For Oral Answer on : 03/06/2021
Question Number(s): 88 Question Reference(s): 29903/21
Department: Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment if he will report on the current operation of the Covid-19 online retail scheme; if further rounds of the scheme are being planned by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
As the largest private sector employer, and a key element in providing for the needs of society and indeed other sectors of the economy, it is vital that retail continues to develop capability and remain competitive.
Trading online is a very important route for retail businesses to grow and improve and will be an important element in their recovery over the longer term.
The COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme – a competitive scheme, administered on my Department’s behalf by Enterprise Ireland – is to support companies in the indigenous retail sector who have already started an online journey, to further enhance and strengthen their online presence, which will have the most immediate impact enabling them to respond to both domestic and international consumer demand with a competitive online offer.
My Department proposed this scheme in response to the COVID-19 crisis and the urgent need for retail companies to achieve a step change in online capability. Applicant companies must be an indigenous retailer, employing 10 or more people, have an existing online presence (e.g. website or social media), and have a retail outlet through which they derive the majority of their revenue. The Scheme was launched with an initial fund size of €2m. Due to significant levels of interest for the Scheme from eligible retailers and the particular challenges facing the retail sector during the pandemic, the funding available for Call 1 was increased.
Under the first call 185 retailers were approved €6.6m in funding and under the second call 145 retailers were approved €5.3m in funding.
On 4 May, this year, Minister of State English launched a new round of the COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme. Under this call €5 million will be made available to help Irish businesses to upgrade their websites and improve their competitiveness in online retail. The call closed on the 25 May and Enterprise Ireland tell me that they have received 293 applications. A detailed due diligence and assessment process has commenced. The objective is that this will be concluded with formal notification being given to successful applications in late June.
The Deputy will also be aware of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme administered through the Local Enterprise Offices. It offers financial assistance of up to €2,500 with co-funding of 50% from the business along with training and advice to help businesses trade online.