Retail Ireland Announces New Chairman

Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, today announced Willie O’Byrne, Managing Director of BWG Foods, as its new Chairman. Mr O’Byrne will serve a two year term and replaces outgoing Chairman, Conor Whelan, Managing Director of Eason Group. Mr O’Byrne will be joined at the helm of the organisation by Brian Donaldson, Chief Executive of the Maxol Group, who takes on the role of Vice- Chairman.

Upon his election, Mr O’Byrne said, “I am delighted to take on the role of Chairman of Retail Ireland, Ireland’s foremost representative body for our sector. 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. I further look forward to realising the ambition contained in our new strategy ‘Shaping the future of Irish retail 2020’;  which will serve as our blueprint for the development of the sector over the coming years across four key areas – careers, competitiveness, confidence and community.”

“The industry is facing a number of challenges which we as an organisation must address immediately. These include the fall out 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.”

Retail Ireland has six key policy asks of Government over the lifetime of our new strategy, they include the following:

1. Centralise Government support for the retail sector
2. Introduce a tax credit to support Irish retailers to compete 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

Welcoming the incoming Chairman, Retail Ireland Director, Thomas Burke said “Retail Ireland has been on an exciting journey over the last two years and with the unveiling of our new industry strategy in recent weeks, the organisation stands ready to address the major challenges facing the retail sector over the coming months and years. I would personally like to thank Conor Whelan for his commitment and contribution to the work of Retail Ireland to date, and we look forward to working with our new Chairman and Vice Chairman to further the prospects for our sector in the coming years”.

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