The Best of the Weekend Business Papers 15 March 2020

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THE MAIN TALKING POINTS
  • The Business Post says retailers are bracing for temporary closures due to Covid-19
  • The Sunday Independent says non-essential shops are preparing to be told to close
  • The Sunday Times reports that a “pandemic exclusion” clause will prevent insurance pay-outs
  • The Financial Times reports on a “doom-laden memo” from BA about its survival
  • The Wall Street Journal says Apple is to close all of its stores outside of China
 
QUOTE’S FOR THE WEEK
 

“Acting together we can help save lives.”

– Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on how collective action can help beat Covid-19

 

 

 

THE BUSINESS POST
 

 

 

The Business Post reports that retailers are braced for a wave of temporary closures due the Covid-19 shutdown. Underscoring how many shoppers are staying home, the paper cites figures from Retail Excellence Ireland which show that sales at visitor-facing attractions are down by 80% while sales for fashion and beauty shops are down by as much as 60%.

Also on the front page, Killian Woods reports that property firm Bartra Capital has offered one of its recently developed nursing homes to the HSE for use as a potential Covid-19 hospital. Bartra has also offered to accelerate delivery of hundreds more nursing home beds at other locations so they can be used to treat virus patients. “It’s a time of national emergency so we’re doing whatever we can to facilitate the HSE and the government response”, said CEO of Bartra, Michael Flannery.

Leading page two is the headline “Businesses beg for government support as trading plummets”. According to the report, there are “mounting calls” for the government to step in and provide additional resources to prevent business closures and job losses. The calls come despite a €3bn aid package announced last week to shore up the economy.

Inside the paper, there is an eight-page “Coronavirus crisis” section devoted to the business and economic fallout from the pandemic. John Finn, Managing Director of Treasury Solutions, writes that companies of all sizes should address their cashflow situation and engage with their banks as soon as possible. Meanwhile, employment lawyer Patrick Walshe advises employers under wage pressure as a result of Covid-19 to work with their staff on getting costs down. “Employees can be laid off as a temporary measure to reduce pressure on a company’s budget,” adding that employers should “adopt a graduated approach, such as cutting hours or a general reduction in pay”.

Looking at the bigger picture, what are the predictions when it comes to the overall economic impact of the virus? Ian Guider and Barry J Whyte write that further action may be needed to prevent the Irish economy being sunk. Meanwhile Vincent Boland says Covid-19 is “looking like the straw that tips the world into another recession”.

In Brief

  • Trinity Car Park in Dublin city centre is to be demolished and replaced with an office block
  • Swiss-Irish bakery Aryzta is to retain its US business despite falling revenues
  • Online education company Homeschool.ie has seen a surge in interest in recent days
  • Airline software company Datalex is likely to put a €10m funding round on ice due to Covid-19
  • Utility companies have said Covid-19 will not disrupt water, gas and electricity supplies
  • Ryanair has scrapped plans to open a base in Croatia this year due to Covid-19

 

 

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THE SUNDAY INDEPENDENT
 

 

“Non-essential shops prepared for closure as footfall collapses”, is the lead business headline in this week’s paper. As with the Business Post, the Sunday Independent reports on a huge fall-off in business for shops saying that retailers are reporting a drop of up to 90% in the worst affected sectors. “It is an incredibly challenged time for us”, says David Fitzsimmons of Retail Excellence.

In a sign of the job losses that could be coming down the tracks, Ferghal O’Connor reports that almost 1,000 Swissport staff at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports have been warned of the threat of compulsory redundancies due to the impact of the virus. The aviation company, which carries out check-in and loading operations for more than 40 airlines at Dublin Airport, is warning of “serious, unprecedented measures for very hard times”.

Staying with aviation, and on page two Dan White writes that the airline industry faces its worst crisis as the virus pummels the share prices of airlines. “Coronavirus has turned what had been shaping up to be a good year for airlines into one of the aviation sector’s worst-ever crises”, he writes.

The paper does carry some good communication advice for businesses in the midst of the outbreak. Among the tips given by business strategist Alan O’Neil is to reach out to key stakeholders, form a temporary cross-functional internal steering group and contact your customers. He also stresses the importance of internal communications writing: “Don’t forget to pay due respect to your own people.”

