New EY Entrepreneur of the Year, first-time mortgage approvals at fresh high, and Fallon & Byrne’s strong revenues

The best news, analysis and comment from The Irish Times business desk

Sam Moffett credited his family and his staff as he accepted the overall EY Entrepreneur of the Year award for 2023 at a ceremony in Co Wicklow on Thursday evening. “Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” said the managing director of Monaghan-based Moffett Automated Storage, which he founded in 2017. The business, which EY described as “disruptive and dynamic”, provides automated pallet storage and warehousing solutions.

Also recognised at the awards ceremony was Ciaran Marron, founder of fellow Monaghan company Activ8 Solar Energies, who was named Established Entrepreneur of the Year. Active8 has installed more than 100,000 solar panels since its 2007 establishment. Tom Walsh, co-founder of Staycity, was meanwhile named International Entrepreneur of the Year. He set up the short-term apartment rental company with his brother Ger Walsh in 2003.

Away from the celebrations, Central Bank governor Gabriel Makhlouf said on Thursday that he would not rule out another interest rate hike from the European Central Bank, while warning the impact of higher rates has yet to be fully felt across the economy. Eoin Burke-Kennedy reports on the comments, which came as the Central Bank published its latest Financial Stability Review. Eoin also looks ahead to the recession that could soon become a hard reality.

And still in the ambit of mortgages and interest rates, Laura Slattery writes that first-time buyer mortgage approvals reached new highs in the year to the end of October despite a wider market slowdown, according to the latest figures from the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI). The trend came as the total number of mortgages approved fell both in volume and value terms, with much of the drop driven by lower switching levels.


Elsewhere, restaurant and food retailer Fallon & Byrne has reported strong revenue growth for last year as the streamlined business bounced back from Covid and the group’s flagship store on Dublin’s Exchequer Street saw increased footfall. Eoin Burke-Kennedy has more on that story.

Berlin-based Derek Scally takes a deep dive into Germany’s debt obsession in this week’s long-read Agenda, finding that economic paralysis could be lurking in the background.

David Watson, boss of electric vehicle charging company Ohme, features in this week’s Business Interview. He tells Ciara O’Brien about the twists and turns his career took before settling where it has, including a chemistry degree and a few years with a hedge fund. He also explains why Ohme is aiming to become a “gigacorn”.

In our Work section, Olive Keogh takes a look at ageism in the workplace, arguing it can prove costly for business. It persists, she writes, in a classic clash between assumption and reality, with those doing the hiring and firing needing a reality check. Also in Work, we ask if it’s your employer’s business who your work friends might be, and consider why office recycling bins turn us into monsters.

And finally, John FitzGerald looks back at 50 years of EU membership, concluding that the State has over the period moved from being a very closed world to opening up to new ideas, new ways of thinking and new ways to organise our society.

Úna McCaffrey

Úna McCaffrey

Úna McCaffrey is an Assistant Business Editor at The Irish Times