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SME sector left waiting for State to help it off the ground

In early March, Noelle O’Connor, the founder of TanOrganic, was in a buoyant mood. Her product – the world’s first and only eco-certified organic self-tanning brand – had landed on the shelves of 250 Boots stores in the UK at the start of the year. As a result, TanOrganic had posted highest-ever sales for January and February, months when demand for self-tanning is typically low.

But mid-March ushered in an existential threat to both O’Connor and the Newbridge-based business she had set up during the last recession, with the help of an investment secured on RTÉ’s Dragons’ Den. On March 16, she suddenly experienced a high temperature, extreme fatigue and headaches. It would be the end of April before a test finally confirmed she had suffered from Covid-19.

When the country was locked down to halt the spread of the coronavirus, and TanOrganic’s 12 staff were put on the Government’s temporary wage subsidy scheme, O’Connor feared the company would be out of business by June.

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