Freda Hayes, CEO of The Blarney Group, is to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2016 IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards ceremony, taking place on Monday, November 21, 2016, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel (Burlington Road, Dublin 4).
Now being presented for the third year, the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award is selected by the editors and directors of IMAGE Publications; in 2014, the honour was awarded to Breege O’Donoghue, group director of Primark, and in 2015, the recipient was Mary Finan, former chair of the RTÉ Authority and one of the founding partners of Wilson Hartnell Public Relations.
As CEO of The Blarney Group, Freda Hayes oversees the development of two iconic Irish brands: Blarney Woollen Mills and Meadows & Byrne. The Group employs over 500 people between three Blarney Woollen Mills stores and 13 Meadows & Byrne stores throughout Ireland (the most recent Meadows & Byrne store opens this weekend in Castletroy, Limerick). The Blarney Group additionally runs two online stores to support these individual brands. Dove Hill Irish Design Centre, Blarney Woollen Mills Hotel and Bunratty Castle Hotel also fall under The Blarney Group portfolio – Bunratty Castle Hotel received 4* status from Fáilte Ireland this year as a result of a €1 million redevelopment.
Freda has been involved in the retail business for 50 years. At the age of 16, she left school to work with her father, the late Christy Kelleher, to run a small thatched cottage on wheels outside the gates of Blarney Castle. This mobile shop sold crafts to the tourists visiting the area and was to be Freda’s first step into the world of retail. She is also a fellow of the Irish Management Institute and has sat on many boards throughout her career – CTT (The Irish Export), Hibernian Insurance, Aer Rianta, UCC and others. She was awarded Business Woman of the Year by Veuve Clicquot in 1988. She is married to Colin and has one son, Ronan.
“We are delighted to present our most prestigious honour, the IMAGE Lifetime Achievement Award, to Freda on November 21. As longtime devotees of both Meadows & Byrne, and Blarney Woollen Mills, Irish women have grown up to be shaped by Freda’s exciting vision and taste. This, coupled with her business acumen and abundant energy makes Freda an exemplary pioneer and role model,” said Clodagh Edwards, CEO of IMAGE Publications. The award will be presented to Freda Hayes by Ann Reihill, director at IMAGE Publications and chair of the IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards panel.
The tenth IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards, in association with Samsung, Eir, No7, and The Loop, and supported by Enterprise Ireland, Marks & Spencer, Independent.ie and Newstalk, will celebrate Irish women in nine categories, along with the overall IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year award. You can view the 2016 shortlist HERE