Irish supermarket chain Superquinn’s new owners have warned that the closure of some of its 20 stores and job losses cannot be ruled out, with each outlet set to be evaluated.
But executive chairman Simon Burke, who fronted Select Retail Holdings, the consortium of Irish property developers which bought the family-owned company for E450m, insisted there was no closure hit list.
“I want to make it very clear
that no store will be closed in order to build apartments,” said Burke as he took over the helm of the business last week. “If we close a store it will be because it is not a successful retail outlet.”
Burke,a former top executive with Richard Branson’s Virgin retail business and ex-chairman of toy chain Hamleys, said he would visit all Superquinn stores in the coming weeks to meet staff. “Superquinn has the best team of people anywhere in the Irish supermarket business, many of whom have a lifetime’s experience of great service.
“My goal is to enable them to deliver a world-class service to customers every day,” he said, admitting that in recent years “service hasn’t been what we’d like it to be”, with difficulties over product availability.
“My first job is to put that right and put Superquinn back on its pedestal,” he added.
The range of food in stores was being expanded and gaps on shelves “dramatically reduced”, said Burke. He also promised to try to cut the cost of everyday groceries.
Superquinn’s market share has slipped to around 8%, but Burke said rebuilding it was not his top priority. “First of all, I have to improve our offer to get back our appeal to customers.”
He plans to announce several senior appointments shortly. One will be deputy chairman, as Eamonn Quinn, son of company founder Senator Fergal Quinn, opted to leave after the takeover. “It was his decision, not ours,” said Burke. “We wish him well.”
French retailer Carrefour saw profit in its home market crash by almost 15% to e770m in the first half of 2005 due to hefty price cutting activity.
Carrefour said the activity had boosted its customer transactions and market share But sales for the period were only up 0.5% at e16.9bn.
Group sales were up 2.6% to e35.4bn while earnings slipped back by 0.9% to e2bn.

Wal-Mart has launched its George clothing label in Argentina and Brazil, increasing the number of countries where it is sold to 10. Baby and teenage lines will be introduced first, followed by men’s and women’s ranges next year.

The German cartel office has cleared the merger of German supermarket chain Edeka with Spar Handels. Edeka revealed in April that it would buy Spar Handels from French retailer ITM.
It has also acquired discounter Netto Süd and a 25% stake in Netto Nord from ITM.
The deals will make Edeka the grocery leader in Germany.
Australian beer and wine giant Foster’s Group has reported a 17% increase in net profit to A$936.1m in full-year results to June 30. It said sales rose to A$3.97bn, boosted by strong beer sales in Australia and revived demand for its wine in North America.

About 8% of the world’s coffee supply - 96,000 tonnes stored in New Orleans - is under threat from rising floodwaters caused by hurricane Katrina in the US. The International Coffee Organisation said the supply would take a year to replace if destroyed, and this would increase coffee prices.

Drinks group Diageo has teamed up with Wal-Mart to sell alcohol in its stores. The retail giant will triple its space for spirits and key Diageo brands will take the top positions on shelf.

Spar International has opened its second store in China - at Weihai. It offers food, non-food, a crèche and restaurant. A third store will open later this month.
Tesco is planning to open a shopping centre in Turkey through its Kipa subsidiary. The centre os located in Canakkale in the north west.

There will be 40% more small format discount stores in North America over the next five years, says Planet Retail.

Hurricane Katrina has forced US supermarket chains to shut stores. Whole Foods Market closed three in Louisiana, while Wal-Mart had to close 123 in the region.
Anthony Garvey
n Profit down
n George grows
n Edeka deal ok
n Foster’s up
n coffee fears
n diageo deal
n Spar spreads
n TURKEY centre
n discount rise
n stores close