Category: Archive

Business Briefs Concern grows over failure to save for retirement

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

Although Ireland’s Celtic Tiger economy continues to boom, thousands of workers in private-sector employment are not preparing for their retirement by setting up pension plans.

Roy Keenan, managing director of Lifetime Assurance, a subsidiary of Bank of Ireland, said last week that statistics show that up to 70 percent of people in private and self-employed sectors still do not have their own pension plans.

Without their own pension plans, they will eventually be dependent on state pensions.

Keenan added that it was people in lower paid jobs who tended to be most exposed, although he admitted that selling the idea of pensions to the younger generation is a major task and, he said, the government doesn’t yet fully understand this.

A large numbers of people without pension plans is, without doubt, a cause for concern. It’s also, of course, in the interest of companies such as Lifetime, New Ireland, Irish Life, Irish Permanent, the AIB subsidiary Ark Life and others to persuade more people to put money into pensions, thus giving them more capital to reinvest.

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Black economy

Not only is the Celtic Tiger economy booming, so is the black economy. The Building and Allied Trades Union says it has more members affected by the black economy than any other union.

For example, black economy builders are making £250,000 on every averaged-sized housing project through their failure to deduct tax and insurance and by not adhering to safety regulations.

"Employers who operate black economy practices may achieve average savings on labor costs of £10,000 per week on a typical housing project," the union said.

Falling fruit

For the second time in a month, Moody’s Investors Service has lowered its ratings on apparel maker Fruit of the Loom’s $1.4 billion debt. Chicago-headquartered Fruit of the Loom, which has extensive operations in Donegal and Derry, has been troubled by problems in its production and distribution operations.

Last week, William Farley stepped down from his position as chief executive. to become one of three members in an office of the chairman.

IBO news

The Irish Business Organization of New York will host a networking breakfast on Sept. 28 at 8 a.m. in Mezze Restaurant, 44th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues, in Manhattan.

The IBO’s gala ball will take place on Oct. 22 in the Grand Hyatt Hotel, in Manhattan. The Businessperson of the Year is Yonkers-based Irish Food Distributors Sean James, 35, a native of Mayo.

Pittsburgh row

Eminent domain, or compulsory purchase as it is called in Ireland, is the process whereby government takes over private property for a project that is for the public good. In Pittsburgh recently, the topic of eminent domain proved a controversial one as a result of efforts by the H.J. Heinz Company to acquire property belonging to the Pittsburgh Wool Company, which is owned by the Kumer family.

Heinz wanted to acquire the Wool Company’s 116-year-old building on North Street, which it planned to demolish to make way for a new distribution center and warehouse for soup and baby food. Pittsburgh Wool Company refused to sell, raising fears that Heinz might move its 1,300 jobs to Steubenville, Ohio.

The controversy arose because city hall considered acquiring the wool company’s property by eminent domain to subsequently sell to Heinz. In order words, using eminent dominant to help one business over another.

The city’s urban redevelopment authority approved a "declaration of taking" of the wool company property.

Caught in the middle of the row was Mayor Tom Murphy. And Pittsburgh Steelers Dan Rooney, who has connections to both sides, was involved in trying to broker a deal. Rooney’s brother Art is married to Kathleen Kumer, sister of Pittsburgh Wool Company co-owner Jeffrey Kumer. Rooney is also friends with former H.J. Heinz Company chief executive Tony O’Reilly.

In the end, a settlement was reached between Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Pittsburgh Wool Company. The transaction allows Heinz to proceed with its $36-$40 million project to expand its North Side factory by building a 70,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center on property the URA will acquire from Pittsburgh Wool. The URA is also acquiring adjacent property from the Monteverde Produce Company under a separate agreement. Pittsburgh Wool anticipates relocating to the Monteverde building.

Travel tip

Starting Nov. 4, CIE Tours International is offering a fully escorted nine-day adventure tour to Ireland priced from $999, including air fare from John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark or Boston. The price is $1,069 from Chicago. Those who pay for the trip 90 days in advance may save $60. Details, call a travel agent, CIE Tours International at (800) CIE-TOUR, or log onto www.cietours.com.

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