Centra supports Irish Youth Foundation’s Christmas CD

This month Centra and the Irish Youth Foundation (IYF) are offering customers the chance to buy some great music and help improve the lives of Ireland’s most disadvantaged children and young people. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of IYF, Centra is selling its ‘Forever Young’ CD. The CD is a collection of cover versions by Irish artists, including Paul Brady and Gavin Glass, Kodaline, Fight Like Apes, Damien Dempsey, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Aslan, Ryan Sheridan, Frances Black, Mary Coughlan, and Ham Sandwich. To support the launch of the CD, the Irish Youth Foundation has asked people who have achieved success in their lives to hold up a picture of themselves as children – watch the video here and see if you recognise anyone!

The CD costs €10 and is on sale in Centra stores nationwide. All funds go directly to the Irish Youth Foundation to help support projects that give children and young people a better start in life. This year IYF will invest €550,000 in children and youth projects.

We’d love your support in purchasing the CD, which would make a great present for family and friends!

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SuperValu: Ireland’s Number 1 Grocery Retailer

SuperValu, Ireland’s leading grocery retailer, grew ahead of the market with +3.7% growth in the latest Kantar Worldpanel report published today, solidifying its position as Ireland’s most popular grocery retailer with 24.7% market share.

Commenting on the latest data, Martin Kelleher, SuperValu Managing Director, said: “We are pleased with our latest performance and would like to thank our customers for their continued loyalty. Our commitment to fresh food leadership is one of the key factors behind our success in the run-up to Christmas. In addition, we are able to differentiate ourselves from the competition with unique selling points like having butchers in every store to provide expert advice, providing locally produced Food Academy products and an unrivalled level of customer service.”

While the market continues to be highly competitive, SuperValu plans to maintain the positive performance reported in the latest Kantar report throughout the month of December as consumers opt for quality fresh Irish food to celebrate Christmas. In the month of December alone, SuperValu is expected to sell over 100,000 turkeys and over 200,000 hams, all of which have been born, bred and reared in Ireland.

“Consumers want to buy the best quality food for their Christmas dinner and entertaining family and friends over the holiday period, so our emphasis on Irish sourcing means that SuperValu is the number one destination for shoppers during the festive period. Our market leading promotional offers also mean that our customers can take advantage of great value in the countdown to Christmas,” Kelleher added.

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Tweets and wine at the first Musgrave MarketPlace Twitter Tasting

We’re always looking at new ways to engage with customers and on Wednesday 18th November Musgrave MarketPlace tried something a little different – a virtual wine tasting experience! The event was hosted by wine consultant Jean Smullen via the @MusgraveMPlaces twitter account to create a fun way of educating the food and drinks media and ‘foodie’ influencers on the variety of wines available at Musgrave MarketPlace.

Taking the form of a virtual office party, journalists and bloggers all received a selection of wines, nibbles and Christmas-themed decorations to enjoy a wine tasting experience from the comfort of their own homes. All via Twitter, Jean Smullen gave out tips and instructions and participants shared pictures and feedback via Musgrave MarketPlace’s Twitter account.

In an evening of fantastic wine, tasty snacks and great (virtual) company, the official hashtage #mmpwine was the top trending hashtag in Ireland that night. We had brilliant feedback from participants, who hopefully now have a better idea of the range of drinks available at Musgrave MarketPlace.

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24 Small Food Producers Graduate from Food Academy Advance

24 small food producers have graduated from the inaugural Food Academy Advance programme. The participation of these 24 small businesses has resulted in €5.3 million in retail sales at SuperValu stores over the past twelve months, helping to support 216 jobs.

Food Academy is a joint programme supported by Bord Bia, the Local Enterprise Network and SuperValu that helps hundreds of small food businesses gain their first retail listings in SuperValu stores. Since 2014, the Food Academy programme has been working with hundreds of small food producers around the country, enabling them to have their products trialled in their local SuperValu stores. These 24 Advance graduates have seen their products grow sustainably across SuperValu stores nationwide.

