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Businesses urged to avail of Purple Flag opportunities

ENNIS’ retail and hospitality businesses are being urged to capitalise on the town’s Purple Flag status by offering later shopping hours and earlier entertainment.
Plans are underway for a meeting of local businesses, organised by Promote Ennis, to highlight the opportunities that are available with expert speakers from Killarney, Dundalk and Ennis set to attend.
Throughout the process of research and application for the international evening excellence award, the Purple Flag Working Group found one topic to be recurring and presenting a real opportunity for the town of Ennis – the early evening shopping and entertainment.
Upon receipt of the award earlier this year, it was decided at consecutive meetings a customer survey would be carried out to confirm visitors’ interest in evening shopping and entertainment and a business briefing was suggested to inform the retail and hospitality sectors in Ennis of the findings, the opportunities and the long-term planning for Ennis town.
The initial results of the survey, which as distributed to visitors at three participating accommodation providers including the Old Ground Hotel, the Temple Gate Hotel and the Rowan Tree Hostel, show that there is significant interest in both later shopping and earlier entertainment.
“Following Ennis’ huge success being awarded the international evening excellence accreditation Purple Flag, it is now time to review where Ennis can do even better and to get the whole town involved and on board with this new award. In particular, during our own evaluations and also in the feedback from the Association of Town Centre Management (ATCM), we have identified that Ennis is missing out on an opportunity in the early evening both in terms of shopping and entertainment,” said chairman of Promote Ennis, Brian O Neill.
“As a result we would like to invite the retail and hospitality sectors to join us on Thursday, May 30 from 6.15pm at the Temple Gate Hotel to discuss these opportunities and hear from experts in this field regarding their experiences.”
Johnny McGuire, president of Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce will be among those attending.
“Killarney Chamber is delighted to share our experience in early evening shopping with Ennis’ retail and hospitality sector. We are also interested in getting an introduction to the international Purple Flag award during our visit,” he said.
In addition, a local business already operating successfully in the evening has been asked to give an overview of their experiences and challenges. David Woodford from The Irish Shop will be using his shop as a real example of the opportunities in the early evening hours for businesses in tourism and related sectors. Also, an open discussion on the topic of Retail Opportunities in the Early Evening will be led by Rita McInerney, CEO of Ennis Chamber. 
The meeting will then go beyond the evening economy and focus on the future of the town itself, looking at a possible way to strengthen the business community from the inside with the use of a business improvement district (BID).
In this field the manager of Dundalk BID, Andrew Mawhinney, has been invited to speak to the retail and hospitality sector in Ennis.
“Based on my experience managing the successful Dundalk BID, which in 2012 has been reconfirmed with a strong vote by the business community in favor of retaining it, I am delighted to give an overview of the advantages and sustainability model that a Business Improvement District (BID) can offer to a town and its businesses.” said Mr Mawhinney.
In conjunction with Mr Mawhinney’s talk, Councillor Johnny Flynn will be widening the discussion for Ennis businesses to consider a Business Improvement District structure to make the town more attractive to shoppers and visitors. According to Councillor Flynn, Irish law dictates that a BID can only be requested by the ratepayers themselves with the use of a plebicite or vote if requested.
The meeting will finish with details on how businesses can get involved with Purple Flag, the promotional materials available and an overview of further plans for the award in 2013 given by Ennis’ Purple Flag Coordinator Carmen Cronin.
This free-of-charge business meeting for the town of Ennis organised by Promote Ennis will be held on Thursday 30 May, 6.15pm – 7.30pm, Temple Gate Hotel. Any business in the retail and hospitality sector operating in Ennis is welcome to join with their relevant employees. Registration by May 23 with Ennis Chamber 065 684 2988 or events@ennischamber.ie.


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