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Retail body appoints BWG’s O’Byrne as chairman

BWG Foods managing director Willie O’Byrne has been named as the new chairman of Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the sector.

He will serve a two-year term and replaces outgoing chairman Conor Whelan of Eason Group.

The CEO of the Maxol Group, Brian Donaldson, is taking up the role of vice-chairman.

Mr O’Byrne said retailers face a number of challenges, including the fallout from Brexit and rising costs at home.

“Retail is an exciting, dynamic and innovative industry and I look forward to working with the Retail Ireland team to ensure that the many issues facing the sector are fully recognised and addressed during my term as chairman,” Mr O’Byrne said.

Retail Ireland’s strategy paper, ‘Shaping the future of Irish retail 2020’, will be a blueprint for the development of the sector over the coming years, he said.

That strategy includes six key policy requests being asked of the Government:

1. Centralise government support for the retail sector

2. A tax credit to support Irish retailers competing with international online retailers

3. Grow consumer disposable income

4. Reduce the cost of regulatory compliance

5. Increased support for retail training and education programmes

6. Regenerate Ireland’s high streets

“The industry is facing a number of challenges which we as an organisation must address immediately,” Mr O’Byrne said.

“These include the fallout from Brexit, which has already impacted upon consumer sentiment, with retail sales growth softening considerably in the months following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

“We also must work with Government to address the rising costs Irish retailers face which – allied to the emerging threat from foreign online-only retailers – threatens to undermine the future sustainability of the sector.”
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