Author Archives: TBR Team

How Covid-19 Has Affected Amazon

By Udita Gulati

COVID-19 has drastically changed the dynamic of businesses and the economy. Ecommerce is a sector that has experienced an interesting impact due to how consumer behaviour has adapted in response to the world-wide lockdown. Consumers have turned to online shopping in order to fulfil their needs from home. Businesses that cater to essentials in the healthcare industry such as facemasks and hand sanitizers, and online grocery shopping have experienced a dramatic spike in demand. Amazon is a company that has strategically taken advantage of this consumer demand and reacted accordingly to make provisions for these new needs. 

Negative impacts of COVID-19 

According to Fortune, Amazon was met with an enormous upsurge of orders as customers resorted to online shopping to acquire essential supplies. It had to enlarge its workforce and recruit an additional 175,000 employees in order to meet these demands.  Subsequently, the company faced a labour crisis as workers complained about the lack of adequate safety measures in warehouses. Amazon was quick to implement stronger precautions to keep its employees safe, and hence had to increase its costs. It spent US$4 billion on protective equipment, COVID-19 testing, and increased salaries for frontline workers. 

In addition, Amazon’s USP of prompt delivery was impaired – especially for Prime customers who specifically signed up for one day delivery – thus hurting its reputation. The surge of orders consequently caused its sellers to suffer. For a period of time, Amazon was forced to prioritise medical supplies and household staples at its warehouses. It temporarily discontinued FBA (Fulfilment By Amazon), a service that aids sellers with shipping logistics by sending products directly to an Amazon warehouse, for sellers with nonessential items. Small businesses, that make up 58% of its third-party sellers, were especially vulnerable due to this decision as they struggled to cut costs and re-evaluate their business plans. This left third-party sellers feeling helpless as Amazon failed to provide them with a contingency plan. 

Positive impacts of COVID 

Amazon braved these initial challenges by tackling the issues COVID-19 posed and has, as Time believes, emerged stronger than ever. It announced record sales and profit in spite of the world being in a pandemic. Its website traffic jumped to 2.54 billion visits in March and its revenue increased by 40% compared to a year before from US$89.9 billion to $122 billion. 

As brick-and-mortar stores were forced to shut down, consumers turned to Amazon’s diverse online marketplace to satisfy their needs. After Amazon resolved its operational strain and lifted the restrictions on FBA, customers began to increasingly rely on the wide array of products that could meet their needs in a speedy fashion. Economies of scale and efficiency have allowed the company to quickly adjust to the new external business environment – which works as the catalyst for moving past COVID-19 hurdles faster and stronger than its competitors. 

Not only did Amazon’s B2C model progress, but the B2B model also experienced growth. The company’s cloud business, Amazon Web Services (AWS), faced a higher demand as companies such as Netflix, Zoom, Facebook, Twitter, and Epic Games (developers behind Fortnite) that run on AWS faced a surge in traffic as people spent more time indoors. The rise in working and studying remotely resulted in the demand for cloud services to substantially increase. Amazon’s Twitch in particular has been popular in the digital entertainment industry as professional basketball and football players now stream themselves playing video games due to the hiatus live sports has taken. 

How might COVID affect Amazon’s future? 

As the pandemic prevails, Amazon will continue to reap the benefits of changing consumer habits becoming increasingly dependent on technology. As users spend more time online, they could be inclined to subscribe to other Amazon services such as Prime Video or Audible. The diversity of its product portfolio, ability to continually meet consumer needs, and methods of excelling in its supply chain management – amidst one of the most trying periods businesses have ever faced – bolsters its aggressive hold on customers and aggressive position against rivals. 

That being said, this power comes with its own predicaments. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has had to previously partake in an investigation regarding online platforms and market power wherein he was questioned if “in the age of Big Tech, how big is too big?”. Amazon’s drastic growth may push the firm further in this undesirable direction. Its increasing market share and the world’s dependence on it alarms policymakers and makes them question whether the company is too powerful and thus behaving in a monopolistic and anti-competitive manner. 

