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Business Briefs A donut for breakfast, ‘supersize it’ for lunch

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

Ireland’s sure becoming more like America, so much so that one will soon be able to get a Dunkin Donuts bagel with cream cheese for breakfast and a "supersized" McDonald’s combo for lunch.

Dunkin Donuts is planning a massive expansion in the Republic with 30 new outlets employing up to 500 people during the next 18 months. The franchise will be operated by brothers Gary and Neil White, who currently run the franchise in Northern Ireland. Gary White acquired the master license for the Republic from Allied Domecq Retailing International. The brothers already operate 16 outlets in Northern Ireland employing 150 people. They first secured the franchise in 1997.

A month ago, McDonald’s announced that it will open another 37 restaurants in Ireland during the next three years.

Boston investment conference

The third annual conference on technology investment and partnering opportunities in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Isr’l will take place May 18 in the John F. Kennedy Library, in Boston. Applications for companies wishing to participate in the showcase are available at www.umassp.edu/conference, or fax (617) 287-7163. Details, call Matthew Morrissey at (617) 287-7024. The fee for presenting companies is $500. Registration fee for attendees is $395.

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Spending power

Last week, 15 £1 million homes in Dublin sold in four hours, the purchasers having no difficulty coming up with the £50,000 deposit. Real estate agents said there was nothing strange about the sales. In fact, the agents told the Sunday Tribune newspaper that there are now hundreds of private homes in Dublin worth more than £1 million.

The boom-time Irish spending spree also includes luxury car sales. In 1997, according to the Tribune, 1,869 people in Ireland became owners of a Mercedes Benz. In 1998, this figure jumped to 3,081 and in the first three months of this year, 1,552 more people had become owners of Mercs. Other hot selling models include Alfa Romeos and Jaguars. In 10 years, sales of BMWs have increased from 500 in 1997 to 1,200 last year.

And if one suspects the Celtic Tiger is driving people crazy, consider this: The Tribune reported that some parents have already booked babysitters for £1,000 to look after their children on this New Year’s Eve, the start of the new millennium. However, since the newspaper first reported that story, an agency named the Nanny Group, in Dublin, has taken more than 20 babysitting bookings paying sitters £2,000 for the night.

Growth pains

Iona Technologies, one of the flagships of Ireland’s booming software industry, made a first-quarter loss of $400,000. However the company added that turnover had risen by 20 percent, compared to the 1998 quarter to $21.2 million.

Iona’s chief executive, Dr. Chris Horn, said that when Iona floated last year, all of its sales deals were volume contracts, typically under $500,000 in value. Now, 50 percent were "enterprise" business contracts worth more than $500,000 that often required sales representatives to pitch deals with senior management in person to get them through.

"Part of the problem was perhaps, frankly, immaturity in terms of the sales reps, who used to be in the volume business and have now graduated to the enterprise business and are now grappling with that change and finding the transition more difficult than we expected," Horn said.

Another problem was that recently hired staff had experience elsewhere in software sales but were not completely Knowledgeable of Iona’s products.

"Frankly, we failed in some cases to have the right induction and training in place rapidly enough to bring our new hires fully up to speed and make them as productive as possible," Horn added.

"The issues here are internal. It is not as if it is competition, it is not as if it is market demand, it is nothing like that. The mistakes we made were internal execution issues which are in our control to fix," Horn said in an interview with The Irish Times.

Jobs watch

Hewlett-Packard will create 200 jobs during the next three years at its plant in Leixlip, Co. Kildare. The company recently reversed plans to create a further 1,500 jobs at the Leixlip inkjet manufacturing operation during the next two years. Employees taken on the new recruitment drive will join the company’s new technology campus instead of working solely to support the manufacturing operation where 1,350 people work. All the new jobs will go to software and computer science graduates with industry experience.

Internet security

The Chambers of Commerce of Ireland has licensed e-commerce security specialist Baltimore Technologies to set up a secure infrastructure for e-commerce. The service will be known as ChamberCERT and will issue digital certificates to member organizations which authenticate on-line business, including internet banking. on-line shopping and e-mail.

Based on Baltimore’s UniCERT system, the digital certificates will act as identification guaranteeing the identity of participants in on-line exchanges. Working in tandem with Baltimore’s MailSecure system, Chambers of Commerce of Ireland organizations will be able to exchange confidential messages with the assurance the data cannot be read or altered by an unauthorized person.

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