Tesco Ireland Commercial Director Joe Manning will this year take the helm as President of Appeals for the Irish Grocers Benevolent Fund (IGBF). A proud Cork man, and a well-known figure in the Irish retail sector, Joe replaces outgoing president Kevin Keating of Tennant & Ruttle, who has been in the role for the past 12 months.
“It’s my honour to serve as President of Appeals of the IGBF for 2023,” Joe explained. “Throughout my career in the industry, the IGBF has been an integral part of the retail landscape, providing essential help to those in need. Now more than ever, the role of the hardship fund is as important as it was when it began 59 years ago.
It’s a testament to the long-standing members of the industry who have ensured that we look after our industry’s members, spouses, and bereaved families right across the country.” In his role as Commercial Director with Tesco, Joe is responsible for ensuring the integrated commercial success of the business in Ireland. Having worked across a variety of commercial roles in Ireland and the UK for Cadbury/ Mondelez International, Joe joined Tesco in 2014 as Ambient Category Director, before assuming the role of Fresh Director in April 2017. Joe was then appointed Commercial Director in 2018.
In addition to the commercial strategy, Joe oversees Sourcing and Food Waste elements of Tesco’s ESG strategy, supplier relationships and its support of Irish agribusiness. Joe is also a board member of Repak. Joe is well used to the pressures of a demanding role and expects taking on the President position at IGBF will be “both challenging and very rewarding”. “I’m looking forward to the year ahead and doing my part to support the Fund,” he revealed. “Not many professions support their own in the way retail is doing and has done over the years through this network.
It is greatly admired by other professions and trades and is a hallmark of the integrity of our industry. I am committed to the role and to building on the fantastic success of the IGBF to date. I work in a great business with so many brilliant colleagues, and I really believe they can play an important role to help me during my tenure as President of Appeals.
“It’s not the first time a Tesco nominee has been in the job, so that helps, in terms of people across the business being familiar with how the IGBF operates and the kind of fundraising activities which have taken place in previous years,” continued the incoming President of Appeals. “Clearly, I have a role to play but what’s really encouraging has been the enthusiasm of the team to get involved to lead some of the activities. I’m absolutely committed to giving ample time to support the IGBF’s goals and striving to deliver the best outcomes to the beneficiaries of the Fund.”
Putting his stamp on the role
Joe believes there’s plenty of scope as President of Appeals to raise even more awareness about the vital role that the IGBF can play in helping those who need it most. “When it comes down to it, the most important part of the brief is about fund-raising,” he acknowledged. “However, I want to use my year in the position to try to raise as much awareness as I can for the organisation. We have hundreds of wonderfully generous suppliers who I know will continue to contribute in a meaningful way during 2023, and I’m hoping also to bring some new contributors on board to help increase the resources of the fund.” As always, there will be a series of regular fund-raising events which will be spread across the year. Joe says these events are always well attended, but believes that “there is always the potential to grow the numbers, and get more people involved. It is well known that there are many companies who year after year actively help to fundraise and contribute financially; however, there are many more who have not traditionally engaged with the IGBF who could be persuaded to get involved.
“From a Tesco Ireland point of view, it has been really important to us as a business to be able to give back in a meaningful way,” he added. “The IGBF, as an extension of the retail industry, also has its unique social responsibility role to play by continuing to provide assistance to relieve hardship amongst unemployed and retired members of the retail sector.”
Challenges for the year ahead
Competing with other worthy causes is always a challenge for the IGBF. However, in the current inflationary environment it can be argued that the need for the organisation is more important than ever. The numbers of people that the IGBF is helping continues to grow and doesn’t appear to be dissipating anytime soon. The IGBF is unique in terms of an Irish charity organisation funded entirely by a business sector to support people in that industry who need help: “It continues to support those colleagues across the grocery industry who have fallen on hard times, regardless of whether their companies were supporters of the IGBF or not: it doesn’t discriminate,” Joe stressed. “This is about helping our colleagues."
One of the issues in recent years has been that a relatively small amount of people do an awful lot of work when it comes to the IGBF committees, with previous Presidents of Appeals highlighting the need for new blood within the organisation, both to ease the time burden on those who have already given so much and to bring new ideas into the Fund. “I see my tenure as President of Appeals as an opportunity to get more people involved, both from within my own organisation and through the strong relationships we have with hundreds of suppliers across the country,” Joe explained.
At the end of his tenure, what would Joe like to have achieved as President of Appeals?
“Overall, I would like to grow the engagement from organisations with the IGBF. If we can achieve this, then increasing our fundraising targets will follow,” he concluded. “It is a big challenge, but I am confident that we will continue to be supported by the many great organisations who have stepped up so often for us in the past. I hope I will get more engagement from organisations and get more Tesco colleagues taking part in the different events, and overall, I’d like to see growth in the numbers of people attending the many great social events like the golf outing, the Grocers Fun Run and the TWIG lunch.