SuperValu on course to replace Tesco as nation’s largest retailer

Superquinn and SuperValu’s combined market share means the two entities now control 25.2pc of the market. 

The newly-merged SuperValu-Superquinn chain is close to toppling Tesco as the country’s top grocery retailer, new figures show. Figures from research group Kantar Worldpanel reveal that in the 12 weeks to February 2, Tesco’s share of Ireland’s multi-billion euro grocery market fell 6.6pc year-on-year to 26pc.

Although Superquinn’s share of the market declined 6.5pc to 5.1pc, combined with SuperValu’s 20.1pc share, it means the two entities control 25.2pc of the market between them. Excluding Superquinn, SuperValu’s share rose 0.7pc in the latest 12-week period.

Cork-based retail group Musgrave, which controls the SuperValu brand, bought Superquinn out of receivership in 2011 for over €200m. It had previously been owned by a group of property investors, who had acquired the chain from the Quinn family.

Last week, Musgrave completed the rebranding of all 24 Superquinn stores as SuperValu outlets. The move instantly put SuperValu ahead of Dunnes Stores in terms of overall market share. The latest Kantar figures show that Dunnes now has a 23.8pc share of the grocery market, greater than SuperValu had on its own, but less than the combined SuperValu-Superquinn business. Dunnes’ share of the market slipped 1.9pc in the latest 12-week period. 

German retailers Aldi and Lidl continued to grab share, with the pair now controlling 13.8pc of the market. Aldi’s share jumped 22.1pc to 7.2pc in the period, while Lidl’s rose 12.4pc to 6.6pc.

Tesco has been under sustained pressure in Ireland for over a year now. It has been fighting its German rivals with pledges to match prices, but well over €400m was wiped from the group’s sales in Ireland last year. Last month, the Irish Independent revealed that Tesco had poached a senior executive from Aldi’s Irish arm to join its ranks.

Mark Thompson, business unit director at Kantar, said that SuperValu had continued to increase its share of the market despite challenging conditions. He said that the chain’s increased prominence “is key”, after the name changeover from Superquinn.

That name change has given SuperValu a credible presence in the Dublin market for the first time ever. Its traditional strength has typically been outside the capital. Last week, SuperValu managing director Martin Kelleher said that he would be pleased to see an Irish company become the grocery retailer “of choice” in the market.

Overall grocery spend in the latest period eased, according to Kantar. The fall in vegetable prices is still a contributing factor in the performance of the grocery market, according to Mr Thomson, with shoppers spending €12 less on fresh vegetables compared to the corresponding period last year.

John Mulligan
Irish Independent
18th February 2014