39% of Publicans Have Made Staff Reductions in First Quarter of 2013

Over 350 publicans from all over Ireland are in Meath over the next three days for the 40th Annual Conference of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (“VFI”). The VFI represents approximately 4,200 publicans throughout Ireland outside of Dublin, representing approximately 50,000 jobs.
Ahead of the AGM, which is taking place in the Knightsbrook Hotel on Tuesday (14th May), the VFI have released the findings of the most recent independent research undertaken by the Federation amongst its members.
The results echo similar findings in 2011 and 2012 and details more pub closures and redundancies; however the survey has also outlined the deep dissatisfaction amongst the 4,000 plus members with the Government.
86% of those surveyed are dissatisfied with the level of support from Government for Irish business and when one considers that 39% have made reductions in staffing levels in the first three months of 2013 in a desperate effort to stay open, it is clear that members are doing all they can to stay open but feel neglected by the present administration in their fight.
Recent figures released by Revenue outlined that a further 150 pubs closed their doors last year and based on this independent survey and the trends outlined in same, we believe that 2013 will see a further decline.
However what the survey also showed is that publicans are still supporting local sports teams and outdoor events to the best of their abilities and the survey gives an indication of the impact that a ban on alcohol sponsorship of sports and outdoor events would have on grass roots sport and also local events and festivals.
49% of VFI members are sponsoring local sports teams with an average investment of €1,726 per member in those local activities annually. The overall average spend of VFI members is put at €3.5m (€3,425,247) which is a significant investment in local projects and activities.
However the support and investment from local publicans has diminished somewhat with 29% of pubs withdrawing from recent arrangements, mostly due to financial constraints. This is a further sign of the difficulties publicans are facing and the knock on effect on local communities.
Some of the key findings of the independent wide ranging Ignite Market Research survey include:
Government Support:
  • 65% of publicans are very dissatisfied with the level of support from Government for Irish business, with 21% being somewhat dissatisfied
  • 12% were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
  • Only 2% were either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied
Employment Levels:
  • 39% of VFI members have made reductions in staffing levels in the first three months of 2013
  • Only 8% have increased staffing levels in the same period
  • 43% have reduced the working hours of existing staff
Economic Overview (Jan-Mar 2013):
  • For 62% of VFI members business has been slow and turnover down
  • Only 9% have recorded an increase in business/turnover
  • When compared with the first three months in 2012, 36% say that business is down between 1-10%
  • 15% have recorded an increase in turnover when compared with first three months of 2012
Local Sponsorship and Patronage:
  • 49% of VFI members are currently supporting a local sports club or outdoor event
  • 29% have had to withdraw their support with 46% saying they couldn’t afford it anymore
  • VFI members involved in supporting local teams and events do so to the tune of €1,726 per publican
  • Annual support by VFI members towards local sports teams and events is just short of €3.5m (€3,425,247)
  • 73% feel that a ban on alcohol sponsorship would have a detrimental effect on local sports clubs and events as there is a heavy reliance on publican support
President of the VFI, Gerry Rafter, a publican based in Kilkenny city, said, “Unfortunately we find ourselves in a very similar situation to this time 12 months ago with further pub closures and job losses casting a long shadow over our AGM. The Government made a lot of noise in their programme for Government about helping Irish business but as yet we have seen very little action.
“While we wait for the Government to realise the danger that over 50,000 jobs are in, I think it is time that we started to shout about the positive contribution the Irish pub has made and continues to make to Irish society and in particular rural communities.
We all know the positive impact in terms of jobs, facilities and offering a social hub and outlet. But what this independent research now also shows is the impact that the Irish publican has on local sports clubs and outdoor events.
“If a ban on alcohol sponsorship is to be brought in, the Irish Government will have to factor in to this the impact that a loss of €3.5m per annum will have on grass roots organisations and the societal impact of same.”

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