Post-Brexit port options in France, golf tourism, and ‘no haggle’ car sales

Business Today: the best news, analysis and comment from ‘The Irish Times’ business desk

Fáilte Ireland will take a fresh swing at the lucrative golf tourism market in 2019 as part of preparations to offset the impact of Brexit

Fáilte Ireland will take a fresh swing at the lucrative golf tourism market in 2019 as part of preparations to offset the impact of Brexit


The Government is willing to see the Brexit deal re-opened if the United Kingdom wants to stay in a permanent customs union with the EU or allows for Northern Ireland specific measures to avoid a hard Border. Fiach Kelly reports that sources in Dublin said the withdrawal agreement - which the EU has publicly so far said is the only deal on the table - could be negotiated again if Britain moves from its own so-called “red lines”.

Simon Carswell writes about a visit to Dublin by political and business leaders from Normandy to discuss contingency plans for Brexit including cargo ships travelling directly to French ports to bypass the UK “landbridge” to the EU. French officials outlined plans for the ports of Cherbourg, Dieppe and Caen-Ouistreham in order to be prepared for the UK’s departure from the EU on March 29th. They assured Irish business figures and officials that the French ports would be ready for a hard Brexit as a result of a €30 million investment for checkpoints at the three ports.

The volume of mergers and acquisition (M&A) involving Irish companies is at its highest level since at least 2005, according to a new study by Investec. However, it said it did not expect the same levels to be repeated this year, partly as a result of Brexit uncertainty being “fully upon us”.

As the UK heads towards another round of Brexit votes in parliament, Chris Johns warns that investors are fooling themselves if they believe a benign Brexit is on the cards. “If something is agreed before the end of March, the current turmoil will be described as the phoney war. The shooting, the trade talks, will then begin. And it will be even more brutal than usual.”

Fáilte Ireland will take a fresh swing at the lucrative golf tourism market in 2019 as part of preparations to offset the impact of Brexit. Tourism chiefs are concerned that a relatively strong euro versus sterling will hurt visitor numbers from Britain to Ireland this year, prompting renewed focus on maximising high-spending visitors from North America. More than 200,000 overseas visitors play golf in Ireland every year and up to 50 per cent come from the US. Each golf visitor from North America is worth up to €1,800 on average to the Irish economy, which is three times more than a leisure visitor - and 80 per cent of their spending is on activities not related to golf.

Joe Duffy Motors, one of Ireland’s largest motor dealer groups, is launching a new used car supermarket network promising a ‘no haggle’ buying experience with fixed prices, while also offering motorists the chance to sell their cars, without having to buy one in return. The first Zucar outlet will open in Cork in April, with future store opening in Limerick, Dublin and Drogheda. The cars will be sourced from the group’s 14 franchise outlets but also by buying stock direct from consumers who would otherwise have advertised their vehicles privately on websites like DoneDeal.

New evidence of how ad auction companies, including Google, profile internet users based on sensitive personal information, including diseases and disabilities, has been provided to data protection authorities as part of formal complaints about the online ad industry. The complainants said official documents from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the organisation that makes the rules for online ad auctions, reveal categories for targeting internet users include one titled “IAB7-28 Incest/Abuse Support”.

Former Tánaiste and Minister for Health Mary Harney has joined the board of nursing home group Brindley Healthcare, one of the largest privately-owned operators of nursing homes in the State. She was introduced to the company by BGF, a growth capital investment company that recently put €10 million into Brindley. Ms Harney has taken positions on a number of boards in the healthcare sector since retiring from politics in 2011. They include the boards of the Irish Hospice Foundation, the Irish pharmaceutical group Pharmed and Biocon, the publicly quoted Indian biopharmaceutical group. She was also appointed chancellor of the University of Limerick last year.

Supermarket giant Tesco is set to cut about 15,000 jobs and close meat, fish and delicatessen counters as part of a deep cost-cutting plan in its UK operation, according to reports in the British press on Sunday. A spokeswoman for Tesco Ireland declined to comment on the report or whether similar measures were being planned for Tesco’s operations in the Republic.