What the EU Court Ruling On The Apple-Ireland Tax Case Means

By Isha Neurgaonkar

On 15th July, the European General Court in Luxembourg ruled that the Republic of Ireland did not give Apple illegal state aid, reversing the decision of the European Commission. In 2016, the Commission stated that Ireland broke EU state aid rules by granting undue tax benefits to Apple. It had ordered the Irish government to collect €13.4 billion of unpaid taxes from 2003–2014.
    
What happened? 
Ireland has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the EU (12.5%). It is Apple’s base for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In 2016, the European Commission said that Ireland had allowed Apple to attribute nearly all of its EU earnings to an Irish head office that only existed on paper, thereby avoiding paying tax on EU revenues. The Commission declared this constituted illegal aid given to Apple by the Irish state. The Irish government argued that Apple should not have to repay the taxes, deeming that its loss was worth it to make the country an attractive home for large companies.


In 2014, Apple’s Irish structure consisted of two subsidiaries, Apple Operations Ireland (AOI), an Irish-registered holding company and the Apple Sales International (ASI) an Irish-registered subsidiary of Apple Operations Europe (AOE). Apple did not follow the Double Irish structure by using two separate Irish companies but instead used two separate branches inside one single company, ASI. The EU Commission alleged this was illegal state aid. This structure was not offered to other multinationals in Ireland, which had used the traditional “two separate companies” version.


The Commission argued that the rulings allowed Apple to make most of its European sales through an employee-less head office, which was non-resident for tax purposes. Only the activities of the Irish branches within the same units were subject to tax in Ireland. The intellectual property behind Apple products lay inside these Irish branches, signifying that most of the profits were taxable by Revenue. Apple argued that it was held outside the branches and controlled by the group headquarters. 


What next? 
A report from the OECD predicts that the rate of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) internationally may fall by 30-40% as companies re-evaluate their strategies post the COVID 19 pandemic. FDI has been an integral part of the Irish economic strategy since the 60s. To this day, the Irish economy is still reliant on FDI. Eduardo Baistrocchi, a professor of tax law at the London School of Economics, described Ireland as a “non-G20 hub in the international tax system” to DW. He then explained that Non-G20 hubs are “a group of countries that connect multinational enterprises (MNEs) with market jurisdictions to minimise the tax entry and tax exit costs of the MNEs. Ireland connected Apple with markets across all continents. Baistrocchi also remarked that “in 2014, for every $1 million of profit that Apple earned from its European operations, Apple paid $50 tax in Europe: an effective tax rate of 0.005%.”

According to both Baistrocchi and Liz Nelson at the Tax Justice Network, this problem is global. Baistrocchi comments that the tax-hub model is not prohibited by the international tax regime. Thus, the international tax regime is “broken” due to the power and influence of big multinationals like Apple. While the General Court said that there were “inconsistencies” and “defects” with Revenue’s approach, the Commission failed to show that the outcome was flawed and that Apple paid less tax than it should have. The ruling of the court has since been appealed by the European
Commission before the Court of Justice of the European Union, the EU’s highest court.

In the current global politico-economic scenario (where all countries are fighting to gain more in an environment of uncertain economic globalisation), abiding by the rules of geopolitical organisations like the EU and implementing strong FDI policies are both important factors for the growth trajectory of relatively smaller economies like Ireland. Ultimately, balancing these factors correctly could help both national and global economies and businesses thrive.

Budget 2021: What We Know So Far

By Paul Ralph

  • Minister announces no changes to PAYE, USC or PRSI.
  • Central Bank Governor Gabriel Makhlouf calls for path to “sustainable debt” and a focus on building resilience to future shocks.
  • IBEC lobbies for gradual tapering of business supports into 2021 as opposed to a “cliff-edge” end.

