Let’s drink to National Dairy Week!

As readers of our news pages will have noticed, SuperValu is a National Dairy Council (NDC) partner for National Dairy Week, which is under way right now and until the fourth of May.

This NDC initiative is not just a way of promoting the importance of dairy products to nutrition and growth, important though that is. It’s also a useful reminder, at a time when food origins are under scrutiny more than ever before, of the NDC’s own role in approving the quality and guaranteeing the provenance of dairy products (see http://www.ndc.ie/about for more). These products naturally include milk and, notably SuperValu’s Own Brand milk, which is NDC approved.

Obviously this partnership is a great honour for SuperValu and a boost for its own brand strategy as well as its support for Irish-made or sourced products. And there’s a lot for SuperValu to be proud of in its market-leading initiatives in this area. But we and our partners are entirely aware that much of what we do is following public sentiment as much as blazing a trail. An economic downturn has focused many Irish minds on who makes what and where as much as what it costs; after all, local jobs are in the balance. But even where local suppliers are concerned, the need for guarantees of quality is still at the forefront of careful shoppers’ minds.

So the National Dairy Week partnership between retail and the NDC of which SuperValu is part, is a multi-faceted one — or so we like to think. It shows how, at their best, private and public strategies together can inform, and be informed by, the public about healthy food, support for local industry and the promotion of quality. And we’re sure milk fans will drink to that!

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Musgrave Group announces sales of €4.9 billion and profit before tax of €72 million

Musgrave Group, partner to entrepreneurial retailers across Ireland, the UK and Spain today announced its financial results for the year ended 31 December 2012.

The Group reported sales of €4.9 billion, up 11% on the previous year, delivering a profit before tax of €72 million, an increase of 3%.  Total retail sales, which is the combined turnover of Musgrave’s retail brands, was €7 billion, up 9% on 2011.  Net debt was reduced by 24% to €143 million with net assets increasing to €462 million.

Commenting on the results, Chris Martin, Musgrave Group chief executive, said: “2012 was another year of challenging economic circumstances with continued austerity budgets, which has further cemented the changed mindset of consumers, who remain focused on spending less.  Against this backdrop, we delivered a good financial performance.”

“This was achieved through our ‘Winning in the New World’ strategy, which saw us further sharpen our offer to consumers, leverage our scale and improve operations across the Group.  This is enabling us to focus on our brands and maintain our status as the leading partner to entrepreneurial retailers.  In 2012 we reduced our costs through simplification and re-organisation.  As a result we have been able to deliver further value to the consumer and support our retail partners.” 

“In 2013 as we enter the second year of our strategy, we are seeing our sales improve in Ireland as the economy begins to stabilise whereas we are tackling the challenges presented in the UK and Spain where those economies are weakening.  Our focus in all three markets will be on strengthening our retail brands and exploring opportunities to take our brands further and to build on our growth agenda.  In doing so, we will continue to deliver sustainable profits for our retail partners and our own business, whilst offering outstanding value for consumers.”

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Centra Launches Bright New Own Brand Range of 900 Products

Centra, which has been leading the convenience sector for the past number of years, is now about to shake the market once again, with the biggest product launch in its 34 year history. Earlier today, Centra officially launched its bright new own brand range of over 900 products, across its 460 store network, representing an €8 million investment for the brand.

Martin Kelleher, Managing Director, Centra said, “A launch of this size and depth is unprecedented in this market, but it is really needed. People are shopping more frequently and more local than ever before, in order to manage waste and travel expenses. Centra’s success, even in these difficult times, is proof of this. Consumers are turning to own label products to maintain, or in some cases reduce their weekly grocery spend, and as ever we want to deliver even more for our shoppers, so today we are launching 900 new Own Brand products that are up to a 1/3 less than the brand equivalent. It is really set to shake up the convenience shopping sector.”

The Centra Own Brand range has been independently quality tested versus well-known brands, to ensure the range is the same as or better than the equivalent brand. Centra has a great track record for delivering quality Own Brand produce, in fact 13 lines from the existing range have already won gold stars at the Great Taste Awards, including Centra’s Darfresh Striploin Steak, Goats Cheese and Organic Smoked Salmon. And the good news keeps on coming – the range is predominately Irish, with 110 of the 150 suppliers being Irish.

The extensive product range is innovative too, with convenient options including fruit pots, granola yogurt pots, steamed veg packs and a new pizza range. Other lines help consumers grab the very things they need, at a great price and guaranteed quality such as fruity bites for children’s lunch boxes, organic fruit pouches as part of the brand new baby range, dishwasher tablets and pet food in hassle free pouches.

The new packaging has a distinctive design developed to reflect Centra’s personality and bright brand essence. Innovations include a knitting design on the inner carton of the tea bag packaging and QR codes on certain packs for recipe ideas. Where possible, GDA is clearly displayed to help consumers understand nutritional value of produce, as well as cooking times on packaging, along with calorie and 1 of your 5 a day detail.

Centra’s new Own Brand range is available now in over 460 participating Centra stores nationwide. Every week Centra serves over three million customers and employs almost 10,000 people. Centra continues to support Ireland by using Irish suppliers and local communities. In 2012, Centra purchased over €1bn in Irish goods. Centra retailers contributed €2.1m to local community organisations in 2012. 

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It’s good to be aware

Fun and the serious business of raising money for worthy causes are always a winning combination. In this case, it’s time to wear strange, whacky or fun shoes for a day. To what purpose? Well, walking of course. At least that’s the advice of the campaign we’ll be raising funds for: St Patrick’s Hospital’s Walk in My Shoes. It’s a campaign that aims to raise not just money but awareness for mental health.

And speaking of awareness, what is the connection between St Patrick’s and the author of Gulliver’s Travels? It’s that Jonathan Swift, Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral founded St. Patrick’s Hospital over 260 years ago, because he recognised that people with mental illness needed a specialist service to provide care, treatment and a voice. And today that hospital is Ireland’s largest, independent, not-for-profit mental health service.

That voice is still needed today. This is a cause where awareness is as important as funds. That’s something that we have come to realise applies to a number of causes we help: many of those behind them would like their work to be understood as much as they would like funds to be raised. And we’re delighted to help — and to ask people not just to get involved but to find out more. And you can — at St Patrick’s Hospital’s website.  

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