Happy new year one and all. I hope the year ahead will be a good one for you all but it will no doubt present its challenges too. We can already see these challenges emerging from the increased employment costs arising from the new minimum wage, the introduction of the planned living wage and additional sick pay entitlements. A better standard of living for all is of course the desired outcome but it’s not as simple as just increasing wage rates. Businesses have already faced a few years of tough challenges with unprecedented energy costs leading to the rising cost of ingredients and soaring insurance costs.
I want to thank everyone who engaged with our Minimum Wage Survey, which we carried out over the past few weeks. Without your engagement, we can’t measure how things are going in the industry or how policy changes affect you, your staff and your business. What we learned is that small businesses like pubs, restaurants and off-licences don’t have the luxury of being able to absorb more costs and we can see from the results, that many business owners are planning to hire less staff in order to survive. On page 10, Shane McLave from Excel Recruitment is asking government to acknowledge the struggles of small business and to reintroduce the 9% VAT rate in order to help businesses stay afloat.
Another issue we look at this month is the constant threat of discrimination or public liability cases on business owners. We spoke to publican Peter Collins from Barry’s of Douglas who was involved in a discrimination case involving a member of the Travelling Community. Although the publican won the case, he has had to pay thousands to defend his name, not to mention time, energy and stress that a case like this involves. How do you continue to run a business when you are at the mercy of these threats and how does your business manage these unexpected costs unless they increase the price of a pint, which will invoke the ire of their clientele? We look into this issue in more detail on page 16.
We have lots of good news in this issue too with the coverage from the Irish Pub Awards and the Irish Whiskey Awards. Congratulations to Aunty Lena’s in Adare and to Connacht Irish Whiskey for their recent wins. We have coverage of all the winners from both awards within.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any news or views on the industry. I would be delighted to hear from you.