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Irish retailers see green shoots for spring

Retailers in Ireland are optimistic about trading in the run-up to summer, with many citing improved consumer confidence and recent sales growth.

Businesses across the country told Drapers shoppers are moving back to “quality” products and starting to spend more in-store and online.

Louis Copeland, owner of the eponymous six-store menswear business, said sales are up 5% on last year. He added: “People are more positive and less price-resistant than they were. [Premium menswear brand] Canali is doing well for us, as people are coming back to quality. We’re hopeful sales will continue rising this year.”

Stephen Sealy, managing director of premium department store Brown Thomas, which has four stores in the country, agreed that business is improving. “It is better this year than it has been for a number of years. The recession hit hard, particularly for some of our best customers, so we’ve had to work hard [to drive profit].”

Ivan Pratt, head of sales for family-run womenswear business Avoca, said: “Things have picked up a lot. There is a feeling of optimism and people are spending. Shoppers are going for higher quality fabrics again.”

Deirdre Devaney, director of fashion, accessories and beauty at Arnotts department store in Dublin, said: “Spring was slow to start as the weather was abysmal, but over the last few weeks we’ve seen strong growth on key brands including Jaeger, Ted Baker and Hobbs. There are good signs of growth.”

However, Simon Smith, commercial director of Dublin department store Clerys, warned that some shoppers are still being cautious.

“The impact of new taxes [including water charges, which come into effect from this month, and a property tax charged on the market value of all residential properties in Ireland introduced in 2013] are still being felt, so there is an air of caution,” he explained.

Debenhams said it expects the commercial environment in Ireland to remain challenging this year. The UK-based department store chain this week revealed that its Irish business – it has 11 shops in the country – recorded a 21% rise in pre-tax losses to €8.4m (£6m) in the year to August 31, 2014, due to the weakness of the euro against sterling.

Revenues increased marginally from €162.1m (£117m) to €163.5m (£118m), but the business lost €2.2m (£1.58m) on its borrowings due to foreign exchange rates.


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