President’s Blog – November 25, 2019 – “Red to Black”

Hello Members – How quickly the weeks roll around.  It hardly seemed like a month since our last round of Industrial Group and Chamber Board meetings.  But a month it was and last Monday saw the Industrial Group Meeting being held by Chair David Kiely. Topics discussed included the need for increased housing stock; update on infrastructure projects; and an update on the Sligo Town Centre Health Check IPSOS Survey Report launched at IT Sligo on November 7th.  This Report is part of a wider initiative to inform and guide plans for the revitalisation of Sligo Town Centre.  Then it was Tuesday and an early morning start for the monthly Chamber Board meeting.

Immediately following the Chamber Board meeting, it was onto the airwaves for CEO Aidan Doyle on Ocean FM where he participated in a panel discussion on the Niall Delaney show on the build up in Sligo to the Christmas shopping season and to “Black Friday” which this year falls on next Friday, November 29th.

 “Black Friday” is a recent phenomenon in Ireland relating to a day of sales in retail outlets and in online shopping.  But where did the term come from? “Black Friday” has its origins in the United States where it is the informal name for the Friday following Thanksgiving.  Designated a holiday by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 to give thanks for a Union Army victory at Gettysburg, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.  It is traditionally regarded as marking the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in America.  What may be of particular interest to retailers in Sligo is the popular explanation in the United States that “Black Friday” represented the time in the year when retailers had covered all their costs for the year and began to see a profit, turning from being “in the red” to being “in the black”.

And as the Christmas shopping season approaches, the Team at Sligo Chamber would like to take this opportunity to mention our Gift Card.  Now in its third year, the Sligo Chamber Gift Card is a product available to our member firms and other businesses to reward staff and improve employee motivation.   This Gift Card Scheme is tax free and is in line with the Government’s Small Benefits Tax Exemption Policy where businesses can reward staff up to €500 free from income tax, universal social charge and employee and employer’s PRSI.  Growing in popularity year on year, the Sligo Chamber Gift Card is now accepted in over 80 retailers across Sligo.  In availing of this scheme, businesses are not only rewarding staff, they are also contributing to the local Sligo retail economy.

The Team at Sligo Chamber is continually seeking to increase membership.  It was encouraging to hear in our Finance Report at the Chamber Board meeting on Tuesday morning that membership is up 10% on last year.  One new member this year is Irish Rail and we are pleased to have them on board.  Together with Irish Rail, Sligo Chamber recently hosted a “Business to Business” event at the Sligo Train Station.  Irish Rail were represented by National Sales Manager, Cormac Downes; Business Development Executive, Kathy O’Donnell and Commercial Director, Gerry Culligan who addressed those gathered in attendance.  Improved connectivity by train to Dublin is a high priority for Sligo Chamber member firms.  This, together with parking availability, was raised by Chamber CEO Aidan with Irish Rail in advance of the meeting.  It was reassuring to hear Commercial Director, Gerry Culligan address those concerns.  Irish Rail are moving to increase the frequency of the services to and from Dublin to hourly in peak times.  They are also looking at the feasibility of having less stops on certain trains.  A report is being commissioned to evaluate the availability of land suitable for increasing parking at Sligo.  By 2020, Irish Rail will have 600 new carriages available nationwide and the Sligo-Dublin route will be a beneficiary of this new rolling stock.  All in all, positive news of this evening event with one of the Chamber’s newer member firms.

Keeping with the tone of positivity surrounding Sligo, there was a wonderful piece on the Sean O’Rourke Show on RTE Radio One on Thursday.   Fionn Davenport discussed with Sean his experiences on a recent visit to Sligo speaking about the stunning scenery, the range of outdoor activities, and many excellent hostelries in which to eat and imbibe.  Again, this is in alignment with the positive messaging Sligo Chamber seeks to promote for tourism across our Sligo.   Great to hear it outlined so positively on national radio.

Until next time.

Life is for Living – #Life is Sligo.

Conor McCarthy

President Sligo Chamber