As SuperValu stores are independently owned and operated, individual retailers are able to source directly from local suppliers on a one-to-one basis, helping small food producers gain their first retail listing and expand their operations on a sustainable basis as part of the Food Academy programme.

Commenting on the announcement, Martin Kelleher, Managing Director of SuperValu, said: These graduates are a real endorsement to the Food Academy initiative, which allows us to bring community based food start-ups to market and provide them with the potential to grow their businesses even further. This in turn provides employment for themselves, members of their community and for some – family members. It is great to nurture the energy and passion of these entrepreneurial producers and harness this into producing a range of products that we, as the number one Irish retailer, are proud to stock on our shelves.”

The 24 participating companies in Food Academy Advance are as follows:

1.     Atlantis Seafoods
2.     Beechlawn Organic Farm
3.     Boutique Bake
4.     Coffee House Lane
5.     Cool Bean Company
6.     DeRoiste Puddings
7.     Everest Granola Products
8.     Improper Butter
9.     Janet’s Just Delicious
10.   Lily’s Tea Shop
11.   Maria Lucia Bakes
12.   Moran’s
13.   Nobo
14.   O’Neills Dry Cure Bacon Co.
15.   Patels
16.   Rafferty’s Fine Foods
17.   Sushi King
18.   The Farmers Table
19.   The Happy Pear Living Foods
20.   The Tipperary Kitchen
21.   Trudies Catering Kitchen
22.   Uncle Aidan’s Flour
23.   Wicklow Rapeseed Oil
24.   Wild About Food

SuperValu serves over 2.6 million customers every week and now has 223 stores nationwide. 75% of everything on SuperValu’s shelves is sourced or produced in Ireland. SuperValu continues to source locally wherever possible and purchases almost €2 billion worth of goods from Irish suppliers which help to sustain 30,000 jobs in the Irish economy.

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SuperValu Statement – Kantar Market Share

Commenting on the latest Kantar market share report, Martin Kelleher, SuperValu Managing Director, said: “We are pleased to be recognised again as the largest grocery retailer in Ireland with 24.6% market share in the latest Kantar research and would like to thank customers for their loyalty. It reflects the strength of our community retail model, where independent retailers in cities and towns across the country are clearly seen to give Irish shoppers what they want.”

“Shoppers continue to vote with their feet due to SuperValu’s commitment to providing the best quality locally-sourced Irish food to our customers; unrivalled expertise from people like our expert butchers and bakers; and support for communities across the country through a variety of charitable causes and initiatives like TidyTowns.”

“The market continues to be highly competitive and we remain focused on offering our customers the best combination of fresh quality food, commitment to Irish suppliers and value as we count down to Christmas.”

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Outstanding Achievement in Business awarded to Hugh Mackeown, Musgrave Group

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Yesterday evening members of the business, government, funders and educational community gathered in Dublin to honour former Managing Director, Chief Executive and Chairman of the Musgrave Group, Hugh Mackeown with an Outstanding Achievement in Business Award. At the dinner, held in partnership by Cork Chamber of Commerce and EY at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel and attended by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D., Hugh was presented with the Outstanding Achievement in Business Award adding his name to the roll call of business leaders that have been honoured by Cork Chamber including Sean O’Driscoll of Glen Dimplex Group; Brian McCarthy of Fexco, Darina Allen, Ballymaloe and Leslie Buckley of INM, Digicel and Saongroup.

Speaking at the event Barrie O’Connell, President of Cork Chamber said “Hugh Mackeown has been the driving force behind the growth and development of the Musgrave Group for over forty years, serving in that time as Managing Director, Chief Executive and Chairman. During his executive career Mr. Mackeown oversaw the introduction and rollout of the iconic SuperValu and Centra brands, initially with 49 stores in 1979 growing to some 1450 stores and seven retail and wholesale brands today, developing it beyond its cash and carry heritage to become the sophisticated retail partnership model that is todays Musgrave Group. The business, under his stewardship, has significant presence in Northern Ireland and Spanish retail sectors and has grown turnover from €7m to in excess of €4.6 billion and supporting some 45,000 jobs. This is a real Cork success story”, added Mr. O’Connell.

