October sees the end of our Irish Summer sees the beginning of our run up to Christmas. For all of us there is disappointment that the Government didn’t do more for our Sector in last week’s Budget. It’s nothing we didn’t know already. Minister Donohoe has made it clear that he hasn’t been happy with the lack of competitiveness in certain sectors of our industry. Confirming that the VAT rate will go back up to 13.5% in March 2023 was something most of us expected. However all is not lost. Between now and then Adrian and the team will continue our quest to extend the 9% VAT rate past March. I’m confident that should the economic landscape remain the same as it is the Government will have no option but to extend it. What faces our sector between now and then is unparalleled. We will see the introduction of the new minimum wage, the Pension auto enrolment and introduction of the statutory sick pay. With the costs of fuel rising and other costs of doing business, how will we find the money for a VAT hike of 4.5%? We simply won’t be able to. As much as we welcome the new TBESS scheme it simply doesn’t go far enough. The €1.25 billion Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme (TBESS) will provide qualifying businesses with up to 40% of the increase in electricity or gas bills up to €10,000 per month. It will help small businesses most, but also medium and larger businesses.

September

Putting the Budget aside, September I feel was a generally good month for the trade. Chatting to colleagues from all over the country, having met some of them at this year’s hugely successful Irish Restaurants Awards, I felt that the overall mood was good. For now at least our loyal customers are happy to support us. Dining out is still something that us Irish love to do. However as we continue to pinch our already decimated margins, how long before they give up on us.

The Award season saw the Irish Restaurant Awards return after 2 years away, to the CCD on the 19th of September. With well over 3,000 guests attending the Regional Awards events we then had 900 sit for dinner at the All-Ireland Awards event, which was an incredible celebration of positivity for our industry. It was great to see so many people, and so many different types of restaurant’s, gastropubs, pubs, and cafes picking up awards. The joy on people’s faces on receipt of their awards gave me such pride. The overall winner of Best Restaurant in Ireland was Chapter One. This restaurant continues to set the standard in Ireland. Massive congratulations to them. For the rest of you your wait for the 2023 Awards won’t be as long as the last edition as we will be kicking of the process again in January. The All-Ireland Final of the Awards will be held in May next year as they were in previous years.

Until next month,

Yours in hospitality Paul Lenehan