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New Report Confirms Major Contributions Of Drinks Sector To Irish Economy

Posted on 23 September 2013

The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) has today called on the Government to reverse last year's excise increase on alcohol and set up a task force to prevent the demise of Irish pubs and independent off-licences. The calls came following the launch of a report this morning, by DCU Economist Anthony Foley, profiling changes that have taken place in the sector since the onset of the downturn in 2008. 

The report confirms the per capita consumption at 14.1% below the 2007 level, and full time employee numbers in bars declining by 25% between 2008 and 2011. The report revealed that despite significant pressure, the Industry still provides over €2 billion is VAT and excise receipts and generates over €1 billion in exports annually. The drinks sector also provides approximately 62,000 full or part time across different sectors of the economy with over €2 billion worth of inputs purchased by firms across manufacturing, retail and wholesale. 

However, the industry has faced considerable challenges since 2008 and remains a sector under pressure. According to the report, the total volume of the alcohol market declined by 9.9% between 2007 and 2012. A breakdown of these figures indicate that bar sales declined by 33% between 2007 and 2012 compared to an overall decline of 12.5% in total retail sales. 

Speaking at the launch of today's report, the Chairman of DIGI, Peter O'Brien said 'This report comprehensively demonstrates the very significant contribution the drinks industry makes to the economy. The report clearly outlines our continuing export success, the importance of the drinks industry to Ireland's tourism product and the major boost brands such as Guinness, Bailey and Jameson provide to Ireland's international image.' 

Peter O'Brien continued 'However last year, the Government increased excise on alcohol which has added substantial hardship to an industry that already under considerable pressure. 

'The facts are stark. In the manufacturing sector there has been a drop in employment levels from 6146 in 2000 to 3605 in 2011, across the 30 enterprises in drinks manufacturing. In the on and off trade retailers there has been a substantial decline in the level of retail employees in recent years. According to ASI 6000 jobs were lost between 2008 and 2011. 

'Also of major concern is the sustainability of small and rural pubs in Ireland, with the number of public houses declined by 959 between 2007 and 2012 and employment in pubs is down 17% between 2008 and 2012. The ownership structure of pubs is a family dominated one, with 94% independently or family owned. 

'In light of this report, DIGI is calling on the Government to reverse last year's excise increase in alcohol in order to allow this important sector and its employees to build a more sustainable and positive future. The future of Irish pubs and independent off licences remains a source of great concern, with figures casting doubt on the long term viability of these sectors, we urge the Government to set up a task-force to help protect these sectors.

The report's author, Anthony Foley, added 'This analysis clearly illustrates that the drinks industry is important for Ireland's economy through employment and taxation as it works towards national recovery. A key conclusion from the report is the 62,000 people who get full or part time employment from the drinks industry. 

'With these findings in mind, it's logical that the Government should seek to support this sector, in whatever way it can.'

The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland
Anglesea House, Anglesea Road,
Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

Tel. 01 668 0215  
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