Martin, who took over as chief executive last month from the long-serving Seamus Scally, was speaking as the Cork-based company, which owns the Budgens and Londis fascias in the UK, reported a 20% increase in after-tax profits last year to 151.5m, with turnover up 13% to a record 13.76bn.
Musgrave, he said, was seeking to replicate its successful Irish model in its overseas operations, which last year accounted for 42% of turnover, compared with 37% in 2003.
In Britain, sales at its Budgens and Londis stores totalled £1.5bn. According to Martin, the British operation “will now need
to be supported by a major programme of investment in supply chain and systems, which will take several years”.
On the sale of its Budgens stores to retailers, he said that by the year’s end, 72 of the outlets were franchised with 165 still in Musgrave’s hands.
The group’s 535 Centra and SuperValu stores across the Republic of Ireland recorded a 6.3% rise in sales last year to 12.7bn, despite what Martin described as the “intense competition” from the major supermarket groups.
“We see a move to food on the go and dashboard dining,” he said, “and the focus, particularly in Centra, is on convenience and offers tailored to support changing lifestyles.
“We are a very aggressive company. We see the need to grow the group just to compete with foreign players entering the Irish market, such as Tesco, Aldi and Lidl.”
Sales at the group’s Spanish operation, a mixture of cash & carries, SuperValu and Dialprix stores, grew by 4% during the year, contributing 1168m in sales. Five new SuperValu stores are planned this year.
Meanwhile, in a plea to the Irish government to retain the controversial groceries order, Martin warned: “If we do not have the protection of the ban on below-cost selling, people can move into predatory pricing, outmanoeuvring local retailers, who have invested in their communities.”