A business owner in Dublin said she could not afford to hire new staff due to soaring energy costs and other bills.
Sarah Kelly owns The Village Butcher in Ranelagh with her husband Michael Madden. The family business has existed for 10 years.
Ms Kelly had paid 17c per unit and decided to contact various energy suppliers ahead of her renewal date. She received an offer of 54 cents and said she was “stunned” to learn the unit cost had tripled.
“I emailed all the usual companies, four or five of them and the first email that came back was from Electric Ireland and they quoted me 54 cents a unit.
“My last bill was around €1,800 so taking into account the duties and bits and pieces I used around 1,000 units and applying that to this 54c brought us to €5,500.”
Ms Kelly eventually received an offer of 33.5 cents from another supplier, which is still double the original price.
She said the cost of running the company was increasing across the board.
“I just couldn’t believe it. I knew there would be an increase. I was expecting maybe 25c but couldn’t believe it when the bills came in.
“My jaw hit the floor, I was like, ‘Oh my god, what are we doing here? It’s not sustainable.”
“We’ve had constant price increases, really from mid-February.”
Citing the rising cost of feed and fertilizer for farmers, she said the company has seen price increases on almost everything they need.
“We had packaging price hikes and then raw materials – obviously there were issues with Covid and China being in lockdown. And of course the war in Ukraine, so it was just constant.”
Ms Kelly said companies are now left with no choice but to raise prices to pay their bills.
She said a supplier increased the price of a product by 50 cents and will “take that hit” as she refuses to charge her customers more.
“You want to raise your prices for your customers yet again, but there’s a cap on what you can charge people.
“I’m looking at fillet steaks right now and we got a text message from the farmer we’re buying and he said he was in the market on Saturday and beef prices are high again.
“So I would say that fillet steak is maybe €70 a kilo this summer and last summer it was €45.
“Even the cheaper cuts. Everything went up by €2 or €3 per kilo. So you see your grocery bill is 40 percent more expensive than it was last year, and now your electric bill is 40 percent or 50 percent more expensive.”
Ms Kelly said the increased cost of living was putting many people out of business and “stunting growth”.
“We had planned to hire another employee this summer, but that’s now gone out the window.
“Everyone here works so hard. We have a great team, but it’s very hard work. You’re on your feet all day, it’s very fast. The average week here is 45 hours: that’s your minimum number of hours, but it would be nothing to do more than 50 hours here.
“So, [the staff] deserve to be paid well and taken care of, but it just squeezes us in every way.
Ms Kelly said she and her husband are doing everything they can to stay in business. “We’re doing everything we can not to go broke, but that means working seven days a week and you get sick.
“It’s tough,” she said.
“For me and Michael, we lost business in the recession and we were in massive debt and we only got out of it through hard work, working 70 to 80 hours a week to rebuild the business. And I just feel, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe we’re under pressure again.’
“You just think, does it ever get easier?”
In a statement to the Irish Independent, Electric Ireland said: “Electric Ireland communicated with all its business customers on 1 April 2022 to advise of a price increase for all SME variable standard tariff customers.
“The increases are the result of continued increases in wholesale energy costs.
“The increase depends on the individual usage behavior of business customers.”
https://www.independent.ie/business/irish/my-jaw-hit-the-floor-i-thought-we-just-cant-sustain-this-says-butcher-on-skyrocketing-costs-of-doing-business-41629331.html “My jaw hit the ground. I thought we just couldn’t keep it up,” Metzger says of the skyrocketing business costs