Meeting sought with Sam McCauleys
Last week's Wexford People front page revealing McCauleys' proposed relocation of their HQ to Dublin because of recruitment difficulties in Wexford shocked the business community and local politicians. There is widespread concern at the potential loss of local jobs and that the reason given for the move could discourage other companies looking to the model county. Brendan Keane reports
The President of Wexford Chamber of Commerce, Niall Reck, and the Labour Party Leader, Deputy Brendan Howlin TD, have written to the Board of Sam McCauley Chemist Ltd asking for meetings to discuss the proposed relocating of the company's head office to a new site outside of Co Wexford - believed to be in Dublin.
Mr Reck wrote his letter in respect of his own position and also on behalf of the Chief Executive of Wexford County Council, Tom Enright.
In his correspondence he highlighted that the Sam McCauley brand has been synonymous with Wexford for 65 years and he also pointed out that the loyalty of the company's staff has been instrumental to the ongoing growth of the company.
'As a result we feel very strongly that the head office of Sam McCauley Chemists Ltd should remain in Wexford,' said Mr Reck in the letter.
He also said the chamber and the local authority are committed to doing everything they can to assist the company in overcoming obstacles that 'triggered the decision' to relocate.
Mr Reck asked for a meeting with the Board of Directors of the business so an outline could be given as to how the chamber and the County Council could assist the business to ensure it remains in Wexford.
Speaking to this newspaper Mr Reck expressed disappointment and concern at the possibility that jobs could be lost in the county.
'We want to meet the Board and hear what their reasons are for relocating,' he said.
'We want an opportunity to present them with ideas we have and work with them in ensuring the company's headquarters remains where it always has been and that's in Co Wexford,' he added.
He expressed criticism of any notion that there aren't skilled people in the county and said that's something the chamber and the local authority are willing to work with the company on.
That comment was in reference to the reasons given for the move by the CEO of Sam McCauley Chemists Ltd in Wexford, Tony McEntee, who told this newspaper the plan to relocate was attributable to a lack of potential employees in Wexford: 'We need to find a team of online marketers and we are struggling to recruit people locally. As a business we need to grow and we need talent to grow.'
Mr Reck disagreed with any suggestion there are not skilled people in Co Wexford.
'The skill set is there,' he said.
'There are many skilled people in the town and we know that recruitment companies [here] weren't approached,' he added.
If the request for a meeting is accepted Mr Reck said a number of key things will be presented by the chamber and local authority.
'It doesn't make financial sense to move to Dublin and it certainly would make far more sense to remain here,' he said.
'Another key issue is that we should be able to find the people they require here in Wexford,' he added.
Commenting there is a very strong, varied and skilled workforce in the Model County Mr Reck suggested the company might think it searched locally but added: 'That certainly appears not to actually be the case and that's something we could highlight to them.'
'It's a Wexford brand and we do not want to lose it and we certainly don't want to lose jobs in the county,' he said.
He suggested one option that could be considered is for the company to relocate its headquarters from where it is but still remain inside the county boundary.
'Even if it relocated its base to Gorey and possibly to the Hatch Lab it would mean it's only a spin down the road from Dublin and at least the employees already working there would be remaining in Wexford,' he said.
'That's an option that we feel should definitely be looked at.'
Labour Party Leader, Brendan Howlin TD, has also written to the company about the matter and requested a meeting with senior management.
He told this newspaper that he was very disappointed and shocked to read in last week's Wexford People newspaper that the company is likely to relocate in the New Year.
However, he also said he was concerned at the message and image being portrayed that Co Wexford doesn't have skilled workers within the sales and marketing area.
'That is a big concern of mine and is certainly at odds with the message we want to give out about Wexford when we are trying to encourage businesses to set up here,' he said.
He commented that when the Sam McCauley merger took place last year commitments were made that the business would grow further from its Wexford hub.
'This decision is unexpected and deeply disturbing,' said Deputy Howlin.
'I want to find out exactly what efforts were made to get their workforce locally,' he added.
He said many other businesses have been very successful in recruiting expert people locally in Wexford and he agreed that the Wexford Campus of Carlow IT runs courses specific to sales and marketing.
'The whole idea of a Technological University of the South East is that it would link in with the skill sets needed in the region so I believe there would be no difficulty in getting the required people,' he said.
Deputy Howlin rejected any notion that the county doesn't have skilled people: 'The idea that there isn't a skilled workforce here is not acceptable to me.'
He also has grave concerns about the possible repercussions on the county as a result of the reason put forward by the Board of Sam McCauley's as to why relocation is necessary.
'I know from years of talking to businesses that the most important thing most companies rely on when considering locating to a particular county or area is the evidence presented by companies that are already there,' he said.
'They consider the evidence and testimony from companies already in the area [they're looking at],' he added.
'That is why we have the Wexford Ambassador programme to reach out to companies and highlight why they should locate here.'
Deputy Howlin also commented on the congested nature of living in Dublin: 'If one was to commute from the south side of Dublin to West Dublin, or go the other way and travel to Wexford one would get here quicker.'
'They didn't meet with me or make contact to say they were having issues and if they had done I would have worked with all my might to ensure their issues were addressed, as would any elected representative, to ensure the company stays here in Wexford,' he said.
Members of the public also expressed concern and criticism of the decision and made their feelings known on the Wexford People facebook page in the wake of the story appearing on last week's front page.
One person, having commented that there is a lot of talent in Wexford, wrote: 'Everything is more expensive up there [in Dublin] it would make better sense to do a better job at recruiting locally.'
Another person posted: 'It will cost them 10 times more to operate out of Dublin. They should stay in Wexford.'