News & Events

Minister Humphreys announces new pilot scheme to support retail online capability

€625,000 available to support retail businesses to strengthen their online offering

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, today officially launched a new €625,000 pilot competitive scheme for eligible SMEs in the retail sector. The new scheme, to be delivered by Enterprise Ireland, will support retailers to strengthen their online trading capabilities in order to compete internationally.

The Minister made the announcement at a meeting of the Retail Consultation Forum which brings together representative bodies and public- sector bodies to discuss the developmental needs of the retail sector. In addition to announcing the new Scheme, the Minister launched an information leaflet about the range of existing Brexit related supports available to the retail sector.

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys TD said “Driving productivity and competitiveness in order to support quality and sustainable careers in our Irish-owned enterprises is a key focus for my Department. Ireland’s enterprise policy, Enterprise 2025 Renewed, places a heightened emphasis on building resilience in our enterprise base in the face of significant external challenges, including Brexit. This is very important for sectors such as retail that have a large focus on the domestic market but have an opportunity to grow in the international marketplace.”

The new pilot retail online scheme was developed by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) with Enterprise Ireland in response to a need they have identified for a step change in online capability in the retail sector as set out in the Action Plan for Jobs 2017. By supporting a cohort of SME retailers with grants between €10,000 to €25,000 on a match fund basis to enhance their digital capability, DBEI aims to encourage the retail sector in Ireland to develop a more competitive online offer, that will enable an increase in their customer base and build a more resilient business in the domestic and global marketplace both online and offline.

Commenting on the new Scheme, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys TD said: “Many retailers face increasing international competition on their doorstep and need to enhance their competitiveness. I want to acknowledge the support of the Retail Forum members over the past two years in clearly articulating the needs of the retail sector so that we can put in place an initial response to some of the challenges Irish-owned retailers are facing to maintain and grow their market share.”

The total fund size is up to €625,000. Applications for funding to include; Research, Strategy Development, Implementation, and Training will be considered on a competitive basis.

In recognition of the strong role the retail sector plays in supporting regional development and vibrant communities, at least 50% of the total number of grants awarded will be reserved for retail SMEs with their headquarters outside of county Dublin once the qualification threshold score is met.

Speaking at the launch of the Online Retail Scheme, Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland said: “Enterprise Ireland’s mission is to support companies to build scale and expand their reach in global markets and the online retail scheme launched today aims to encourage the retail sector to develop a more competitive online offer, that will not only help increase their customer base domestically but assist in broadening their reach and building a more resilient business in the global marketplace. More than ever Irish retailers are facing ever increasing competition from international brands and operators through online channels and there is a strong need for Irish retailers to innovate through digitalisation. We anticipate a good response to the opening of the pilot scheme and look forward to working with retailers to further enhance their online presence.”

Further information on the new pilot Retail Online Scheme is available on the Enterprise Ireland website,

The Building Stronger Business- Getting Brexit Ready: Summary of Brexit supports available to Retail Businesses leaflet will be circulated to retailers through the various retail representative bodies and is also available to download at


About the new Online Retail Competitive Scheme:
The purpose of this scheme is to support Irish-owned retail SMEs to embed a more sophisticated online trading (e-tailing) strategy in their business model. The grant will enable circa 25 companies to improve their competitiveness by supporting costs including research, consultancy and training. The maximum grant available is €25,000. The grant is calculated at a maximum of 50% of company expenditure of up to €50,000 incurred by the successful applicants. The total fund size is €625,000. If all successful applicants received the maximum grant of €25,000 then there would be funding for 25 companies. However, if the grant size is lower in some cases, it may be possible to fund more companies. Applicant companies must be an Irish-owned small or medium sized retail enterprise that has the potential to create jobs, generate growth in sales and internationalise their business. The business must also:
• have an existing online presence (e.g. website or social media)
• have a retail outlet and derive the majority of revenue from the retail outlet(s)
• Must employ at least 20 employees in the Republic of Ireland (on a full-time equivalent basis)
Typical elements involved in developing a sophisticated and transactional online presence include research, consultancy costs for strategy development and implementation and training costs.

The pilot scheme will open at the end of October.

Key Facts
• Jobs: 1 in every 7 people employed works in the retail and wholesale sector: it is the largest private sector employer in the country
• The sector lost almost 50,000 jobs in the recession, but since 2014 there has been a slow but steady year-on-year increase to over 300,000 in employment in Q2 2018
• Regional Impact: Retail supports jobs in every city, town and village in the country
• Economic Importance: generates €30 billion in sales annually, €7 billion in tax revenues, 23% of overall tax returns

The Retail Consultation Forum
The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation convenes the Retail Consultation Forum and provides it with Secretariat support. The Forum enables key issues affecting the retail sector to be discussed, with a view to identifying practical actions which could be taken by Government, or by industry itself, to support sustainable jobs growth in the sector. The Forum is chaired by Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation.


The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) plays a key role in implementing the Government’s policies of stimulating the productive capacity of the economy and creating an environment which supports job creation and maintenance. The Department also has a remit to promote fair competition in the marketplace, protect consumers and safeguard workers.

For further information please contact Press Office, D/Business, Enterprise and Innovation, or (01) 631-2200