John Higgins, Partner Ernst and Young commented. “The importance of family businesses to Ireland’s economy is crucial. Family businesses employ over 50% of all workers in the private sector. Of the more than 200,000 SMEs in Ireland employing around 850,000 people, over 80% are estimated to be family businesses. Dating back to 1876, Musgrave demonstrates the success that home grown Irish businesses can have on the economy. Together with their retail partners they employ over 45,000 people and they continue to go from strength to strength

On behalf of everyone at Musgrave we would like to extend our sincerest congratulations to Hugh on this prestigious occasion.

Read Hugh Mackeown’s full speech below:

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hugh_mackeown10 November 2015

I am really delighted to accept this award, on behalf of both Musgrave and myself.

For me there is a particular pleasure, because in many ways I am not a typical Corkman – I was not born in Cork, not educated in Cork, and did not live fulltime in Cork, apart from 1945 and 46, until I got married and graduated from TCD in 1965.

However two of my grandparents and both my parents were born in Cork, and while growing up that is where we spent most of our holidays. Such a background has made this award especially important to me. The point being, if I am not from Cork I am not from anywhere.

It would be wrong for me to speak only about what was achieved in Musgrave during my time, which was possible only because of what had been achieved already.

When I joined the company it was already 90 years in business, with a first class reputation in Munster and a national tea brand. I would guess that the average age of my audience tonight is probably about 45, which means what happened before 1980 is ancient history. However, I cannot do justice to what was achieved without delving briefly into the past. I hope you will bear with me – history was my degree subject.

You will be aware of the turmoil of the 1st half of the 20th century – first two World Wars and all the disruption they caused, second, and even more traumatic, the war of independence and the civil war. These were very difficult times, when survival and struggle were paramount, not growth and profits.

Recently I read a most interesting and disturbing book called “The year of Disappearances”. It describes what happened in Cork during those years of major conflict, both with England, and between Irishmen. It set me wondering what must life have been like at that time for my grandparents, one side Methodists trying to run Musgrave, and my Mackeown grandfather a Presbyterian minister who worked in Cork all his life. The contents of this book took me by surprise, because in Cork have never seen any sign of sectarian conflict. Indeed my grandfather from Co. Tyrone maintained that the first time ever he encountered true Christianity was on arrival in Cork to take up his ministry. To give just one factual illustration of what must have been a harsh reality, between the census of 1911 and the census of 1926, the non-Catholic population of Cork was cut in half – from 9000 to 4400 – in 15 years!

Next year is the centenary of 1916, and I believe most people, including an audience such as this, recognise that it is now time for open discussion about a very difficult and conflicted period, something that Protestants have been very slow to do.

Perhaps I should make it clear that I am not a religious person, and I am a committed Irish nationalist? If this subject interests you, read the book “The year of Disappearances – political killings in Cork 1921 – 22” by Gerard Murphy, which is most professionally researched. It has to be said that compared with the European massacres of the 20th century anything that happened in Ireland was minimal, to say the least.

As well as wars there were years of economic hardship, something we have experienced again very recently. In the 1930’s the great depression caused serious disruption, not least to Musgrave Brothers, as it was then known. Following the 2nd World War, the 1950’s in Ireland saw stagnation and emigration which drove our population below 3 million.

That brings me up to 1961 when I first worked in Musgrave for several months, in Cornmarket Street, or the coal quay if you prefer. I need to give you some basic facts about the company: it started in 1876 when 2 brothers arrived in Cork from Leitrim and opened a shop in the North Main Street. It became a company in 1894 and went on to develop the Metropole hotel, and several other businesses. Musgrave is now 76% owned by the family, and 24% by employees and former employees. My opportunity for this career resulted from my mother being a Musgrave, and an invitation from her brother jack, the MD, to join the company. The business consisted of ambient food wholesaling – such as tea, sugar, biscuits, canned fruit and veg. Shortly after I started full-time work in 1965 my uncle sent me to a seminar, at which the guru from America made it perfectly clear that wholesaling was on the way out, what we would now call a rust-belt, smoke-stack industry!

