Brexit could see many popular products disappearing from the shelves of Irish stores as providing them becomes less economically viable for suppliers.
That was the message from Musgraves Retail Partners managing director Martin Kelleher as he addressed students at UCC Commerce Society’s annual conference.
Mr Kelleher who heads the SuperValu and Centrachains, described Brexit as a disruption and distraction, but one that had to be managed.
“Much of the products we buy come from the UK. It may become uneconomic to provide for a small market — we are about the size of Manchester,” he said, adding that food labelling changes and tariffs could mean products such as special-recipe items will no longer be available.
It may become that some of the brands that we enjoy at the moment will no longer be served in Ireland.
Dave Murphy, CEO of the PM Group, which manages projects all over the world, also spoke about the impact of Brexit when he addressed the conference.
He said the current uncertainty meant some of their multinational clients have stopped or slowed their capital spending in the UK because they do not know what the future holds for them.
“If you don’t know what the future holds, you are not going to be putting your hand in your pocket and spending a load of money on something that might or might not be needed,” he said.
Mr Murphy said they were hopeful that by the end of 2020 there will be a trade deal and they could begin to address the pent-up demand in the UK for capital projects.
He said the global coronavirus crisis had also impacted on their operations.
“We have a significant business in China, based in Shanghai,” he said.
“We have 150 people there. We have a lot of projects for our multinational clients, and right now that business is stopped.
It’s effectively shut down. All our employees are at home. All the construction sites are shut. And we don’t know when that will start up again.
He used the issue as an example of how businesses need to be flexible and respond quickly to issues as they evolve.
The event was the 38th Annual Commerce Conference in the Cork County Hall in partnership KPMG, Enterprise Ireland, Port of Cork, Carey Tools, Cork Airport, and the.
Other speakers at the event were Brody Sweeney of Camile Thai Kitchen, Dave Murphy of PM Group, Peter O’Shaughnessy from Port of Cork, Aedin Curtin of Google, Noelle Martin from KPMG Ireland, Niall Horgan of Gym+Coffee, and Kevin Cullinan from Cork Airport.