Our top 10 most read online business stories of 2018

Budget 2019, our love affair with athleisure wear and Chris Johns, once more, on Brexit

 

This time of year wouldn’t be complete without – no, not novelty socks – our annual top 10 online business stories of the year. Back in its rightful place, a bit like Dublin, at number one is our Budget 2019 main points story. Others that caught your eye are ones from the ever-forceful Chris Johns, hardy annuals like Ryanair and the fact that yet another sneaker shop is about to open.

1. The budget, what can you say, it rolls around once a year and has more leaks than a Welsh greengrocer but it never fails to grab the eyes. This year was no exception as it tops the league table after ceding the number one spot to lottery millionaire Dolores McNamara in 2017. Budget 2019 played out in the usual style, some kite flying, lots of special pleading and just about everything revealed before the big day. A bit for social welfare recipients, a tweak of the USC and tax bands, a dash of Brexit-proofing and Paschal’s your uncle.

Decathlon is to open a chain of stores around the county.
Decathlon is to open a chain of stores around the county.

2. Our love affair with athleisure wear knows no bounds as our second most-read story testifies. Decathlon, the French sports retailer, beloved of Irish holidaymakers and voted France’s most-loved brands is to open nine stores across the county . Its first outlet will take up residence beside Ikea in Ballymun, which turns this corner of north Dublin in the ground zero of hyper-retail.

The family-owned company is readying the launch of its first Irish store, with nine planned for Dublin, Cork and Galway in the coming years, employing more than 500 staff.

Britain’s former foreign secretary Boris Johnson and the former secretary of state for exiting the EU David Davis.
Britain’s former foreign secretary Boris Johnson and the former secretary of state for exiting the EU David Davis.

3. Our columnist Chris Johns clocks in at number three with the gift that keeps on giving, Brexit. Chris’ view of what’s going in with our neighbours is encapsulated in the headline: Brexit shows that idiots and incompetents are in charge in the UK. Chris has mined this seam with a combination of disbelief and despair since that fateful day in 2016 but, of all of his riffs on this particular topic, this garnered, by far, the most eyes.

The Public Services Card.
The Public Services Card.

4. Data privacy, the use of data to shape political and social events and the monetisation of data is one of the dominant themes of our times. Columnist karlin Lillington, long writing on this topic, came in a number four with her piece on the public services card published the same week as the Government announced that t 3.034 million cards had been issued .

The PSC is a useful tool, an identity card by the back door or the pernicious data-hungry arm of an overweening State, it really depends on which side you come down on. Karlin is firmly of the belief that it should not be used as a national identity card as they have proven vulnerable to hackers and they should never be linked to the opening of social media accounts as this would be a marriage that would end up in hell.

The phtographed released by Ryanair crew showing them sleeping on the floor.
The phtographed released by Ryanair crew showing them sleeping on the floor.

5. Ryanair is never far away from the headlines and this year is no exception as the airline continued to struggle with union recognition and employee unrest. This particular story concerned the sacking of six crewover the “staging” of a photograph released on social media which showed them sleeping on the floor of a room where the crew were staying having been stranded by bad weather in Malaga. Ryanair contended that the photograph had damaged the airline’s reputation, was a breach of contract and duly sacked them.

The North’s Tayto.
The North’s Tayto.

6. Our next story concerns another iconic Irish brand. Tayto and UK high street chains such as Wagamama and TGI Friday’s, along with hotels giant Marriott, were on a list of firms “named and shamed” by the UK government for failing to pay workers the national minimum wage. However, the Tayto in question is the Northern one, which is completely different from the crisp beloved of generations in the Republic and personified by Mr Tayto, who is no relation of the redcoated person that adorns the North’s Tayto packets. London Irish rugby club were also on the list.

Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Silicon Valley, California. Facebook has confirmed it plans to create hundreds of new jobs in Ireland next year.
Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Silicon Valley, California. Facebook has confirmed it plans to create hundreds of new jobs in Ireland next year.

7. Facebook is a troublesome friend for the State, getting our leaders into bother with their international peers over everything from tax to data regulation. However this story wasn’t about such macro-political issues, this focused on what those who work for Facebook Ireland earn. Strange, that in a country where it is more of a taboo over disclosing your income than shouting for England, an awful lot of people read the story that told us the average yearly earnings for Facebook staffer is €154,000. Bet nobody posted that on their news feed.

Barclays bank is to move some operations to the Republic

8. We have a fascination for companies moving to the Republic because of Brexit, maybe its schadenfreude, maybe it’s the prospect of a job with them but they do do well, for whatever reason. The story told us that British bank Barclays would ask the UK’s high court to allow it transfer business worth about €250 billion to the Republic as the lender stepped up its Brexit preparations.

Austrian data privacy campaigner Max Schrems.
Austrian data privacy campaigner Max Schrems.

9. Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems has long been in the news and he wasted no time when, just hours new EU data privacy regulations (GDPR) came in, he launched his latest challenge to Facebook, and a new suit against Google, accusing them of “coercing” users into accepting their data collection policies. European data protection bodies promised to work closely with their Irish colleagues on the multi-billion-euro complaints filed by Mr Schrems.

Bank of Ireland chief executive Francesca McDonagh
Bank of Ireland chief executive Francesca McDonagh

10. Bank stories are a perennial favourite, seeing as everybody has an opinion about them and we all know somebody who works in one. this one was no exception as it told us how Bank of Ireland’s chief executive, Francesca McDonagh, was working on plans to cut 15 per cent of the group’s managers and executives, in her first major moveto tackle costs a t the bank. he move could lead to the elimination of up to 200 jobs across Ireland and the UK, from middle-manager grades right up to just under the bank’s top executive committee, according to sources.