Penneys to open store in Tallaght after 21-year wait

Seen & Heard: CIF warns Government over Irish Water funding; OTC mood enhancer sales increase

Penneys is to open a store in The Square in Tallaght in the coming months some 21 years after the fast-fashion retailer was linked with the Dublin shopping centre, reports the Sunday Times.

Sources told the newspaper that Primark, the trading name for the company outside the Republic, was finalising the terms, but will open in the coming months in the former Debenhams store.

Penneys originally agreed to open a store in Tallaght in 2000 at The Square's proposed extension, which was held up by litigation taken by Dunnes Stores and then the recession. The Square's owners since 2018, Oaktree Capital Management, received planning permission for the expansion last July.

CIF’s Irish Water warning

The construction industry had told the Government it must increase its capital allocation to Irish Water by €2 billion a year to accelerate essential water infrastructure projects that in turn allow more homes to be built, reports the Sunday Independent.

The Construction Industry Federation’s (CIF) pre-budget submission, seen by the newspaper, claims a funding increase of this order is required if the Government is to get to grips with housing, climate and infrastructure crises.

The CIF expects that only 18,000 new homes will be built in 2021, about half the Government target.

Broadband subsidies

National Broadband Ireland (NBI), the company responsible for rolling out the National Broadband Plan, has been awarded €42.5 million through five separate State subsidy payments up to May 2021, reports the Business Post.

This is despite connecting far fewer homes and businesses than expected. It brings the total cost of the scheme since 2013 to €84 million, with the majority of the balance going to external advisers contracted by the Department of Communications during the procurement process and since the rollout of the plan began in early 2020.

The figures were obtained by the newspaper through documents released under the Freedom of Information Act

Winter energy crunch

The State’s electricity grid is facing an increased prospect of energy shortages and possible blackouts this winter as emergency plans to import power generators have been abandoned, reports the Business Post.

EirGrid has confirmed it has scrapped plans to commission the ESB to rent and import 200 megawatts (MW) of emergency gas generators this winter that would have cost €130 million to operate.

The Business Post said it understood the plans, signed off by Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan in June, had been dropped after UK energy firm Tynagh Energy lodged a High Court challenge alleging the procurement process was anti-competitive.

Pharmacy sale trends

Sales of over-the-counter sleeping tablets and mood enhancers surged 108 per cent in Irish pharmacies in the second quarter of the year, reports the Sunday Independent, citing the quarterly Pharmacy Pulse Survey by sector experts Fitzgerald Power.

The biggest decline compared to the same period in 2020 was in cough, cold and other respiratory medications, the report said.

Total sales in pharmacies were up more than 13 per cent, but over-the-counter sales contracted by 3 per cent in value and 10 per cent in volume in the year to June 2021 compared with the year to June 2020.

Irish Life limit lift

Irish Life is unlocking its primary Irish commercial property fund, removing emergency restrictions imposed more than a year ago that forced investors to wait six months to withdraw their money, according to the Sunday Times.

The insurance company said it was removing the limits because of an improving commercial property outlook, especially for offices and industrial premises.

The move is effective for retail investors exiting the fund from Tuesday, although institutional investors have been free to leave without a wait period since April.