Profits in the Republic of Ireland’s wholesale and retail grocery sector may be higher than 11.3bn a year, according to the Department of Finance.
It is the first official estimate, as the major supermarkets - Tesco, Dunnes, Superquinn, Aldi and Lidl - do not publish financial details. Now there is renewed pressure for a change in company law to require them to do so - and calls for them to deliver bigger price cuts.
Finance minister Brian Cowen recently told parliament that the 12.5% corporation tax take from the grocery sector in 2003, the latest year for which details are available, was 1164m.
That would put gross profit for the trade at 11.3bn in 2003.
Tesco and Dunnes have repeatedly denied excessive profit-taking at a time when Irish grocery prices are among the highest in the EU.
A parliamentary committee, which found the Irish paid 15% more for groceries than UK shoppers, recommended the Companies Act be amended to require multiples to publish detailed accounts. According to Phil Hogan, whose Fine Gael opposition party has been campaigning against “rip-off Ireland”, the figures reinforce the need for such action.
RGDATA’s chief executive, Tara Buckley, claimed the figures strengthened the case for retaining the groceries order.
The high profits being made by the multiples, she said, proved they could well afford price cuts without resorting to below-cost selling.
Back pain is costing British industry £5bn a year, says retail union Usdaw. Checkout operators are among the most affected, and the union is supporting the Backs 2005 campaign. Steps to prevent back pain include allowing operators to swap between sitting and standing, narrowing belts, and enabling heavy goods to slide over the scanner, rather than be lifted.

More than 60% of retailers say there are not enough police on the streets. Research by business insurer AXA shows that the majority of retailers believe business crime is overlooked by police who are over-stretched and focused on domestic crime.

Research into consumer attitudes to additives will be carried out by Leatherhead Food International. It will explore consumer awareness and understanding of additives and assess the impact on food purchasing.

Personal finance is fast becoming the new battlefield for rival supermarkets. In this year’s annual Your Money Direct Awards, 11 awards went to supermarkets for offering excellent products and high levels of customer service. Tesco claimed the major prize of Best Overall Provider.

Ministers are being urged to establish a series of pilot studies to see whether a plastic bag tax could cut waste and litter. Labour MP Ashok Kumar reckons the time is right to try out a similar scheme to the one that has been adopted by Ireland.

Bacheldre Watermill of Powys has been crowned Supreme Champion at the Waitrose Small Producers Awards for its strong malted blend flour.
back pain action
more police, please
additive factors
give them credit
bag tax probe
flour’s a winner