Last Wednesday, the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe confirmed that there would be no changes to income tax, USC or PRSI. At a press briefing he explained that cabinet had agreed that increases in taxation would be counterproductive. The Minister wants to “give confidence to those earning income or who a have level of deposits in our economy” in a time of “heightened economic uncertainty”. The main focus of the government is the management of the Covid-19 crisis and the looming prospect of a no-deal Brexit at the end of the year. This was made clear when the Minister explained that only “future budgets” would be guided by the commitments made in the Programme for Government agreed between the three governing parties. 

Minister Donohoe declined to rule out any possible changes to welfare payments.

Donohoe’s Fianna Fáil counterpart, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath said that government spending this year would be 23% higher than forecasted due to the unprecedented scale of government intervention in the economy due to the Covid-19 pandemic.   

The unpredictability of the current crisis is adding to the difficulty of planning a budget. Speaking to RTÉ news on Wednesday, Minister McGrath said he was currently working with officials to ascertain how much extra spending will be required next year for schools, the health service, new college places and the additional costs of reduced capacity public transport.   

On the same day, the Governor of the Central Bank Gabriel Makhlouf wrote to the Minister for Finance in his pre-Budget letter outlining what policy needs to focus on. In the letter, the Governor outlined three goals of policy:

  • Policy should focus on “supporting the productive capacity of the economy”.
  • Path to lower and sustainable debt will eventually have to be forged.
  • Continued “focus on building resilience to future shocks”.

Regarding the first point, Minister Donohoe has yet to introduce any labour market activation policies such as new training programmes. He is instead opting for the continuation of a reduced Pandemic Unemployment Payment scheme until the end of the year. This has received condemnation from the opposition with Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin calling for the reintroduction of the €350 weekly payment in light of increased restrictions.  

The Central Bank Governor also advised against supporting loss-making enterprises, arguing that it was “not in the community’s interest”. However, it will be difficult for the government to distinguish what firms had an unsustainable business model entering this recession given its nature. The Governor recommended that the Government make provisions for business support grants. Also, he expects that debt will be an unattractive prospect for many SMEs because of the “scarring effect” of the previous crisis, banks’ reduced lending appetite and any debt overhang during the recovery. So far, the government has not yet hinted at any changes for the whole economy after Level 3 restrictions were introduced in Dublin last Friday. Nonetheless, the government committed to an extra €30 million in aid for businesses in the Capital.    

Covid-19 restrictions have hit SMEs extremely hard. The Government’s current emergency supports are due to end in the first half of 2021. In IBEC’s pre-budget submission they call for provisions to be made for the tapering of supports to avoid a cliff edge for thousands of businesses. The group said that the package of supports would need to be in the region of €6 billion on top of the €20 billion that will have been spent by the government on business supports by the first half of 2021.

According to IBEC’s chief economist, Ger Brady, who was speaking at the launch of the group’s pre-budget submission, the Government will run a deficit this year of about €30 billion. To give this figure more context, in 2019 there was a small surplus of €1.5 billion. The last time the deficit was so large was in 2011 when it hit €30.5 billion, starkly illustrating the extent to which the Irish economy is now reliant on government stimulus. 

A Guide For Incoming Freshers Of Business-Related Degrees

by Jody Murphy

Hello, and welcome! If you’re reading this article, I presume that you are one of two things, an incoming student, or, someone keen on reading insightful business-related content. If you fall into the first category, I hope this article will benefit you greatly as you progress through your first year of study. Anyone else may find that reading this article lacks relevance, and thus I encourage you to explore our website for content better suited to your interests.


I believe a congratulations are in order to all those successful in making it into Trinity’s Class of 2024! I hope this article will assist you in your navigation of academic and social life at Trinity. Although you have started your college career during a global pandemic, with the aid of technology, you can rest assured that it will have only a marginal impact on your life as an undergraduate.

Societies

Trinity is host to many great societies, but there are six focused specifically on business. It is important to note that there are no requirements for becoming a member of these societies. You don’t need to be studying a business-related degree, nor do you need any prior experience or credentials.

Trinity Student Managed Fund (SMF)

I spoke to this year’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Liam Collins.

