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Re­tail lobby group gives top gongs to board mem­ber busi­nesses

Irish Daily Mirror - - NEWS - BY FERGHAL BLANEY Po­lit­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent BY NIALL O’CON­NOR and AAKANKSHA SURVE

ONE of the coun­try’s top re­tail lobby groups gave four of its an­nual awards to busi­nesses be­long­ing to board mem­bers.

And three of the top four gongs for 2019 were handed to com­pa­nies from Clare, the county where Re­tail Ex­cel­lence Ire­land’s HQ is based.

The win­ners of the Na­tional Store Of The Year and their Top5 Store Of The Year are both from En­nis.

The news will grab the at­ten­tion of many of the 1,850 re­tail firms and over 13,000 stores REI boasts as mem­bers.

A large num­ber of them forked out the €195-per-head ticket price to at­tend the glitzy awards cer­e­mony where the prizes were dished out be­fore Christ­mas.

One dis­grun­tled mem­ber, who runs a small gro­cery store west of the Shan­non, told the Ir­ish Mir­ror: “I can’t say any­thing against the win­ners, but how come the top few seem to come from En­nis? It just doesn’t look good, that’s all I’d say.”

The over­all win­ner of the top prize was a bou­tique fash­ion busi­ness from GARDAI are hunt­ing at least two ar­son­ists who started a fire in­side a pro­posed asy­lum seeker cen­tre.

Cops be­lieve the pair smashed their way into the Shan­non Key West Ho­tel in Rooskey, Co Leitrim, through a rear win­dow.

They then lit a fire in an ef­fort to En­nis called Wil­low. It has two branches, one in En­nis and one in Gal­way, and is owned by Jean Mccabe, who sits on the board of Re­tail Ex­cel­lence.

A Phar­macy from Fer­moy in Cork was next on the awards list for the na­tional store and phar­macy award.

But it was a re­turn to En­nis again as chil­dren’s bou­tique Bam­bino’s re­ceived the “Top5 Store” gong. It is lo­cated right burn down the build­ing, de­spite the pres­ence of a se­cu­rity guard in an up­stairs room.

It comes just weeks after a sim­i­lar in­ci­dent at a pro­posed asy­lum seeker cen­tre at Caiseal Mara Ho­tel in Moville, Co Done­gal.

A source said: “Gardai are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the links be­tween this and the Done­gal in­ci­dent. Wil­low bou­tique in En­nis and, below, owner Jean Mccabe

next to Wil­low. Next up in the prizes was Shan­non Duty Free which scooped the “Top5 Store Na­tional Vis­i­tor Store Of The Year” award.

Re­tail Ex­cel­lence board mem­ber Dar­ren Smyth is Head of Com­mer­cial at Shan­non

Air­port and boss There is ex­ten­sive smoke dam­age in­side the ho­tel but thank­fully the fire did not take hold. The se­cu­rity guard was safe and was able to get out of the prop­erty.”

The Shan­non Key West ho­tel was to be sold to new own­ers this week and was at the cen­tre of a High Court dis­pute over plans to turn it into a refugee camp. of the Shan­non Duty Free op­er­a­tions. An­other of Re­tail Ex­cel­lence’s board mem­bers is Michelle O’gorman, whose fam­ily is be­hind the Blar­ney Woollen Mills and Kilkenny shop brands. O’gorman’s Kilkenny won on the dou­ble this year, scoop­ing the Na­tional Restau­rant And Cof­fee House and Man­ager Of The Year gongs.

Re­tail Ex­cel­lence chair JP Kennedy said: “The awards is at the cen­tre of our com­mit­ment and sup­port to Ir­ish re­tail­ers and as such, the judg­ing process and ap­proach is taken with the high­est level of pro­fes­sion­al­ism pos­si­ble. “There is a trans­par­ent and rig­or­ous judg­ing process. There are sev­eral lay­ers to the judg­ing the process, all of which are judged with a pro­fes­sional level of ob­jec­tiv­ity and this in­cludes a num­ber of in­de­pen­dent ex­ter­nal pan­els.” He added that “board mem­bers whose stores suc­ceed in achiev­ing the Top 30 level, are ex­cluded from the fi­nal judg­ing process”.

We will still pro­vide hous­ing for per­sons seek­ing our pro­tec­tion CHAR­LIE FLANA­GAN

Jus­tice Min­is­ter Char­lie Flana­gan said he was “deeply con­cerned” at the re­ports of the fire.

He added: “The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the cause of the fire must now take place. In the in­terim, my Depart­ment will con­tinue to meet our obli­ga­tion to pro­vide ac­com­mo­da­tion for per­sons seek­ing our pro­tec­tion.”



TAR­GETED Shan­non Key West Ho­tel in Co Leitrim

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