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Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 13 July 2021

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Questions (176)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

176. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when the remaining funding for the online retail scheme will be assigned (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37205/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

Trading online is a very important route for retail businesses to grow and improve and will be an central element in the recovery and transformation of the retail sector in Ireland 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 the COVID-19 Online Retail 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 (eg website or social media), and have a retail outlet through which they derive the majority of their revenue.

On 4 May this year, I launched the latest round of the COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme to help Irish businesses to upgrade their websites and improve their competitiveness in online retail. The call for applications closed on the 25 May.  Under this call for applications, 173 retail businesses in Ireland were approved a total of €6.3 million in funding.  To date, 503 retailers have been approved €18.2m in funding under the COVID-19 Online retail Scheme.  I am committed to supporting the needs of the retail sector, through the Retail Forum, which I chair, in developing their online capability and enhancing their competitiveness.  It is my intention to open a further round of applications for funding later this year.

For retailers starting on the digital journey, Enterprise Ireland have put together a Starter Guide outlining the broad range of considerations to be addressed.  A copy of the guide can be found on https://www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/funding-supports/Online-Retail/Online-Retail-Scheme/

For retail businesses that fall outside the criteria of the COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme, there are many other financial and non-financial supports available. These include services offered through the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs).

The Trading Online Voucher Scheme, administered by the LEOs, 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.

Businesses that have already received a Trading Online Voucher can now apply for a second voucher, where upgrades are required. Funding can be used towards adding payment facilities or booking systems to websites or developing new apps for customers.  The voucher can also be used towards subscriptions to low-cost online retail platform solutions, to help companies quickly establish a retailing presence online.

The vouchers are targeted at businesses with the following profile:

- Limited or no e-commerce presence;

- 10 or less employees;

- Turnover less than €2m;

- Applicant business must be trading for at least 6 Months**;

- Business must be located in the area covered by the LEO to whom they make their application i.e. LEOs cannot accept applications from businesses located outside their jurisdiction.

**applicant business must provide clear proof of trading for a minimum of 6 months to their Local Enterprise Office

The wide range of supports to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis can be found on the Department’s website https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/

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