“The SMF is Trinity’s premier society for finance, investing, and professional services. Traditionally we run workshops on investment research, trading and professional development alongside our fantastic, highly regarded sponsors. The SMF will be running as close to ‘business as usual’ as possible, running these events online for the first semester. Anyone interested in these workshops is encouraged to apply to be an Analyst on our website (http://www.trinitysmf.com/). Also online this semester will be our annual Women in Business Conference. We are looking forward to running some great events this semester, even with the new normal.”

Trinity Entrepreneur Society (TES)

I spoke to Daryne Kushnir, the society’s PRO.

“There are few societies in Trinity that have hatched multi-million-euro business ideas, but TES prides itself in being able to do so (if you have a multi-million idea, that is). We offer a steppingstone to young inventive students, who want to become the next Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, through programs such as Incubator, Dragon’s Den and through various networking events. TES has always had a fantastic presence on campus, despite being only seven years old. We consistently gather around 2000 members each year, aided by our brilliant Fresher’s Week campaign and our high-quality, professional events. Continuing this standard online will be a challenge, but the current TES committee has worked unstintingly to organise exciting new events for the coming year. We’re starting off with an Information Night, for those new to the university (or anyone who would like to learn about the society in general), an event with Kingsley Aikins (a brilliant storyteller and the CEO of The Networking Institute) and some exciting competitions with goodies, to give students the Freshers Week buzz they might be missing this year. Our Incubator and Dragon’s Den competition will be held online, with applications coming soon. A chance to do these events from home means we can hopefully, gather more students to participate. Pitching and receiving professional guidance will now be a matter of logging onto Zoom and just showing up. We’re also running our Ambassadors program, with applications to come on our social media in the next two weeks. The best piece of advice we can give right now is to head over to Facebook and Instagram and give us a follow. All of our updates, Zoom links and goodie-competitions will be posted out there. We can’t wait to see some fresh new faces and ideas!”

Dublin University Business and Economics Society (DUBES)

The society’s PRO, Sarah Davis, and Careers Convenor, Ana Bellow, gave an introduction to the society.

“DUBES is one of Trinity’s oldest and largest societies founded in 1929. DUBES was established with one clear goal; to provide our members with access to academic, social and professional opportunities that will help prepare them for the professional world.  Although we are facing a significantly different challenge this year, like other successful organisations, we will adapt rather than buckle. As of now, popular social events like the BESS Ball and the Mystery Tour are on hold this year, but the reasons for joining our society are more compelling than ever. We have moved everything online for the upcoming Michaelmas term but have doubled the number of events held this year compared to last year. Our members will have access to an exciting line-up of speakers from companies such as Linkedin, Ernest and Young, Revolut, Salesforce and BP as well as a host of educational events throughout the calendar year. So, DUBES is taking a glass-half-full view of our enforced reality. We will continue planning in accordance with government regulations and guidelines and in the best interests of our members. Of course, if these regulations and guidelines are relaxed in future, DUBES will also begin hosting on-campus events and a range of social events. We are looking forward to engaging with our new members with a sense of hope and optimism. We remain upbeat. We are resilient. This year, Freshers Week will not have the same frenetic buzz that many of us were lucky enough to experience in the past, but Trinity societies still have plenty to offer. We are collaborating with Trinity Hall JCR for a virtual Freshers Week Social Event so keep an eye on our Instagram and Facebook pages for more information. This is hopefully the first of more virtual social events, we are testing how we would be able to run them at the moment.  We will continue to innovate and excite. We will continue to provide the kind of opportunities that have enriched college life for so many students for so many years.”

Dublin University Consulting Society (DUCS)

A new addition to Trinity this year, Conor Perry, an active member of the Irish Student Consulting Group spoke to me about what this new society involves.

