Multi-store gift card up against One4All
Retail Excellence Ireland hopes plan to double cap to €500 on tax-exempt vouchers ready for Christmas
At the launch of the new gift card are (from left) John Wall, FromMe2You managing director; Oonagh Hagan, Meaghers Pharmacy Group managing director and chair of Retail Excellence Ireland; David Fitzsimons, chief executive of REI, and Gillian McGowran of Topaz. Photograph: Jason Clarke Photography
Retail Excellence Ireland has launched a new multi-store gift card in time for the Christmas market, with just under €2 million in backing from a number of its members.
Called FromMe2You, the card aims to provide competition to the One4All gift card, which is operated by the An Post subsidiary The Gift Voucher Shop and is accepted in more than 7,000 outlets.
The new card was the brainchild of REI and its chief executive David Fitzsimons, who each hold a 17.5 per cent shareholding in the business. They have raised €1 million from 18 REI council members, who are also providing €850,000 in marketing support for its launch. The investors own 30 per cent between them with the balance of shares held by Payment Plus, an Irish payment services group.
The gift card market is valued at about €600 million annually with Mr Fitzsimons predicting it could rise to €1 billion over the next three years. REI is targeting sales of €3 million-€5 million initially, with brand extensions possible from 2016 onwards.
Mr Fitzsimons told The Irish Times that the card would charge lower commissions than its rival, ranging from 3.4 per cent to 6.95 per cent. This is designed to make it more affordable to smaller retailers.
It will be accepted by a large number of retailers, including Brown Thomas , Harvey Norman, Shaws department stores, Carphone Warehouse, Fields Jewellers, EZ Living, Currys PC World, Halpenny Golf, Allcare Pharmacy, Avoca, Home Store and More, Butlers Chocolates and Tiger. The card is currently available through Topaz service stations and can be bought online at Me2you.ie.
Mr Fitzsimons declined to identify those who had invested in the business but said that neither Topaz nor its owner Denis O’Brien was among them. Plans were being drawn up to broaden the distribution network over time, he added.
Mr Fitzsimons is hoping that the Government’s plan to double to €500 the cap on the tax-exempt voucher rewards that employers can give staff – which featured in the Finance Bill – will come into effect for this Christmas, rather than the anticipated start date of January 1st.
“That decision is going to have a really positive impact on the business and we hope it would be introduced this side of Christmas,” he said. “We’re hoping that the Minister will announce that it will come into effect when the Finance Bill itself comes into effect.” The Finance Bill gives legislative effect to measures in the budget and it is currently well advanced in terms of implementation.
REI represents more than 1,350 retailers across Ireland, operating 13,000 stores.