Powerscourt Hotel to build staff accommodation to attract workers

Seen & Heard: Abbott flying 50 planeloads of baby formula to US every week: Leon backers to wind up Irish franchise; Conor McGregor to start brewing stout

The five-star Powerscourt hotel in Enniskerry is seeking permission to build a 56-bedroom staff accommodation block to help it attract workers in the midst of a massive shortage of skilled labour in the sector. The Sunday Independent reported that the hotel has sent in a planning application to Wicklow County Council, and it expects to open the new facility within the next 18 months.

Abbott’s baby formula planes

US pharma giant Abbott is flying up to 50 planes a week from Ireland to the US, filled with baby formula made at its Cavan factory. The US is experiencing a massive shortage in infant formula due to the shutdown of producers and a series of product recalls. The Sunday Independent reported that a senior Abbott executive recently told US politicians at a House committee meeting that the company was flying Irish infant formula to about 12 US cities each week.

Leon winding up Irish franchise

The local backers of healthy fast food chain Leon are winding up the Irish franchise, the Sunday Independent said. The investors, including hotels investor Michael McElligott, have chosen to wind up the chain after a fruitless eight-week search for new equity. It raised €3.8 million in 2019 as part of a plan to open 20 outlets, but it is closing with just three Dublin units. It blames the slow return of workers to offices for some of its challenges.

Kennedy Wilson to sell Dundalk shopping centre

US institutional property investor Kennedy Wilson is putting a Louth shopping centre on the market for less than one-third of the €150 million it cost to build it at the height of the Celtic Tiger. The Sunday Times reported that the company plans to sell the Marshes centre in Dundalk for about €40 million. It bought it for €44.5 million in 2014. It is part of a “glut” of regional shopping centres coming on to the market, as Pat Doherty’s Harcourt Development prepares to sell six malls.

Subsidy scheme for apartment developers

State housing officials say no minutes were taken at a meeting in December between property industry and bank lobbyists and civil servants over the design of a €450 million subsidy scheme for apartment developers. The Croí Cónaithe (Cities) Scheme will award developers subsidies of up to €144,000 per apartment for 5,000 units. The Business Post reports that official diaries show a “stakeholder engagement meeting” took place in December but no records were kept.

Conor McGregor’s stout venture

Mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor has set up a new company to brew stout. The Business Post said the Dubliner had established Forged Stout for the new venture, which he has alluded to on Twitter over recent months. McGregor owns the Black Forge Inn pub in Dublin 12, while he also recently bought the Waterside bar in Howth, according to online publication The Currency. Proper Twelve, a whiskey brand he established, was sold to Proximo spirits group for a price reputed to be more than $500 million.

Dublin Port back on a roll

The Business Post also reported that Dublin Port is almost back at the record levels of freight volume that passed through the facility in 2019. The port’s chief executive, Eamonn O’Reilly, said freight was up 10 per cent in the first five months of the year and is now only 1.7 per cent behind 2019′s record levels, after a dip in recent years due to Brexit and the pandemic.