“DUCS is the Trinity branch of the Irish Student Consulting Group (ISCG). The ISCG aims to provide a platform for Ireland’s highest achieving students across all disciplines to get real-world business experience and insight into the world of consulting. Within Trinity, the DUCS will aim to attract the highest achieving students within the college and engage them in working with clients to help solve tangible business problems within a real-world business environment. Given the current pandemic, all consulting projects and events will be completed virtually. These include digital information meetings, networking evenings with our alumni network and the likely digitisation of the consulting competitions (both national and international) that DUCS intends to enter. We encourage all students to apply to join and attend one of our information evenings to learn more about the DUCS.”


Trinity’s Developer Student Club (TCD DSC)

Another new addition to Trinity this year, I spoke to society’s Marketing and Relations Lead, Alexandra Ichim.

“TCD DSC is a student-led tech community. It’s open to students from any course with an interest in using Google Developer technologies to solve real-world problems. We’ll be hosting events to cater to members of all skill levels throughout the year featuring talks from guest speakers, technology workshops and ongoing certification programs. TCD DSC is a great opportunity to connect with and learn from students across campus, all while making a real difference in your community. To join, follow the link in our bio on our Instagram account @tcddsc.”

Trinity Business Review (TBR)

Last but certainly not least, the Trinity Business Review. TBR is an online student-run publication that gives its readers unique insights into the business world. The review is an excellent way to meet people from a diverse range of courses and disciplines with an interest in the ever-changing business environment. We are always looking for new correspondents as well as Junior Fresh representatives so if you are interested in writing for TBR, or generating publicity for the review, send an email to trinitybusinessreview@gmail.com.

Modules

Getting to grips with the modules you are studying is essential to avoid any unnecessary confusion. I highly recommend that you use the links below to look up the modules you are taking.

Business modules can be found here:
https://www.tcd.ie/business/undergraduate/module-outlines/

Economics modules can be found here:
https://www.tcd.ie/Economics/undergraduate/modules/

Politics modules can be found here:
https://www.tcd.ie/Political_Science/undergraduate/module-outlines/

Sociology modules can be found here: https://www.tcd.ie/sociology/undergraduate/modules/

Law modules can be found here:
https://www.tcd.ie/law/programmes/undergraduate/modules/

Personal Experience

Recently I’ve been thinking about my first year as a BESS student, and I’ve come up with some advice that I hope you will find useful.

The first is to relax. Making the transition from an environment where you know a great number of people to one where you know few, can be an experience shadowed by anxiety and stress. You may find that prospect of going to your first in-person lecture, attending a society event or interacting with new people somewhat daunting. I can assure you that you are not the only one. It can take some time to fit into college life. The best way to speed this process up is to get involved. Why not become an ambassador for TES, an analyst for the SMF, a consultant for the DUCS or, a correspondent for the Trinity Business Review? You’re in the first year of your degree, there has never been a better time to get stuck in!

The second piece of advice relates to module selection. Towards the end of Hillary term, you will select your second-year modules. It’s important you know that whichever modules you choose to study for second year will determine which modules you can choose for third and fourth years. For example, if you are a BESS student and you chose not to study ‘Mathematical and Statistical Methods A & B’ for your second year, this will limit which economics modules you can study for third and fourth year.

I hope this article serves you well as you progress through Junior Fresh. Be sure to follow the Trinity Business Review on social media to learn of new articles as they are published. On behalf of the TBR team, I would like to wish you the best of luck throughout your years at Trinity.

Sustainability in Business, Sustainability as Business

By Ciarán Quinn

Before the pandemic consumed the eyes and ears of the world, the cry for the halt to climate change and destruction caused by the world’s economy was a silent wave coming to its peak. Whether it was a schoolgirl from Sweden being awarded Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for her efforts to raise awareness on the issue, or the hundreds of school strikes organized around the globe, a wary eye was cast once again on the efforts companies are making to heed these warnings. There are plenty of examples of companies who have blatantly disregarded their environmental responsibilities in the past. Take Volkswagen’s ‘Diesel gate’ or the continued deforestation of the Amazon by the likes of Costco and Walmart. It is clear from the profile of these companies, an auto industry powerhouse and the world’s largest company by revenue in 2019, that thus far sustainability is not something they feel is vital to the present and future success of their businesses. The likes of Ryanair have introduced a voluntary ‘carbon footprint offset fee’, which seems to try and give back through environmental schemes, rather than tackling or reducing the issue head-on. This all begs the question, is sustainability within business achievable? And is the notion of sustainability as a core business element constituent only possible as an allusion?