In Brief

  • An Post is installing solar panels on post offices and delivery centres to power electric vehicles
  • Tax firm Mazars says Revenue may need to suspend interest payments on outstanding tax for a longer period due to Covid-19

 

 

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THE SUNDAY TIMES
 

 

Insured businesses being forced to close will have no protection for lost profits because of a “pandemic exclusion” in policies, according to this week’s top story. Niall Brady reports that “disruption cover”, which is standard in most corporate insurance policies and compensates them if they are forced to close due to floods and the like, will be rendered useless due to a “pandemic exclusion” inserted into policies at the time of the Sars outbreak in 2003. The paper says the exclusions kicked-in last week when the World Health Organisation declared the Covid-19 to be a pandemic.

Gavin Daly writes that the global aircraft leasing sector, which is largely based in Ireland, has “heightened vulnerability” due to the Covid-19 outbreak. That’s according to ratings agency Fitch which also said it was actively assessing its ratings on banks, non-bank financial institutions, insurance companies and funds.

Returning to the main paper and Mark Tighe writes that Facebook and Google contractors who work via third-party companies claim they are being treated like “second-class citizens” by not being allowed to work from home like direct employees. One contractor for Facebook said they were told to “chill” when they said they could be at increased risk of infection.

In Brief

  • Staff at Davy Stockbrokers at Cheltenham have been told to self-isolate for two weeks

 

 
The Sunday Times is a digital subscription. We encourage you to support quality journalism and subscribe or buy the physical newspaper. Subscribe here >
 

 

 
THE FINANCIAL TIMES 
 

 

The FT leads with a frightening warning from British Airways in a “doom-laden memo” titled “The Survival of British Airways”. The memo, written by BA Chief Alex Cruz, said Covid-19 was a bigger threat to the company than 9/11. He said the crisis was “of global proportions like no other we have known” adding that the airline was under “immense pressure”.

“Wealth managers ask clients for extra collateral on loans”, is the lead headline in Companies & Markets. The paper reports that wealth managers, including UBS and Credit Suisse are taking no chances and asking their rich clients to stump up extra capital against their loans as the coronavirus pandemic roils stock markets.

With sporting events being cancelled left, right and centre, the sports industry is emerging as another big casualty of the virus outbreak and there is a full-page feature examining the fall-out on the inside pages. It says that in addition to lost ticket sales, the suspension of games is a big setback for broadcasters while sports clubs will also be hit by sponsors with brand exposure deals that are not honoured.

 

 

 

The FT is a digital subscription. We encourage you to support quality journalism and subscribe or buy the physical newspaper. Subscribe here >
 

 

 
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
 

 

 

The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is to close all of its stores outside China until 27 March. The paper says the closure is a “dramatic example of how companies are clamping down on business activity to slow the spread of the virus to their employees and customers”.

Google is set to play a key role in fighting Covid-19 in the US. That’s according to Donald Trump anyway who “thrust the company into the spotlight” at a White House press conference when he said it was building a website that would help stem the spread of the virus.

Finally, stocks made a “stunning rally” in the last minutes of the trading session on Friday pushing indexes to their best single-day gains since 2008. In a sign that investors don’t believe the virus will have a lasting impact on the economy, the Dow rose 1,985 points or 9.4% while the S&P 500 and NASDAQ were both up 9.3%.

The WSJ  is a digital subscription. We encourage you to support quality journalism and subscribe or buy the physical newspaper. Subscribe here >

 

 
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All views are strictly my own brief interpretation of the articles in the various publications and not intended to be comprehensive. 
Please feel free to forward to friends or colleagues and get in touch if you wish to add contacts to the mailing list.
 
Has there ever been an event like this that has dominated the minds of so many us, at the same time, all over the world? I’m not sure there has. It doesn’t matter whether you are in Beijing or Bergamo or Dublin. It doesn’t matter if you are in New York or Liverpool or anywhere else. We are all thinking the same thoughts, feeling the same fears. And that shared experience – terrible and unwanted though it is – is what really gives me hope.
 
Have a safe & healthy week.  
Regards,
Shay

 

 
 
Shay Dalton 
 
Managing Director – Lincoln Recruitment
E: sdalton@lincoln.ie
A: 5 Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin 2

 

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About the Author

Shay Dalton

Shay Dalton

Managing Director

sdalton@lincoln.ie+353 16498583

Shay Dalton is the Managing Director of Lincoln Recruitment Group. Shay is a qualified ACCA Accountant with over 20 years’ experience specialising in the placement of senior positions across a broad spectrum of Accountancy and Finance positions within the industrial and financial services sectors. Having been involved in the establishment of some of the most respected financial recruitment brands in the Irish market, Shay subsequently set up Lincoln Recruitment Specialists in 2008. He also hold’s an MSc in Organisational Management and is a member of BPS, qualified to conduct and interpret psychometric testing as well an EQi testing.

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