There is no denying that he had a point. Trade for us in the 60’s and 70’s, despite our adoption of innovations such as voluntary group trading for independent grocers (such as VG, Mace and Spar) and cash and carry, was extremely difficult. We were growing, but not nearly as fast as the supermarket chains such as Dunnes, Quinnsworth, H. Williams and the rest.

I would need to bring you back to 1980, to be able to give you the clearest idea possible as to the kernel of the Musgrave achievement. At that time, no knowledgeable trade commentator, including ourselves, would have even entertained the idea that by 2015 Musgrave would be the largest food distributor in the country. In fact, we were meant to fade away. Make no mistake, we are now the largest – SuperValu on its own matches Tesco, but to that must be added Centra, Daybreak and Marketplace, which gives us a clear lead, at about 30% of the market.

To the best of my knowledge no traditional wholesaler in any western developed economy has been able to re-invent themselves and achieve anything approaching that. There has been no shortage of overseas competition – from Canada, from Britain, from Germany – and you might wonder how this has looked from a small business in a small city, at the southern edge of an Atlantic Island. To illustrate how it feels imagine if you will a farm somewhere in Co. Cork……… They now know we are a bull, despite having virtually obliterated the people like us in their native countries.

I think another area of important achievement has been our long-term policy towards those who work with us. In times past we were ahead of the unions and our competitors in introducing benefits like holiday pay, sickness pay and pension schemes – items now taken for granted, but not 50 or 60 years ago. Where possible we introduced bonus schemes for productivity, which were of great benefit to employees as well as the company. Another benefit, introduced in the 1980’s, and as far as I know still unique in any major Irish private company, is our share ownership scheme, which is open to all employees. Everyone, including family, has the same class of share. In effect, the family has given away a quarter of the company. I do not think any company can match Musgrave’s record of employment in Cork, going back 140 years. Even in the days of Ford and Dunlop factories in Cork, Musgrave was considered very desirable employment.

Speaking of longevity, another Musgrave achievement is to have lasted and thrived so long as a family business. Most family businesses do not get beyond the 3rd generation. In our existence we had 4 family leaders of the business, which came to an end when I retired as chairman 5 years ago. Our tax system militates strongly against long lasting and substantial family enterprises, to a greater extent than our neighbours in the UK. Many will probably ask “does that matter? It most certainly does matter, particularly when you think of the present political drive to boost our economy by encouraging entrepreneurship amongst smaller undertakings and start-ups. I would suspect the majority of these will be family businesses. In 2003 “business week” magazine conducted an analysis of business performance in the us, which demonstrated that family companies performed over time substantially better than their non-family peers. Returns were 15.6% as against 11.2%, and revenue growth 23.4% pa compared with 10.8%.

Between SuperValu and Centra we have over 600 customers, 95% of them family owned, and most of them in towns and villages in rural areas. Many such rural towns are struggling to maintain viability. Which type of retail outlet is going to do most to help – a family owned SuperValu or Centra outlet, or a foreign chain? The evidence is clear that a local owner is of most benefit to both the local community, and also nationally. Most local owners will reinvest their profits locally, and we see that time and time again, with significant benefit to these under-stress towns. As far as foreign owned chains are concerned, their profits have the advantage of the 12.5% corporation tax, and are then distributed to shareholders outside Ireland, where the rates of personal tax are probably lower because of higher corporation tax. Typically, no local surplus is re-invested locally, and none of the foreign chain’s profit is subject to the high Irish rate of personal taxation, so the overall Irish tax return is 12.5%. The communities are losing and the state is losing, for evermore.

