Profiteering UK Retailers in Ireland exposed by Exchange Rates

Profiteering UK retailers in Ireland have been a problem for years.

In recent months, however, this has been particularly clearly demonstrated by the post-Brexit exchange rate between the Euro and Sterling.

I was down in Galway recently and rambled into Debenhams, where I picked up a coat and took a notion to pull off the Euro price tag to reveal the Sterling beneath. I was interested to see if, and to what extent, the retailer was “doing” its Irish customers.

Even though I fully expected to see something unfair and unjustified, in fact I was shocked by the extent of the blatant profiteering. With an average exchange rate of below 1.20 over the last 5 months or so, I might have expected the Stg£ 125 price to equate to somewhere around € 150 – 155 maximum. In fact, the price was € 190, a total unadulterated rip-off.

profiteering uk retailers ireland
Coat in Debenhams Galway

Recently, my ‘other half’ purchased a pair of jeans for me (bless her) in Next. Upon receipt, I did the same thing and removed the Euro price tag to reveal the Sterling “equivalent”. In this case, the Stg£ 35 item should have been priced at around € 42 –  44. As you can see, it was € 48.

profiteering uk retailers ireland
Denim at Next Castlebar

Perhaps the most telling aspect of profiteering by UK retailers in Ireland is the appearance over recent years of a new type of price label they have created for Irish stores. More difficult to remove and with a type of extra black skin underneath,  it has become difficult to reveal the Sterling price. This new departure is a clear and blatant attempt to cynically hide the outrageous exchange rate often applied to pricing in Irish stores.

Directly related to this issue of pricing in Irish bricks-and-mortar shops is the phenomenon known as “geo-blocking“, an online practice that prevents shoppers in some countries from being able to buy products and services for cheaper prices in other countries. Incredibly, this is not yet illegal within the EU.

Come across profiteering UK retailers in Ireland? Go elsewhere

Ultimately, of course, we have to question why Irish-based retailers do not take greater advantage of this appalling behaviour by UK brands. There is the argument of marketing power, on the one hand, whereby “Barry Murphy Menswear” cannot possibly compete with the advertising budget of the larger chains. On the other, there is the fact that most Irish clothing retailers source their stock in the UK anyway and lack the purchasing power to drive a hard bargain on that front. Thirdly, Irish brands simply don’t have the market clout, don’t sell the same huge volumes and couldn’t get away with it anyway. I’d like to think they wouldn’t try.

But why do we let profiteering UK retailers in Ireland get away with it? Go shop elsewhere, I say.

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