By Harry Keaney
Major obstacles to the growth of e-commerce in Ireland are lack of finance and venture capital and inadequate banking services, according to speakers at the recent two-day Internet World Ireland event in Dublin.
Gerry McGovern, managing director of the internet consultancy company Nua, said the biggest inhibitor to e-commerce growth is lack of access to genuine venture capital.
Declan Ganley, chairman of the jewelry store Adornis.com, which has raised $60 million in financing and is soon to go online, said he would have used Irish banks to handle his company’s transaction-clearance services. But, he pointed out, Irish banks couldn’t offer adequate levels of credit card clearance for electronic transactions, hence the reason he used a U.S. bank instead.
There are growing fears in Ireland that a shortage of affordable housing could hinder the country’s phenomenal economic growth. A shortage of new affordable homes in the booming property market is making it difficult for companies to attract and keep new staff. And rocketing property prices are fueling demands for wage increases.
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An Irish employers’ body, the IBEC, said the cost and availability of accommodation was perhaps the single most important restriction on development of Ireland’s labor market.
Once, Irish people emigrated to England in search of work. Now, such is the boom in Ireland that British workers are being actively head-hunted by companies in Ireland, where there is a shortage of workers in certain sectors.
Noelle McCarthy, whose company specializes in recruiting technical and non-technical workers for call centers, has had to go to England to hire hundreds of workers.
"In the last two years I have hired around 500 people from England," McCarthy told the Sunday Business Post newspaper in Dublin. "You can double or treble that figure now. The demand is infinite at the moment. More recently, I have been hiring about 150 workers per month from England. Most of the recruitment agencies are finding they have to go to England and other places to get workers. It’s difficult to put a figure on it but you’re surely talking about many thousands."
McCarthy’s company, 1-800 People, was set up two years ago and currently employs 11 people at its office at Dublin’s Fitzwilliam Place. It recruits staff for the growing number of call centers and for shared services centers.
The Irish Business Organization of New York will hold its Christmas party on Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. in Fiddlesticks, 56 Greenwich Ave., off 7th Avenue, NYC. Details, (212) 463-0516.
Networking in Philly
The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Ireland Chamber of Commerce in the United States will host a networking breakfast on Nov. 16, at the Union League in Philadelphia. The event, titled "Looking East: American Companies Marketing in Ireland and Europe," will begin at 7:45 a.m., and John Brennan, CEO of ICT Group, will address the chamber at 8:30.
The event is open to the business community.
ICT Group, which is quoted on the NASDAQ as ICTG, is a global telesolutions company serving clients with call center operations in the United States, Canada, Ireland, England, and Australia. ICT Group focuses on seven high-growth industries: insurance, financial services, healthcare, telecommunications, energy services, media & information technology, and transportation & hospitality.
To register for the breakfast, or for more information on the Ireland Chamber of Commerce in the United States, call Rory Wilson at (215) 574-3100.
Wal Mart, the world’s largest low cost retailer, is targeting the Irish market, according to news reports in Ireland. Retail News magazine has reported that the U.S. giant has been in talks with Dunnes Stores in the last three weeks. Competition in the booming Irish retail market has been heating up. A German chain, Aldi, hopes to open 100 outlets in Ireland during the next 10 years. Roches Stores has announced a major expansion. Tesco has invested heavily in the Irish market since it took over Quinnsworth and Crazy Prices more than two years ago.
Californian firm Siebel Systems is to create 150 jobs in Galway during the next four years. Siebel, a leading provider of web-based front office systems for sales, marketing and customer service, will establish its European Services Center in the Dangan Business Park in Galway.
Merrion Hotel wins
The Merrion Hotel in Dublin has won the prestigious Johansens Award for Excellence in a city hotel in Britain and Ireland. The award was presented during a ceremony in the Dorchester Hotel, in London. Opened in September 1997, the 145-room Merrion was built from a historic row of Georgian townhouses.