Retail lobby group gives top gongs to board member businesses
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.”
JUSTICE MINISTER YESTERDAY
TARGETED Shannon Key West Hotel in Co Leitrim