StubbsGazette: A changing heritage since 1828


The very mention of the name "Stubb's Gazette" can be enough to strike a note of apprehension in the heart of many Irish people. Certainly “Stubb’s” is one of the most recognised brand names in the country: but perhaps not always for the right reasons.

Next month sees the reappearance of a monthly edition on the newsstands – so perhaps it’s a good time to look back as well as forward.

Stubb’s Gazette (now styled StubbsGazette) has been with us for the best part of two centuries. Its most famous literary appearance was unquestionably in James Joyce's Ulysses, the author’s fictional account of a single day in 1904. Stubb’s would have been well known to Joyce, as the name of his father, John Joyce, appeared in the publication in the year of Joyce’s birth in 1882. How far this penetrated the consciousness of Joyce is uncertain but certainly debt was something the great man was all too familiar with throughout his life.

But by the year of Joyce’s birth Stubb’s had already been in existence more than 50 years (it was first published in 1828 by the Irish Mercantile Association). By Joyce’s time Stubb's advertised itself as "a complete organisation for the protection of Bankers, Merchants, Traders, and others against risk and fraud in their various commercial transactions.” It is a description that still fits – albeit on a vastly more sophisticated level.

For many years Stubb’s Gazette was owned by the international credit rating agency Dun and Bradstreet until its current owners, Business Pro, purchased the worldwide rights to the publication in 2008.

The rationale behind the purchase was compelling: Business Pro was already the country’s premier independent credit bureau and the new publication was a natural fit. The power of the Stubbs brand was quickly leveraged with the formation of StubbsCollect, a new debt recovery service.

Integration of the more resonant Stubbs brand with the technical and operational know-how of the BusinessPro organisation is ongoing and ambition is huge.

In 2009 the company became an Enterprise Ireland client and with its support started an intensive R&D programme of new debt analysis and recovery software support systems. International expansion is firmly on the agenda and an office was opened in Glasgow the same year where StubbsGazette was relaunched.

The UK is just the start of the company’s expansion plans. In parallel we have identified opportunities in Eastern Europe, where credit bureau operations and the overall business intelligence market is in the early stages of development.  Organisations like the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development are very active in these markets, providing support for the development of infrastructure that supports the growth of good commercial credit and creates an environment in which international business is willing to invest.  The support that Enterprise Ireland provides is critical in helping us build the appropriate relationships with complex organisations like the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The emphasis these supra-national organisations put on the development of credit infrastructure is huge: they understand that is it an absolute prerequisite for economic prosperity. If an economy lacks access to widespread, meaningful and transparent credit and business information it is critically hampered in its development due to sub-optimal access to credit.

Across the developing world credit bureaus are increasingly visible and indeed are sometimes able to jump ahead of their equivalents in developed markets in terms of data quality and reporting standards.

So the need for developed markets to progress is just as urgent. For BusinessPro/StubbsGazette it is about enhancing and expanding our software capability through continual R&D.  Many of our services are delivered via the web – indeed online business subscribers to StubbsGazette can look forward to the web version of this publication to be launched shortly. The html version of Stubbs will be fully integrated with the Business Pro database and will offer intelligent, archived and contextual reporting capabilities, giving decision-makers real-time access to additional critical background information.

We are determined to provide our customers with first class search capabilities so they can extract accurate data about consumers, sole traders and commercial companies.  Our customers also expect us to be able to analyse a vast quantity of data, which we gather from multiple sources including our partners Dun & Bradstreet and the law courts in Ireland, Northern Ireland, England & Wales.  We use sophisticated software programmes and unique algorithms to analyse the data, producing meaningful results that are of real value to our customers.  With Enterprise Ireland supporting our R&D activity, we can afford to recruit the best graduates and systems analysts to deliver the kind of advanced services that can help us win business in international markets and keep BusinessPro StubbsGazette ahead of our competition.

We see ourselves as a critical resource as the country begins its long and arduous journey out of financial adversity. Our contribution is taking two forms.

First, we are determined to play our part in ridding the reputation this country has sadly earned of late as the “Wild West” of financial services. We do this through our support for enlightened financial services regulation. Most recently we were the first debt collection agency to sign up for the Irish Institute for Credit Management’s code of conduct for debt collection agencies.

Second, through the increasing sophistication of our services and our lobbying of authorities we are determined to ensure that – at a time of unprecedented credit scarcity – access to credit is not impaired through lack of information.

We need to learn from developing markets which offer major challenges for private credit bureaus in that there is little credit data available because of low levels of existing credit. For these reasons it is equally critical that developed markets extend the breadth and access to available data.

Many markets rely solely on negative data  such as missed payments and defaults in building a credit profile. Yet, in every country where data reach was extended to positive data, the credit quality has increased significantly.

Fortunately here in Ireland a positive repayment history in formal credit arrangements is taken into account in building up a rating: but the current scarcity of credit means that a new generation of borrowers will find it difficult to enter the system.

That is why it may be necessary that alternative data be taken into account – data such as mobile phone and utility payments – and objections on grounds of data privacy need to be set aside for the greater good.

Disclosure is the key. And in that spirit we are delighted that this vital and authoritative publication will be back on the newsstands where its unique and unrivalled information can be accessed by all.

Top Judgments Registered

11.11.2020

Urban Green Private Limited
Address: R/o Atkins Hall, River Towers, Lee Road, Cork
Amount: €734,547.90

10.11.2020

Thomas O'Brien
Address: Castlegrace, Clogheen, County Tipperary
Amount: €93,749.13

10.11.2020

Margaret O'Brien
Address: Castlegrace, Clogheen, County Tipperary
Amount: €87,979.01

06.11.2020

Sean Browne
Address: 24 Woodlands Avenue, Arklow, Co Wicklow
Amount: €38,094.60

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