The Best of the Weekend Business Papers 29 March 2020

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· The Business Post says people will be asked to use a mobile app to help fight Covid-19
· The Sunday Independent says the Irish food industry is facing a major crisis due to the virus
· The Sunday Times reports that staff rewards firm Workhuman has been valued at over €1bn
· The Financial Times reports that Volkswagen is losing €2bn a week due to the virus

· The Wall Street Journal says a record 3.28m applied for unemployment benefits in the US




“Today we live in an Ireland where the pubs have closed voluntarily; it’s unfashionable to bash the HSE and I would get 100 per cent in the Irish oral – I’m not sure which is the most disconcerting.”





“Phone tracking app set to be used as next step to fight Covid-19” is the lead on this week’s Business Post. The paper reports that the government will soon be asking us to opt into a mobile phone “tracking and tracing app” in a bid to fight the spread of the coronavirus. It’s also reported that all medical consultants will be moved to public-only contracts from Monday.

On page six, it’s reported that business owners across the country have been told that their properties will be insured against fewer risks if left unoccupied for a period of time. That is despite government advice that they should close during the current crisis. The risks businesses will lose cover for include damage caused by fire, lightning, explosions and aircraft. Most of the so-called “unoccupied clauses” kick-in after 30 days although FBD said it would extend this time period to 90 days.

After a week which saw the government announce substantial emergency measures to try and preserve jobs and business during the crisis, Peter O’Dwyer talks to business lobby groups to gauge their reaction. IBEC said the measures, which see the government pay up to 70% of workers’ wages (up to €410 a week) if the business has suffered a 25% drop in turnover, would play a “crucial role” in enabling the economy to bounce back. Meanwhile, the Small Firms Association said the package was “along the lines of what it had been asking for”. However, the Irish Hotels Federation warned that the measures were “not nearly enough”.

So should business owners who avail of the 70% wage subsidy scheme “top up” their employees’ wages with the remaining 30%? According to Brady & Associates, a Dublin accountancy firm, the answer is not straightforward as the top-up would be subject to PAYE, PRSI and USC but would not be tax deductible for employers. “Before entering this scheme, employers should carry out a detailed calculation of their employees’ net pay and the implication of the 30% top up over a 12-week period,” the firm says. “Employers who jump into this scheme without calculating the risks could be left with a large bill at the end of the 12 weeks.”

In Brief

· The public sector is unlikely to get wage hikes in the next round of pay talks due to Covid-19

· Taxi app firm Lynk has signed up nearly a 100 small grocery stores for its new delivery service
· Larry Goodman is set to take sole control over the Hermitage Clinic in west Dublin
· Artificial intelligence firm Everseen has raised €3.43m in fresh funding from investors
· Microsoft’s Irish operation paid more than $110bn in dividends to its US parent in 2019
· Greencore is to reduce CEO Patrick Coveney’s annual €315k pension payment

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“Irish food industry faces crisis with loss of major contracts” leads this week’s top business story. Ferghal O’Connor reports that Bord Bia has warned that the industry faces losing “hundreds of millions” due to the impact of coronavirus. He writes that the meat industry has seen a third of its €1bn market in the UK “wiped out” while the seafood and alcohol sectors have also taken substantial hits.In another top story, Samantha McCaughren reports that retailers are seeking “significant support” from the government to help pay commercial rents due this Wednesday when hundreds of millions of euros are due to be paid for quarter two. Meanwhile, industry body Retail Excellence has warned that it will take many shops up to three years to recover from the crisis.Gold is an asset class that tends to do well in times of uncertainty and it appears that the current crisis is providing a boon for Dublin safety deposit box company Merrion Vaults. The company said it was looking to raise up to €5m to fund expansion plans with demand for its safety deposit boxes soaring by 40% in the past month.

In Brief

· Nearly a half of Irish homebuyers plan to delay their purchase due to coronavirus

· Galway online learning platform plans to increase its workforce from 55 to 80

· Wexford logistics firm Scurri has seen a 20% increase in business due to the current crisis

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Dublin-based staff rewards firm Workhuman – formerly Globoforce – is on course for a $1.2bn valuation, according to this week’s top business story. It comes after the firm, which runs employee recognition schemes for multinationals for the likes of Cisco and Procter & Gamble, agreed to sell an equity stake to a UK institutional buyer.As homebuyers postpone their house purchases, mortgage lenders have begun to postpone giving exemptions to the Central Bank’s mortgage restrictions. According to the report, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB have begun turning down mortgage applicants seeking to borrow more than 3.5 times their earnings.Niall Brady reports on a rare good news story for businesses seeking to claim lost earnings on their insurance cover. He writes that Axa has agreed to compensate a limited number of businesses under its “business interruption” policies. However, as always there’s a catch – the compensation will be limited to three months’ earnings and the policy will only pay out if there’s been a case of Covid-19 within a specified radius of a the policyholder’s premises. The company has also warned policyholders that they will have no cover if the pandemic reoccurs.

In Brief

· US tech group Workday has scrapped plans to move into a new office at Heuston South Quarter

· ESB is investing almost €243m to buy a 50% stake in a windfarm off the coast of Scotland
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The FT reports that the world’s biggest carmaker, Volkswagen, is burning through around €2bn in cash a week. It comes as factory closures across Europe and America push in the auto industry into its worst recession in decades. The company has already put almost a third of its 300,000 German workforce on reduced hours.
The fashion industry is another sector being hard hit by the ongoing virus lockdown. It’s reported that revenues from fashion and luxury sales are expected to plunge by as much as 35% this year due to high-end stores being closed.
Turing to the restaurant sector, and Italian chain Carluccio’s looks like it is about to become another victim of the crisis. The paper quotes sources as saying that the UK-based company, which has more than 100 outlets and 2,000 employees, is expected to go into administration “within days”.


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The Wall Street Journal leads with the news that a record 3.28m US workers applied for unemployment benefit last week. It comes as millions of businesses laid off workers as the coronavirus hit the US economy.
In a bid to cushion the US economy from the worst of the virus shutdown, congress passed a massive $2trn stimulus package to support businesses and workers. The bill is the largest relief package in US history and will see the government making direct payments to many struggling Americans.
Finally, despite all the bad news and uncertainty, stock markets enjoyed one of their best weeks in history. The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 13% for the week while the S&P 500 was up 10%. However, both indexes remain down by more than 20% for the year overall.
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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.
Stay safe,  


Shay Dalton 
Managing Director – Lincoln Recruitment
A: 5 Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin 2




© 2020 All Rights Reserved – Lincoln Recruitment Specialists

About the Author

Shay Dalton

Shay Dalton

Managing Director 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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