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Irish wine sellers say jobs at risk

Friday, August 15 14:29:38

The last two Budgets saw a total of 62pc in increases on the price of a bottle of wine in Ireland creating a situation where jobs are now at risk, according to the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland.

It said that a tax hike of 62pc or E1.50 on the average bottle of wine in the last two budgets has meant that wine has been the hardest hit alcohol category in the last few years.

Michael Foley, Chairman of the Irish Wine Association said that over 1,100 people are employed directly by Irish wine distributors and importers, and thousands more jobs are supported in the 13,000 pubs, restaurants, and independent off-licences that sell wine.

He said that their livelihoods are now at risk due to the actions of the Government.

"Such unfair treatment of wine is crippling small businesses across the country. According to AC Neilson data to end Dec 2013, volumes in the industry are down 8.6pc. Excise is a tax on jobs. Increases have added almost E18,000 to the cost of importing 1,000 cases of wine, at a time when the availability of credit is at an all-time low. This has put jobs at risk and has made it impossible to scale up and take on new talent," said Mr Foley.

"Excise stunts SME growth. The Government has said again and again that it wants to encourage entrepreneurs to set up shop in this country, yet excise increases have created significant cash-flow issues for distributors and importers as many have to pay excise as an up-front cost. This also makes it impossible for new wine importers and suppliers to enter the market."

"Excise makes our tourism offer less competitive. Spanish tourists pay almost twice the price for wine in Irish restaurants that they do at home. Failte Ireland research has shown that the price of alcohol is one of the main reasons why tourists wouldn't return to this country."

"Independent off-licences struggle to stay afloat in the competitive market, as it's nearly impossible to compete with supermarkets selling wine as a loss leader. It's shocking how much of the price of your drink goes to the Government. Take a E7 bottle of wine - 64pc or E4.50 goes straight to the Government. Wine that is priced greater than E9 has increased from 20pc to 46pc between 2012 and 2013," added Mr Foley.

For more visit: www.businessworld.ie