Musgrave Group, which operates the Centra and SuperValu convenience chains in Ireland, has begun a new round of rent negotiations on behalf of its retailers, having already secured "significant" reductions in its Spanish division, according to chief executive Chris Martin.

The negotiations have started as retailers in the Irish Republic warn that 40,000 jobs could be lost over the next year unless rents are cut to take account of the slump in consumer spending.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern has called on landlords to take "a flexible and pragmatic approach" in rent reviews. Retail Excellence Ireland, representing more than 8,000 stores, wants legislation to abolish upward-only rent reviews, facilitate turnover-based rents and provide for a statutory break clause after seven years of a lease.