dining Sector

Causeway Capital merges Patisserie Valerie and Bakers + Baristas

www.propelinfo.com – 08.03.2020

Causeway Capital has announced the merger of its two portfolio companies – Patisserie Valerie and Bakers + Baristas – creating a “high-quality” patisserie and coffee group with more than 125 locations throughout the UK and Ireland. The new group will continue operating under its two brands that will retain their existing individual in-store offerings. Bakers + Baristas is a barista coffee and fresh bakery operator with locations in shopping and outlet centres throughout the UK and Ireland. The business has grown sales from £11m in 2015 to £22m in 2019.

Mount Charles wins €10m catering contract at Maynooth University

The Irish Times - 18.02.2020

Outsourcing group Mount Charles has picked up an estimated €10 million contract to provide food and drink services to Maynooth University. The deal will add to the Belfast-based company’s significant client portfolio in the Republic, which includes RTÉ, the Abbey Theatre, the Customs House, the Public Appointments Service, Ordnance Survey Ireland, the National Aquatic Centre and Griffith College Dublin. The Griffith College deal is worth €9 million to Mount Charles, and industry sources speculated that the slightly larger Maynooth deal would be worth about €10 million over the four-year term. The main student restaurant, Phoenix, has been rebranded as Urban Square Food Co and Urban Square Coffee Co. Mount Charles has also launched– Pop – which offers sweet items, in addition to its own Mexican street food brand, Coco Diablo. It has also refreshed a Starbucks cafe already on site.