Gary O’Donovan – new NOffLA Chair

The National Off-Licence Association has appointed Gary O’Donovan as its new Chairperson with Cathal McHugh becoming Vice Chair.

Gary holds a BA in Economics and Sociology and has run the Cork-based O’Donovan Off-Licence group – one of the biggest independent off-licence groups in Ireland – since 2003.

A member of the Champagne Academy since 1994 and awarded the WSET Diploma in 1995, he also founded the annual Cork Wine Fair and opened the Cork Wine School in 2010. He’s been lecturing for the Wine Development Board of Ireland for over 15 years and has been Vice Chairman since 2010.

Outgoing Chairperson Evelyn Jones is to remain with the Association as Government Affairs Director.

“Reversing the decline of the independent off-licence sector will be a key priority during my tenure, as will be seeking to have the ban on below-cost selling of alcohol reinstated,” commented Gary O’Donovan.

Evelyn Jones explained her new role as one that will allow her to focus solely on the taks of engaging with decision-makers to ensure that the off-licence sector is best represented.

“Building on the work to date, there are a number of priorities we will be looking to engage with Government on in 2015,” she said, “These include the publication of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, the introduction of a statutory code of practice for the sale and display of alcohol and a ban on below-cost selling of alcohol.

“Fundamentally I will work with the NOffLA management team on an on-going basis to represent our members and their key issues as independent experts and SME businesses invested in communities across Ireland.”

Evelyn has been NOffLA’s Chairperson since 2010 having worked within the organisation since joining the off-licence trade in 1991 when she took over The Vintry in Rathgar.

She’s one of the most visible members of the drinks industry, where she regularly features on the media and before members of the Oireachtas raising matters such as reversing excise and tackling irresponsible retailing practices.

Evelyn studied business and accountancy and worked as an Auditor before entering retailing.

NOffLA’s Vice Chair Cathal McHugh has been in the independent off-trade for 20 years as part of the McHugh Group of independent off-licences, mixed-retailers and a restaurant in Dublin. A multi-award winning retail group, the McHugh family has been involved the off-trade since 1963. Cathal himself completed three years of Business Studies before joining the family business in 1993.

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