British coffee chain Pret a Manger to open in Dublin

Seen & Heard: Food price inflation, hauliers angry and Covid travel tests in the news

British sandwich maker Pret a Manger hopes to make some dough from Dubliners, according to the Sunday Times.

The newspaper says the chain plans to open its first Irish shop in the old Starbucks cafe on Dawson Street in the capital. Pret a Manger put plans to move in to the Republic on hold in 2020 after the Covid-19 outbreak.

Lockdowns that forced workers out of jobs or to stay at home led to the group closing 39 outlets in Britain, laying off more than 3,700 of its own staff. Last year the company announced plans to spend almost €120 million on doubling in size by 2026.

Food prices could rise by 5%

Families face sharp rises in food bills in coming months as inflation continues to bite, one expert warns in the Sunday Business Post.

Michael Wallace, professor of agriculture and food economics at UCD, told the newspaper that inflation was starting to take hold in the industry and could hit 5 per cent later this year. “It seems clear to me, based on the data from the final months of 2021, that food price inflation is beginning to pick up,” he said. “There’s a lot of pent-up pressure in the food systems and it’s hard to see that not starting to feed through to prices on supermarket shelves some time this year.

"The latest Central Statistics Office figures show that the rate of food price inflation doubled between November and December, which suggests to me that higher prices are coming."

Hauliers furious with Minister

Hauliers are furious after Eamon Ryan, the Minister for Transport, denied them a temporary increase in the €10 million diesel rebate scheme to incentivise investment in new lorries with lower emissions, the Sunday Times reports.

The proposal for “enhanced and streamlined” fuel rebates met a “wall of negativity”, according to Eugene Drennan, president of the Irish Road Haulage Association. He said the Government’s refusal to help hauliers with the rising price of diesel would undermine the €500 million package of measures announced last week to control the cost of living for households.

Department to treble staff numbers

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment plans to treble staff numbers in its work-permit processing section, the Sunday Independent says.

The newspaper reports that the jobs department has approval to boost numbers in the section, meaning it will be three times the size it was in November.

Staff there are struggling to deal with the highest number of applications the section has received since 2008 as businesses in the Republic rush to plug workforce gaps created by the labour shortage.

Delays in processing applications have prompted warnings from business to the Government. Accountants Grant Thornton recently reported that almost one in four companies believed that difficulties in securing work permits would hinder growth this year.

EasyJet CEO expects Covid test to be a thing of the past

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren believes Covid travel tests are a thing of the past, even if new virus strains emerge. The airline boss tells the Observer that while the UK was one a few countries to reintroduce the measure when Omicron struck late last year, it still ended up with some of Europe's highest infection rates.

“That experiment has now been done. It doesn’t work,” he tells the British newspaper in an interview.

He also maintains that electric and hydrogen-fuelled aircraft for short-haul flying will come sooner than most think. European manufacturer Airbus plans to have a large-scale hydrogen-fuelled jet ready to fly by 2035, while electric planes could be taking off five years earlier, he predicted.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas