“The last year has obviously been a difficult time for suppliers, due to Covid and the ensuing lockdowns, which closed the retail sector. Tipperary Crystal have had to adapt and change as the environment changed around us,” so says Robbie Scanlan who, far from having to report that this has damaged the company irreparably, is happy to add “We have come through the last 12 months as a stronger and more adaptable company and are looking forward to when shops start to re-open and retail gets back to normal.”
He is sanguine about the future prospects of the retail trade for homewares and jewellery in which Tipperary Crystal specialises. “The recent lockdowns have simply brought forward changes that were happening anyway, for example, the growth of online, and if the retailer has adapted to these changes then business will thrive.”
He confirms that the brand experienced sales growth in December when the second lock-down lifted. ‘There was a bounce in business for us in December with record-breaking sales, once the previous lockdown was lifted. We expect a strong bounce in retail sales once shops re-open,” he adds.
Taking an overall look at what businesses did well and what did not, Robbie observes: “The businesses that have done well are the ones that adapted and changed.
“Retailers who built their online presence flourished. Irish people want to buy from Irish websites. Brexit, he feels, is feeding this trend…. “With Brexit duty costs now an issue when buying from UK websites there is more business flowing to Irish-based websites.”
And, there is an unexpected bonus in the pent-up spending power of many Irish. “There is additional savings and disposable income available to be spent on people’s homes and gardens and there was a surge in spend in this area,” Robbie confirms.
So, what does he think the future holds? Is there cause for optimism?
“I think yes ….there is cause to be hopeful….We have seen the closure of large retailers such as Debenhams, Arcadia Group, Warehouse, Oasis, Mothercare, and many more smaller retailers. This will mean additional space available at competitive prices in the retail sector so I would expect to see a lot of Hipster start-ups moving into this space (think gym + coffee).
“This will make for a much more interesting retail landscape rather than the generic UK type ‘High Street’ that had evolved over recent years.”
Robbie Scanlan is Managing Director of Allied Imports Ltd. whose brand is TIPPERARY CRYSTAL covers giftware, homeware, lighting, accessories and jewellery.