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Do not fear British pub chains, online shopping is a greater threat

I note the recent fuss regarding the arrival of a certain number of discount beer and expensive coffee chains to our city. I am reliably informed they are most pleased at the free publicity,

While I share most thinking people’s abhorrence of homogenous chains proliferating.

I must say I would counsel that the arrival of the chains mentioned will not make one jot of difference. These changes are not to be feared for already cheap drink and grub abounds in Cork City. It’s a great place to socialise in (except for the closing times).

What is to be feared, and to be confronted, are the conditions that prevent homegrown businesses from innovating and competing.

The risk-adverse nature of our financial institutions is making it difficult for start ups.

Some of our best and brightest have had their lights dimmed by what’s now an endemic ‘wait-and-see’ attitude on all sides. But really that’s only a small part of the story.

Unfortunately events are about to overtake us: It’s not about NAMA, it’s not parking, it’s not red tape, it’s not health and safety regualation, it’s not the banks, it’s the spectre of online shopping getting bigger and bigger.

Some well-known businesses have announced closure recently and I suspect the online phenomenon is beginning to bite. If people won’t come to town then what is to become of us all if the old ways of shopping are gone forever?

Cork city needs to become an entertainment hub: we need more hotels, we need to move light manufacturing, food processing, brewing and distilling back into the city centre, we need empty buildings converted back to residential homes for people of all ages.

We also need whole streets devoted to our creative industries to: fashion design, general design and furniture making. Cork must be an early adapter to 3d printing.

Our fear is not a foreign chain. Our real danger is not moving in time to counteract what is the biggest change in how goods change hands since the invention of the wheel: online shopping.

Using the buying power of a chain of 900 pubs to open 30 branches in Ireland is indeed presenting a challenge to the rest of us. Being involved in the brewing business I know you can’t hope to sell at a similar price and make a profit.

But it is a free country. While all this is going on I might just take a trip across the water as I hear there is a huge opening for good pubs there: they say all one needs to to is replace a Michael Collins portrait with that of Churchill and drive on,

B McCabe,

Sin-e,

8, Coburg St,

Cork


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