Managing Director of BWG Foods Willie O’Byrne has been elected as the new chairman of Retail Ireland

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Mr O’Byrne will serve a two-year term at the helm of the retail arm of Ibec. He replaces Conor Whelan, who recently stepped down as managing director of bookseller Eason. Maxol Group chief executive Brian Donaldson will serve as vice-chairman of the organisation.

At the announcement, Mr O’Byrne discussed the current landscape of the retail industry, including the challenges posed by the Brexit fallout and rising costs at home. “Retail is an exciting, dynamic and innovative industry and I look forward to working with the Retail Ireland team to ensure that the many issues facing the sector are fully recognised and addressed.”

“The industry is facing a number of challenges which we as an organisation must address immediately. These include the fallout from Brexit, which has already impacted upon consumer sentiment, with retail sales growth softening considerably in the months following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union” he said.

“We also must work with Government to address the rising costs Irish retailers face which – allied to the emerging threat from foreign online-only retailers – threaten to undermine the future sustainability of the sector.”

Retail Ireland has called on the Government to centralise its support for the retail sector and introduce a tax credit that would help Irish companies compete with international online retailers.

Retail Ireland works to represent the retail sector’s interests to Government, media and all other stakeholders, the body is affiliated to employers’ group Ibec.