At times I get the impression that politicians and media have an unthinking obsession with overseas investment, to the detriment of Irish-owned enterprises. Of course we need both, only a fool would think otherwise, but in recent plans for recovery it has emerged there is a strong need for Irish-based innovation and developments. To effectively achieve this a shift is needed in the basic assumptions of government and media as to the desired balance of promotion between native and overseas enterprises. As a recent example, what kind of a message does it send to Irish businesses when our minister of finance goes to Shannon to meet Mr. Trump, who plans to invest in an existing golf club? No Musgrave CEO has been met by a politician off a plane, or anything else, in 140 years!

I want to conclude by saying a few words about Musgrave people, and about my own role. My main contributions were in company strategy, in the motivation of everyone I worked with, and by being a committed and reliable presence. In strategy we concentrated on cash and carry and the retail grocery market, eventually evolving our partnership model of SuperValu and Centra as you see them today. In order to make this viable we spread geographically from the south of Ireland into the whole island. Our other Cork-based, peripheral activities were gradually disposed of. I always regarded myself as a professional manager rather than as a family member, and believed strongly in creating the conditions in which my reports had the autonomy to do a good job without me trying to do their job for them. Very often this worked well, and when it did not action was quickly taken. With that kind of treatment people are much more highly motivated than with restrictive supervision. For me the levels of commitment and dedication that existed in Musgrave right through the organisation were a constant inspiration – indeed there were times they kept me going rather than the other way around. And I should say here that this was particularly apparent in Cork, which has always been our headquarters. Together we grew the business from about £7 million in 1965 to just shy of Eur 5 billion in 2007, before everything shifted a gear. In a world that would quickly turn anyone into a cynic, my overall experience of the people I worked with in Musgrave ensured that has not happened to me.

Again I want to thank you, President, and the Cork Chamber for honouring me with this award. We all have to make our own way as individuals and as companies, but it is reassuring to occasionally learn that it’s not happening in a vacuum.

Hugh Mackeown, 10th November 2015


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Recognition for Musgrave Wholesale Partners at NISO/NISG Safety Awards

It’s a sobering statistic, but nationwide 56 people died from injuries in the workplace last year. The National Irish Safety Organisation (NISO) works to help organisations reduce the number of fatalities and injuries by offering education, training and helping to promote a culture of excellence in workplace health and safety. Companies can play a positive role in adopting a proactive approach to health and safety, and each year the NISO/NISG All Ireland Safety Awards recognises excellence in health and safety practices.

We were delighted that Musgrave Wholesale Partners won the ‘Retail/Wholesale’ category at this year’s awards held on 2 October 2015 in Galway. Musgrave Wholesale Partners demonstrated a proactive culture of safety management and Catherine Lambe, Human Resources Director collected the award with Mark Dunne, Health and Safety Manager Wholesale Partners.

The awards were co-presented by Martin O’Halloran, CEO, Health and Safety Authority (HSA); Keith Morrison, CEO, Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI); Pauric Corrigan, President, National Irish Safety Organisation (NISO); Jimmy Fenton, Chairperson, Northern Ireland Safety Group (NISG) and Dermot Carey, Head of Safety Services, Construction Industry Federation (CIF).

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Musgrave’s Peter O’Neill is Ireland’s Best Truck Driver!

Congratulations to Musgrave Retail Partners Ireland (MRPI) employee Peter O’Neill, who recently won the title of ‘Best Truck Driver’ at the 2016 Fleet Transport Awards.

The competition saw hundreds of applicants whittled down to 10 for a place in the final. In a gruelling finale covering driving theory, eco-driving, manoeuvring and load-securing testing, Peter came top, cheered on by his friends and family. Peter was presented his prize last month at the 9th annual Fleet Transport Awards Gala Dinner in Dublin.

Peter is a valuable member of the Musgrave team and has worked for the group for the past 18 years. Covering the Southern half of Ireland, he is responsible for delivering chilled food to all SuperValu and Centra stores as well as back loads from producers.

See the full list of winners at the Awards here

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Food Academy wins marketing award at National Checkout FMCG Awards

Pictured from L-R: Ciara Humphries, Joyce Hosford and Ken O’Connor from MRPI celebrate as they collect the award for Best Integrated Campaign at the National Checkout FMCG awards from award sponsor

There are so many reasons why “we believe in local” at SuperValu. Local produce tastes better, is more sustainable and supports local businesses which in turn boosts the local economy.

