BWG Foods MD Willie O’Byrne takes over at Retail Ireland

New chairman says organisation will address rising costs and threat from online retailers

New Retail Ireland chairman Willie O’Byrne:  “The industry is facing a number of challenges which we as an organisation must address immediately.” Photograph: Shane O’Neill/Fennells

New Retail Ireland chairman Willie O’Byrne: “The industry is facing a number of challenges which we as an organisation must address immediately.” Photograph: Shane O’Neill/Fennells

 

Willie O’Byrne, managing director of BWG Foods, has been elected as the new chairman of Retail Ireland, a body affiliated to employers’ group Ibec.

Mr O’Byrne will serve a two-year term. He replaces Conor Whelan, who recently stepped down as managing director of bookseller Eason.

Maxol Group chief executive Brian Donaldson will serve as vice-chairman of the organisation.

‘Innovative industry’

“Retail is an exciting, dynamic and innovative industry and I look forward to working with the Retail Ireland team to ensure that the many issues facing the sector are fully recognised and addressed,” Mr O’Byrne said.

“The industry is facing a number of challenges which we as an organisation must address immediately. These include the fallout from Brexit, which has already impacted upon consumer sentiment, with retail sales growth softening considerably in the months following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, ” he said.

‘Future sustainability’

“We also must work with Government to address the rising costs Irish retailers face which – allied to the emerging threat from foreign online-only retailers – threaten to undermine the future sustainability of the sector.”

Retail Ireland has called on the Government to centralise its support for the retail sector and introduce a tax credit that would help Irish companies compete with international online retailers.