Many c-stores may face closure due to huge energy cost increases: David Tarrant
Many viable convenience stores could soon face closure due to the cost of living crisis and rapidly rising energy costs.
That was the stark warning from David Tarrant, managing director of the Casey Group, which includes Casey’s Londis in Galway.
The store is one of many that has experienced a fourfold rise in its energy bills during the year.
“In our supply chain, everything from ice cream to packaging to meat to chicken has gone up and we’ve had to try and manage that best way we can, because we need margin to pay our bills,” David said.
“Now our energy bill has gone up fourfold in the year, which is not sustainable, but I am in the same position as most retailers.
“We have entered the BWG Infinity scheme from September which will give us security of price, but it still will probably end up at double where it used to be and that’s not within the business.
“I feel that a subsidy scheme similar to Covid to help with energy is what’s required because our energy bill across the company has gone up fourfold across the five shops. No business could take that long term.
“If they do not bring in a subsidy scheme or credit scheme to businesses, an awful lot of businesses will not survive through no fault of their own, and that’s not being dramatic or scaremongering – it’s the reality. So, we’re in a wait and see mode, especially when we’re energy dependent with huge ovens, fridges, freezers and we’re into production and lighting and heating.”
A recent survey of 1,200 indepeendent food shops across Ireland by RGDATA revealed that energy cost increases are crippling the sector.
Essential food retailers are reporting “the most stressful period ever in business” with energy price hikes of up to 400% since January 2022.
RGDATA Director General, Tara Buckley said: “The RGDATA survey indicates that retailers are experiencing an energy nightmare on every street and town in Ireland. The rates of increased electricity prices being imposed on food retailers are shocking and cannot be sustained. These shops, which are significant local employers and are a core part of the local community infrastructure throughout Ireland, cannot sustain electricity price increases of up to 400% in some instances.
“Electricity is an essential power source for food retailers – fridges, storage, light and heat are all core components for a shop and there is very limited potential for retailers to reduce their existing power consumption. While energy efficiency and demand management measures can make a difference, these are longer term solutions and often require complex retrofitting.”
She welcomed the temporary support scheme outlined in teh Budget this week to assist businesses with paying their energy costs, but warned that until retailers see the detail of how it will operate, it will be difficult to tell whether it is going to work.
“We will be resurveying our members in the next few weeks to see what they think of it and how it’s gone down and will it be sufficient,” she said.
“The government have said there’s still money in the tank if they have to make another intervention in February and it may be if we have a bad winter, if the prices continue to increase and consumer confidence continues to diminish, that we’ll end up having to have another intervention in February.
“But for the moment we do welcome the initiative – we did a lot of work to ensure that the government included food retailers because we are big energy users, so we do welcome the fact that they have come up with this scheme that will be of assistance to our members.”
To read the full store profile of Casey’s Londis Galway and an interview with Tara Buckley, watch out for the next issue of IFCR.