The owner of a popular café in Cork City has said he is struggling to pay wages due to increases in energy prices and raw materials.
Izzeddeen Akarajeh, who owns Izz Café on George’s Quay, has not made any profits so far this year and is finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the price increases.
“We barely pay our own wages and our staff wages because of our situation, so the expected increase in energy prices next month will add to this problem,” he said.
Mr Akarajeh said his business is “really struggling” with energy prices set to soar further.
“Energy prices are going up 100% next month, they have already gone up 50%. We’re still unable to make profits and with this increase in energy prices I think we are going to have a big problem if no government support is given,” he said.
The increase in the cost of gas in particular has hit Izz Café hard.
Last year, a gas bill for two months would have cost €1,200 on average.
The first bill received this year increased by over 130%, amounting to €2,800.
Mr Akarajeh said even some of his own customers urged him to put up prices to reflect the new reality because they want his business to continue in operation.
“I even got some comments from customers at the beginning because I was late in increasing the prices and they were observing that other restaurants were going up.”
He hopes that Tuesday's budget will pay attention to businesses that are struggling.
“We see many businesses struggling and closing their doors. We don’t want to end our business this way just because of the prices.”
He said that his business had been a great success and that it would be devastating for it to close because of an energy crisis.
JJ McCarthy from Small Business Advice organisation says many businesses are moving into survival mode.
“In general terms, companies are getting on with it, we’re certainly moving into an area of survival strategies,” he said.
He said that companies are facing “a significantly uncertain external environment.”
Mr McCarthy has seen an increase in those seeking advice in managing their business during a period of increased costs.
“Particularly younger entrepreneurs who may not have gone through a crisis before, people who would have started businesses perhaps in the last ten years and they wouldn’t have experienced the financial crisis,” he said.
He said support for small businesses in the upcoming budget is paramount as the current struggles are beyond the capacity of smaller businesses to manage.
“The more certainty that is provided, the safer things will be,” he said.