By Harry Keaney
Irish people are spending like never before. And, it seems, many of the new cash-rich are also image conscious, particularly when it comes to cars.
According to the latest figures from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office, the value of retail sales was up 17.1 percent in January over the previous year while the volume was up some 16.5 percent.
New cars made up a large portion of this increase, rising almost 50 percent from a year earlier, thus proving the popularity of cars bearing the new 00 millennium registration plates.
"This is a stronger number than expected and it’s down chiefly to the car registrations," Fiona Adkins, an economist at Hibernian Investment Managers, told the Irish Examiner newspaper. "If you strip out the motor trade factor, the value of retail sales actually fell 1.6 percent on the month."
According to the Society of the Irish Motor Industry, new car sales for the first three months of this year are running at more than 100,000, compared to 75,000 in the same period last year.
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Also selling well were electrical goods.
Pfizer inspiring future scientists
Most parents with elementary school children have probably heard and seen the TV programs and books called "The Magic School Bus." Now comes a real life version of the bus thanks to the Irish Center for Talented Youth at Dublin City University. It’s called the Pfizer Science Bus and it began its trek through Ireland last week.
The purpose of the Pfizer Science Bus is to show school children that science can be even more exciting than popular science-fiction television shows. Developed at a cost of £500,000, the full-size bus, sporting the motto "A Journey of Discovery," has been fitted out as a working science laboratory designed to excite and capture the imagination of 9- to 12-year-old students as it travels to primary schools all over Ireland.
The science bus is sponsored by Pfizer Inc., the global pharmaceutical company. Pfizer has a manufacturing facility in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork, for more than 25 years where more than 450 people are employed. The science bus project was developed by the Center for Talented Youth at Dublin City University. The center has helped almost 7,000 students with exceptional academic ability to learn about subjects as diverse as biotechnology, arch’ology and electronics.
The bus is taking to the road at a time when educators and policy makers in Ireland are urging more science programs for students, a necessity if the Irish economy is to continue to boom. Pfizer hopes the science bus will inspire the next generation of scientists.
A shot for Jameson
Worldwide sales growth of Jameson, the Irish whiskey brand of Groupe Pernod Ricard, was a modest 1 percent last year.
The ending of duty-free purchasing from July for travelers living in the European Union cost the brand an extra 120,000 case sales, although total volumes at 1.21 million cases were a record.
Excluding the duty-free business, sales were 10 percent ahead of the previous year growing by 10 percent in the United States and by 7 percent in the rest of the world.
Richard Burrows, chairman and chief executive of Irish Distillers, the subsidiary that distills Pernod Ricard’s Irish brands, told a news briefing at the Old Jameson Distillery in Dublin that Jameson was now the world’s "fastest-growing" whiskey brand.
Martin Riley, head of international sales and marketing, told the group’s annual results presentation that the target was to build sales to 2 million cases by the year 2007.
Johnnie Walker Red is the world’s top-selling whiskey brand at circa 7 million cases.
Smurfit and Murdoch
News International and Smurfit have jointly purchased a 10-acre site from Kells Urban District Council, in County Meath, for £600,000. They intend to build a £40 million modern printing plant on the site.
The two companies are considering an 80,000-square-foot facility at a cost of £40 million.
Jobs for Clare
A Clare manufacturer of electronic information boards is to create 99 more jobs as a result of expansion in Ennistymon. Data Display recently doubled its factory size to 60,000 square feet. It will increase its workforce by 40 to 191 this year and by another 59-250 next year. Data Display makes electronic display systems for railway stations, airports and car parks.