As small retailers in the Irish Republic warn of decimation by the multiples if the groceries order is abolished later this month, convenience store group Gala has adopted a confident approach - promising a €48m investment that will add 40 stores next year to its current total of 200.
The group, owned by independent wholesaler network Storehouse, insists that the investment in new greenfield stores and franchise-run outlets will go ahead, even if the government opts to scrap the order banning below-cost selling. “While we hope the order will be retained, we can’t let it dictate what happens to our business,” said Gala chief executive Tom Keogh. He felt that Trade and Enterprise Minister Micheál Martin was preparing to revoke or amend the order.
Meanwhile, the new owners of the Superquinn chain, Select Holdings, are preparing planning applications for the redevelopment of some of its 20-plus stores. Chief executive Simon Burke said it hoped to start work towards the end of next year and to open new outlets from 2007. Asda went a bit upmarket this week as shoppers got a taste of culture - opera singer Katherine Jenkins was at the Cardiff Bay store signing copies of her new album.
Further excitement in the non food aisles at Asda included an appearance by new Countdown frontman Des Lynam and the launch of a two-week toy sale in stores nationwide.
The supermarket is offering 76 top branded toys at half or less of the rsp, including Bratz dolls at £8.78 (rsp: £17.99) and Action Man robots at £3.96 (rsp: £9.99).