How to open a gelato shop in Ireland

How to open a gelato shop in Ireland

Thinking of dropping everything and Opening a gelato parlour in Ireland? Plenty of people are enthusiastically exporting Italian design to other countries, and it’s no surprise that Ireland, a country of such charm and love for nature, with a rich history that has remained intact for centuries, is a favourite destination. Taking the gelato business over to Ireland could be an economically viable idea. Italy is the home of hand-crafted gelato, and foreign markets can be a great opportunity, given the appeal of Italian products throughout the world.

he benefits of starting up a business in Ireland. The economy is growing rapidly, taxation is lower, bureaucracy for start-up businesses is lean and fast, rents are below the European average and it has the youngest population in Europe. But is it a good country for opening a gelato shop? Italian traditional artisanal gelato has a good chance of success wherever it has a good reputation but still very few gelato parlours. From that point of view, Ireland should be a good place to open a business because it has good per-capita consumption of gelato which is unaffected by seasonality and climate.

The first thing to do when opening a gelato parlour in Ireland is to find an accountant who knows the Irish system top to bottom from a bureaucratic and fiscal point of view and can therefore give advice. Understanding the differences between the Italian and Irish economies is essential, as is conducting an in-depth market survey and finding out about employee regulations and corporate issues. If you’re considering opening a business outside Italy,  an Accounting Firm will be able to give you the advice you need regarding the feasibility of the operation and will guide you along step by step in making your dream come true.

A good reason to open a gelato parlour in Ireland is that in the first three years new companies are exempt from paying taxes, while from the fourth year onwards the tax rate is 12.5%. After these important preliminary remarks, the first thing that needs to be done when starting up a business in Ireland is to find a good accountant to give you all the information you’ll be needing on paperwork and tax. As with any business, even abroad you will need to draw up a project that will take into account a series of key factors. One of the issues that must not be left to chance is the choice of location, as this can be a key to a business’s success or failure.

Gelato is mainly an impulse purchase, so you’ll have to choose your location on the basis of visibility, accessibility, ease of parking and compatibility with other activities in the neighbourhood. You will also have to study your customer base carefully, and make sure that the location is targeted at them, and check out which other premises you will be compared with. If you don’t come from a gelato-making background, you will need to learn the methods used to make hand-crafted gelato, from the choice of ingredients to how to use the equipment, by attending a training course. You will also need to keep up to date with market trends.

The key to success is to offer genuine italian gelato, which will satisfy everyone in terms of both flavours and food intolerances, focusing carefully on the freshness and quality of the ingredients. To ensure year-round income, we suggest making the gelato parlour part of a more general gourmet shop, by combining it with a bar area and a little patisserie. Marketing and communication will have to be handled with care, because compared with Italy the Irish market knows little about the culture of gelato, so having an excellent product will in itself not be enough to ensure success. You’ll need to understand how to communicate what Italian hand-crafted gelato really is, made with genuine ingredients and using traditional methods.



The first step when opening a gelato parlour in Ireland is to decide whether to start up as a limited company or as a sole trader. Limited companies are required by law to be registered with the Companies Registration Office (or CRO). Afterwards, you will need to apply for a VAT number with the Revenue Commissioners, the competent authority for tax in Ireland. It takes 3 to 5 working days to set up a company from the moment the CRO receives the documentation, and it costs around 100 euros. It is advisable to seek advice from an accountant who will make a list of the requisite documentation and handle the paperwork.

If you decide to open as a sole proprietorship, it's even easier. In that case, all you need to do is register with the Revenue Commissioners and you can start doing business right away. The bureaucracy involved in opening a business in Ireland is not as slow and cumbersome as in Italy, whereas the health, safety and food regulations are similar because they are set by the European Union. These require you both to get a HACCP certificate which proves that you have the required skills in matters of food safety and hygiene, and to be inspected, which can generally be arranged very quickly.

To open your premises, you will need a permit issued by the Fire Brigade which will inspect emergency exits and fire prevention measures; you will also need to be compliant with health and safety regulations and be issued with a building code compliance certificate. If you want to sell alcoholic drinks, obtaining a licence is more complex than in Italy. While Italy has one fairly generic license for alcoholic beverages, in Ireland there are three different ones: one for wine, one for beer and one for liquor.



Setting up a company or sole proprietorship in Ireland is very cheap, costing just a few hundred euros. What’s more, taxation for companies that generate trading income is 12.5%. However, while gelato parlours in Italy are small family-run businesses, abroad a solid financial base and excellent managerial skills are needed. Anyone deciding to open a gelato parlour elsewhere in the world will have to allocate a substantial part of their budget to purchasing machinery for the workshop (batch freezer, pasteurizing machine, maturation vats, refrigerated cabinets with temperatures above and below zero, etc.).

To answer the question of how much it costs to open a gelato shop in Ireland, we have to take a number of variables into account: the range of flavours to offer, the costs of fitting out the premises, the equipment, the furnishings, etc. The premises will have to have a display cabinet that is big enough for the range of flavours you will be serving up, as well as enough room for the workshop. If you are opening up a gourmet outlet, you will need more space and staff training for the different tasks involved. A key issue will be rental costs, which are affected by the size of the premises and by how close it is to the city centre.

Depending on the choices you make, the overall investment can range anywhere from 120,000 to 180,000 euros. If you want to save money, and optimize shop opening times, one option not to be dismissed out of hand would be to take over an existing gelato parlour and paying a start-up allowance (commonly known as key money).



For an entrepreneur who wants to embark on the adventure of opening a gelato parlour in Ireland, we recommend offering consumers something different, that will attract them and make them loyal customers for your parlour. This applies just as much to Ireland as it does to anywhere else in the world. Success is the result of putting together multiple ingredients and is achieved above all by demonstrating your values and ideas. But opening a business outside Italy is no simple matter and to properly comply with all the requirements, we strongly recommend hiring an accountant with relevant business experience.


Text taken from the website of the Allievi Studio of Chartered Accountants and Statutory Auditors

How to open a gelato shop in Ireland
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