That’s why we created the Food Academy programme with Bord Bia and the Local Enterprise Office Network. It’s about working with and supporting local food start-ups, giving advice on all aspects of the food business and securing valuable space on supermarket shelves. Food Academy currently supports over 200 small businesses in Ireland, helping give small producers a big chance.

So we were thrilled to get recognition at at the National Checkout FMCG Awards recently. SuperValu won ‘Best Integrated Marketing Campaign’ for its Food Academy campaign, beating tough competition from the likes of Lidl, Carlsberg and Britvic. Judges commented: “SuperValu’s Food Academy has been one of the real success stories of Irish retail over the past year – with a widespread multi-platform campaign supported by in-store activity right across the group’s store estate. Since launch, the range has generated a 40% increase in sales for participating suppliers.”

Find out more about Food Academy and the businesses we’re supporting by visiting our Food Academy page.

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SuperValu accounts for €2 million in annual Irish craft beer sales

Brú Brewery Secures €200,000 Contract With SuperValu And Launches Exclusive New Gluten Free Craft Lager

SuperValu, the leading Irish grocery retailer, has announced that it contributes €2 million in sales to the Irish craft beer market each year. SuperValu also announced details of a €200,000 contract with Brú Brewery, which includes the exclusive rights for the Irish microbrewery’s new 500ml format gluten free lager that will be available in-store from November. The deal will enable the brewery to create three jobs.

Since Brú Brewery started trading with SuperValu in September 2013, the Irish microbrewer has doubled the amount of cases it supplies the grocery retailer each year. The company originally started in 2013 with two staff and now employs eight staff. It will now add three additional staff before the end of the year to meet growing demand. The latest contract comes after the Irish craft beer brewing company won three awards at the 2015 World Beer Awards.

The Irish craft beer market has grown rapidly over the past number of years due to consumers increasingly opting for premium beer brands. Over the past year alone over 400 new beers have been launched in Ireland. As part of its support for Irish suppliers, SuperValu identified the trend early and has supported a range of Irish microbreweries by stocking their brands in-store. As a result, SuperValu now holds 20% share of the Irish craft beer market and is outperforming the market, particularly in the ale category with a 66% year-on-year increase in sales.

Commenting on the announcement, Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food, Simon Coveney TD, said: “Brú Brewery’s continued success reflects the huge potential of Ireland’s craft beer sector. Beyond the jobs created directly by Irish microbreweries, there are also additional knock-on benefits for the local economy and for farm families who supply locally sourced ingredients to companies like Brú Brewery. By giving Irish microbrewers like Brú Brewery the opportunity to grow sustainably, SuperValu is helping the Irish craft beer sector to build its reputation both domestically and abroad.

Martin Kelleher, Managing Director of SuperValu, added: “We source Irish wherever possible, which equates to an annual contribution of almost €2 billion to the economy. We’re delighted to support this emerging sector and help Irish microbreweries grow, particularly as we are able to offer them the opportunity to supply to individual stores given our local ownership structure. That’s why we support over 2,200 Irish suppliers, which is over four times more than any of the international retailers, putting more back into the local economy and creating jobs like the three new positions at Brú Brewery

David O’Hare, co-founder of Brú Brewery, said: “We are delighted that our partnership with SuperValu continues to grow. They have been fantastic to work with over the past two years and it is great that we can create three new jobs as a result of this deal. SuperValu is the biggest supporter of the Irish craft beer market amongst the grocery retailer and their support is enabling us and other microbreweries to thrive. Today’s milestone reflects the hard work of everyone on our team and we plan on going from strength to strength into 2016.

SuperValu serves over 2.6 million customers every week and has 223 stores nationwide. 75% of everything on SuperValu’s shelves is sourced or produced in Ireland. SuperValu continues to source locally wherever possible and purchases almost €2 billion worth of goods from Irish suppliers, which helps sustain 30,000 jobs in the Irish economy.

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