Superquinn is to delay an all-out assault on the convenience market in the Irish Republic as the supermarket group’s new masters continue to plot a fresh gameplan for the future.
Chief executive Simon Burke, who headed the eight-strong Select Retail Holdings investor consortium that bought the 21-store chain from Irish retail guru Feargal Quinn earlier this year, admitted that a move into franchised stores was possible at some stage in the future (The Grocer, October 1, p14).
But he told The Grocer that a wholesale attack on the c-store sector in the Republic remained a distant prospect, despite the company’s ongoing commitment to its two-store Superquinn Select format at Charlesland and Tyrrellstown.
“We are not aggressively pursuing more of these stores at the moment as I am not convinced we have thought through what we are trying to do. I am not going to carry on willy nilly and create a whole chain. The big challenge for us is to get the big stores rolling again. Filling in with smaller stores can come in later.”
Burke’s comments mark a significant change in direction for the retailer. In April, when Superquinn opened the second Select at Tyrrellstown, it said it had plans to roll out “a number” of the outlets as part of a 120m, 18-month investment.
At the time, then deputy chairman Eamonn Quinn added: “We are very excited about the prospects for growth in this convenience market.”
However, Burke admitted he had a different view, despite Tesco’s plans to add to its five-store Express format in Ireland. “There has been a big rush (into the c-store sector) in Britain, although how profitable such stores are is debatable.”
Burke will concentrate instead on new supermarkets. A “prime development site” in Dublin, already owned by the company, is among a number of plans being mooted.
Meanwhile, rival Musgrave said that the progress of its Centra franchised c-store format in Ireland would continue. It is on track to have 375 stores under the fascia by the end of this year and is predicting a net addition of 25 more next year to take the tally to the 400 mark.
MD Donal Horgan said Centra retailers were on track to break through the 11bn mark in annual sales for the first time.
Simon Mowbray