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Some of the health store winners

Irish independents ‘vibrant and enterprising’

As the winners of the 2019 Health Stores Ireland/Better Retailing Magazine Awards were announced at the Vitality show in Dublin, the independent retail sector was told just how influential and vibrant it is.

Ireland’s independent health food retailers celebrated in style as the awards were presented in five categories in September.

The top five health stores were named as Here’s Health, Cork (Innovation and Business Development); Blásta Wholefoods, Dungarvan (Community Engagement); Evergreen, Galway (Training & Education); The Aloe Tree, Ennistymon (Environmental Initiatives); and Organico, Bantry (Digital Marketing).

Highly Commended in each category were Food For Life, Kilkenny and Health Matters, Dublin and Wicklow (Innovation & Business Development); Fruit ‘N Nut Place, Portlaoise, and Only Natural, Wexford (Community Engagement); Simple Simon’s, Donegal and Solero Viva, Tipperary (Training & Education); Loop de Loop, Castletownbere and Healing Harvest, Kinvara (Environmental Initiatives); Horan’s, Tralee and Evergreen, Galway (Digital Marketing).

The awards were presented by key industry figures including author Dr Marilyn Glenville, Institute for Optimum Nutrition founder Patrick Holford and Dr Rob Verkerk of the Alliance for Natural Health.

Alan McGrath, National Organiser for Health Stores Ireland, said: “The awards showcase the best elements from a vibrant and enterprising independent retail sector in Ireland. All the awards are presented, and graciously received, as a collective recognition of the sector’s achievements as well as some outstanding individual accomplishments.”

The Pat Curran Award for Excellence In Service was presented to Teresa Callaghan, owner of Healthy Beings, Strokestown, County Roscommon.

The highest achievers in Health Food Institute training and education were also recognised. The Andrew Cape Memorial Award for the highest achiever in the Diploma course was handed to Amanda Davies of Evergreen, Galway, while the Del Eagle Award for the Certificate course was presented to Paula Bolinska, also of Evergreen.

Special Recognition for services to retail was given to Matt Ronan, spokesperson for the VAT Campaign in Ireland, while Special Recognition to the Industry went to Gabrielle McAuley of A.Vogel Ireland.

Matt Ronan later took a leading role as a deputation from Health Stores Ireland appeared at the Oireachtas Joint Finance Committee in Dublin on October 3 to counter the proposed VAT charge on food supplements. He warned of a major decline in health supplement consumption, a knock-on impact on the health of citizens and a threat to hundreds of retailers across Ireland if VAT was imposed.

The deputation was well received and the Finance Committee agreed to issue an urgent statement to the Minister for Finance with a consensus opinion that he should legislate at Budget 2020 for the retention of zero-rated VAT on food supplements and vitamins, as has been the practice for over 40 years.

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