President’s Report – May 2024

President’s Report – May 2024

As we leave the May bank holiday behind us, it’s great to see signs of improving weather. Some of you may have had a hectic month with the annual communion and confirmation procession, which brings a lot of traffic to our restaurants.

Trade here in Kildare, where my premises are located, remains strong. However, like many of you, we’re struggling with slim margins, making me ask myself – for how long can I continue to be a busy fool? While it might be easier to see empty restaurants on a Friday or Saturday night as a justification for closure, that’s far from the case.

These concerns were echoed by myself and fellow members of the Restaurants Associaton of Ireland’s national council during meetings with the new Minister for Enterprise Peter Burke and Tánaiste Michael Martin last month. We provided detailed insights into the on-the-ground reality of our businesses.

In these discussions, we presented the Jim Power report, illustrating the significant economic impact of restaurant closures. For every closure, €1.36 million is lost to the Exchequer and 22 staff members lose their jobs. With 212 closures in the first quarter of this year alone, it’s clear that the Government’s projected cost of the VAT reduction at €545 million will soon be surpassed in losses incurred by closures. Food-led businesses are closing at a rate three times higher than the national average, reminiscent of 2011 when the 9% VAT rate was first introduced.

At the Restaurants Association of Ireland, we’re doing everything in our power, but it’s crucial for everyone to engage with their local politicians. We’ve seen progress from our meetings in Dublin, but sustained pressure is necessary from all corners of the country. With European and local elections approaching, now is the time for your voice to be heard.

On a brighter note, we have the Irish Restaurant Awards All-Ireland Final to look forward to on May 20th. Our regional events saw record attendance this year, and the finals for the Best Cocktail Experience category at the Dublin Bar Academy were also a great success. Overall winners will be announced at our gala evening at the Clayton Burlington Hotel. This prestigious award continues to gain popularity, with the overall winner representing Ireland at the World Cocktail Championships in Madeira, Portugal at the end of October.

Tickets for the awards are now on sale, and I hope to see as many of you there as possible.

In the meantime, rest assured that Adrian, our CEO, and our headquarters team will continue to advocate for our industry as we approach the critical months leading up to the next budget which will take place in October.

Yours in hospitality, 

Paul Lenehan

President of the Restaurants Association of Ireland

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