There are examples of hope to contrast the examples of doom mentioned above. Many household companies have embraced sustainability and the chances it creates, with different approaches to the issues allowing for innovation and creativity in this field. This has led to disruption and new improvements across all aspects of business. Whether it be supply chain or the product itself, sustainability is slowly being embraced across the board, although some companies have shown great agility in their conversion to sustainable practices also.


Adidas have concentrated on creating a greener supply chain, with a focus on reducing energy used and importantly water consumption- which has historically played a huge role in the fabric-dyeing process. This has been made possible through the reconfiguring of their production process with the implementation of ‘Drydye’ technology. Another project by Adidas is their collaboration with Parley, a non-profit organization to commit to creating shoes from 100% recycled polyester. This will be possible through a material called ‘primeblue’, which the two have collaborated on creating from plastics and polyesters recycled from the ocean. Another lifestyle-clothing stalwart is Nike, who have
focused on the introduction of recycled and reconstituted materials in their products. Most notably, 75% of the products produced by Nike partially contain some recycled material. This effort has culminated in the release of Nike’s ‘space hippie’ collection, which combines sustainability with radical design. The result is a fashionable sports lifestyle shoes made from between 85-90% recycled materials. Furthermore, Companies have focused on logistics to drive improvements. British supermarket Tesco have invested to improve rail systems to shift a portion of their distribution
network from road to the more environmentally friendly rail network. It’s clear that these firms see sustainability as an important issue in their profitability and future growth. While the companies mentioned above have begun to adopt sustainability as a core element of their businesses, there are several companies that have sustainability as a core constituent since their inception. Patagonia is a clothing company which puts the environment and sustainability above all else, whether it be through their ‘don’t buy this jacket’ campaign or use of 70% recycled materials across their range. Tesla have shifted their product focus to machines that build a future foundation for the firm, where the use of fossil fuels is eliminated through their groundbreaking technology.


None of Tesla’s vehicles have tailpipe emissions and the company have revolutionised how homes can be fueled through their intuitive solar roof technology. The potential for advancement through renewable energy and sustainability can be seen here, with the opportunity for solar energy to charge a customer’s car at home rather than having to stop at a petrol station. With every advancement in sustainable fields such as renewable energy for Tesla, even more innovation is demanded, and the likes of Tesla are delivering.


Another company taking an approach similar to Tesla’s, but within the fashion industry is the brand SAYE. SAYE is a start-up founded in Barcelona, which has incorporated sustainability across all its activities from the start. Their shoes are made from a host of ecological and recycled materials. The leather comes from European farms, which have been vetted as respecting environmental stewardship standards. The laces are produced from organic cotton, allowing them to easily integrate back into the cycles of the earth for future generations. The insoles are produced from PU foam, repurposed from the by-products of the European car industry. The company has also ensured all packaging is made entirely from recycled materials and promises to plant two trees for each pair of their shoes sold, with 90,000 trees planted to date. With their production facilities located in northern Portugal, the company guarantees fair wages and working hours, with worker friendly policies concerning overtime and conditions. With sustainability underpinning the ethos of the company, SAYE are in the best position to take advantage of the many opportunities and innovation stemming from this vital and growing sector.


The struggle between sustainability and profitability has long been a source of contention within business regarding its achievability. Too many companies have given lip service, but few up until now have made it a real purpose. Today’s world of Greta Thunberg and climate activism doesn’t see this issue as it once did and demands that real change be made. Patagonia, SAYE and Tesla have risen to the challenge. The idea of sustainability as business is clear from these companies making honest change, and the success of these businesses is reflective of that.

« Older Entries