The Irish Republic is leading the world in convenience retailing, a conference of 240 delegates representing 13 different countries heard yesterday.

Tom Shipsey, chief executive officer of Stonehouse, told attendees at the Global Convenience Benchmarks conference in Dublin, organised by Insight Research, that Ireland's entrepreneurial retailers were driving forward the convenience market.

“We are the benchmark for convenience retailing. The challenge now is to continue pushing forward,” he said.

Leo Crawford, chief executive officer at BWG, added that the main difference between convenience retailing in the UK and Ireland was that Ireland was full of entrepreneurial retailers.

Food to go, juice and smoothie bars and an increased focus on health are giving Irish convenience players higher margins. Unlike UK convenience, the Republic's small retailers are embracing these new areas.

DJ McAllen, sales director of Musgrave Supervalu Centra, was just one retailer saying health and wellbeing was one of the key initiatives for the company in 2006.