Retailers have welcomed the revival of plans to introduce a national postcode system in the Republic of Ireland and believe the move should help catalogue and online businesses operate efficiently there.

Other than Greece, Ireland is the only EU member state that does not have an established postcode system, which means that offering a home delivery service is a complex and often expensive challenge.

But last week the Irish government said it intends to introduce codes comprising digits and letters in 2011.

The lack of such a system has been blamed for holding back the growth of home shopping in Ireland, because addresses have to be read manually and customer data is harder to compile.

David Fitzsimons, chief executive of trade association Retail Excellence Ireland, said the new system was a “good thing” for retailers and would lift online sales.

Steve Makin, finance director of home shopping group Shop Direct, which operates in Ireland, welcomed the plans. “It will certainly help our Irish business,” he said. “Although we haven’t seen the details of the proposal we think it could be positive. A postcode system in Ireland would help on a number of factors, not least credit references.”

The introduction of a postcode system in Ireland has been talked about for some time. In 2005, the government said postcodes would be introduced by January of this year, but by the end of 2007 it had become clear plans had stalled.

Retailers hope there will be no repeat of such problems this time.