400 participants take the plunge at the annual Musgrave Triathlon

The Musgrave Triathlon took place in Farran Woods, Cork on Saturday 29th August, with 400 participants taking the plunge in this year’s charity triathlon challenge. The Musgrave Triathlon, which is now in its fourteenth year, has raised over €3.7 million for Irish charities to date.

The fundraising target for the 2015 Musgrave Triathlon is €200,000, with Breakthrough Cancer Research and Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin the beneficiaries of these charitable funds. To support the cause, you can donate online via www.idonate.ie/MusgraveTriathlon. Alternatively SuperValu customers are encouraged to pick up the charity branded trolley key in-store for €2, with net proceeds donated to the fund. 

The event involved an 800m swim, followed by 33km cycle and 10km run. The triathlon participants are made up of staff from Musgrave, SuperValu and Centra stores across Ireland and suppliers. The triathlon is a fun challenge, with the sole purpose of raising as much funds as possible for charity.

Martin Kelleher, Managing Director, Musgrave Retail Partners Ireland said, “We are very proud of the real momentum the Musgrave Triathlon continues to generate each year. More and more people are taking to sport and focusing on health, so it makes sense that we use this trend to help raise monies for these deserving charities.  It is great to see so many participants from Musgrave, together with our retail partners in SuperValu and Centra, taking part and raising funds, which makes a considerable contribution to worthy causes that touch every community across Ireland”.

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A shopping list with a difference

Cheese. Soda bread. Steak. Organic honey. Crème freche. SmokeD salmon. Rashers. Wine. Is this a shopping list? Or a recipe? Not quite. It’s some of the products that won our retail partners at SuperValu an incredible 41 mentions at the recent Great Taste Awards.

If you want to check out the awards themselves go to the great taste awards website but if you want to try the SuperValu foodstuffs highlighted in those awards they can be found among the SuperValu range and Signature Tastes selections you probably already know well, along with a new name — the exclusive Specially Sourced wines range.

Now, we don’t want to go over the top but this is quite a big deal: the Great Taste Awards organised by the Guild of Fine Food is the world’s largest blind tasted food awards. Among more than 400 judges who give their time and tastebuds for the cause of promoting good food are chefs, food critics and farmers, all of whom give a thumbs up (if it’s good enough) to an extraordinarily diverse selection of products from artisan and specialty food producers.

So, while you may be considering rushing out to buy the SuperValu Wheaten Soda Loaf produced by Genesis Crafty, which received an impressive three stars, it’s also worth finding out whether the other products noted, including Gubeen Cheese from the Traditional Cheese Company, Striploin Steak by Kepak Ltd, Organic Honey from Healy’s Honey, Irish Applewood Smoked Salmon from Dunns Seafare Ltd, Thick Cut Unsmoked Rashers from Carty Ltd, and Crème Fraiche from Clona Dairy Products, are in your local SuperValu. Together they would make your fridge and larder look rather impressive when friends pop round for dinner.

So maybe the selection we started with could be a shopping list or a recipe after all, in which case, we should recommend a wine. How about Nugan Estate King Valley Chardonnay — another product that gained the judges’ attention? Enjoy!

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Here’s to Irish wine lovers

There are some of us who can remember a time when the idea of stocking a diverse selection of wines, let alone employing a professional buyer for wines, would have been considered a lost cause on this island. However, that, for most of our readers, is such ancient history that it’s embarrassing to say you were there at the time.

It is therefore with great delight (and a little pride) that we can tell you that our partners at SuperValu were easily able to attract over 120 wine professionals and specially invited SuperValu customers to a tasting event early in August.

It was a summer garden party where guests were invited to sample new wines from the SuperValu Specially Sourced range, a selection of handpicked wines from some of the best vineyards. It was more than just sampling of course, nice though that definitely was. Experts offered insights into winemaking regions, SuperValu offered tips and advice on wine, and the garden offered an appropriately vineyard-like setting for the guests – key figures from the wine writing and selling world, a well as some lucky wine-loving customers who had won a special invite through SuperValu’s social media channels.

Is true that highlighting this event (and the fact that the Specially Sourced Nugan Estate King Valley Chardonnay was recognised  at the recent Great Taste Awards) is a great way of showing how seriously we take wine. We like to think that we have a talented wine buying team that seek out and stock the output of some of the best winemakers around and then bring their wines to you at competitive prices.

On the other hand, that’s the least we can do for a consumer market that continues to grow in size and sophistication. We will keep learning, keep tasting and keep looking for new and exciting winemaking talent from Europe and beyond. And, given the enthuiasm, knowledge and the  expertise of the average wine drinking consumer in Ireland today we’re going to have to!

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MUSGRAVE GROUP ANNOUNCES FINANCIAL RESULTS FOR 2014

Musgrave Group, partner to entrepreneurial retailers across Ireland, the United Kingdom and Spain, today announces its results for the financial year ended 27th December 2014. The Group reported sales of €4.6 billion and operating profit before exceptional items of €66 million*. After exceptional costs of €70 million and property profits of €11 million, the loss for the year after tax is €13 million, compared to a loss of €113 million in 2013. Losses have reduced by €100 million in 2014 and a return to profit is expected in 2015. Cash was well managed, with net cash of €110 million at year end.

Commenting Chris Martin, Musgrave Group Chief Executive said:

In 2014, the investments we have made in our brand development strategy delivered, with SuperValu becoming Ireland’s number one grocery retailer, Centra cementing its position as the country’s leading convenience brand and MarketPlace growing ahead of the market. As part of our Group transformation agenda, which is about positioning the business to deliver long-term sustainable growth, we announced our exit from Great Britain, combined our retail and wholesale businesses in Northern Ireland and integrated the former Superquinn business with SuperValu. With the transformation well progressed and given the strong position of our brands, the business is now on track to return to profit in 2015.

Business Review

Musgrave is now the leading food retailer in Ireland. Through our retail brands SuperValu, Centra and Daybreak, and our wholesale brand Marketplace, Musgrave and its retailers employ over 30,000 people. Our strategy throughout the recessionary years was to invest significantly to build market leading brands that are now making good progress. 

SuperValu recorded retail sales in line with last year of €2.6 billion and now serves over 2.6 million customers every week.  SuperValu is differentiated through its food leadership programme and innovation agenda, commitment to local suppliers with initiatives like Food Academy and by delivering exceptional range and value through quality own brand products and promotions. The integration of Superquinn with SuperValu gave the brand the platform to become Ireland’s largest grocery retailer, securing 25% share of the grocery retail market.

Centra consolidated its position as the number one convenience retailer in the market with growth of 3% and now serves over 3 million customers a week. Centra has benefitted significantly from brand development work and investments that were made throughout the economic downturn. Sales growth was underpinned by investment in an own brand range of 1,300 Irish sourced products, the introduction of an all-day fresh food range and great value offers, all of which differentiated Centra with shoppers.   

MarketPlace is now the number one partner to Ireland’s food service industry. The business had a very strong year, growing sales by 8%. The strong performance follows a focus on brand development work and investment in its offer to foodservice customers and non-affiliated retailers. The acquisition of Allied Foods, which was completed during the year, will support the growth of the business and strengthen its offer in Ireland’s foodservice sector, where it services more than 45,000 hotels, restaurants and hospitality businesses.

In Great Britain, since year end, we have reached agreement with Booker Group plc to sell our GB business. The sale is now subject to the approval of the UK Competition and Markets Authority.

In Northern Ireland, we reorganised our business bringing together our retail and wholesale operations. We are beginning to see the benefits of this new structure with our brands Centra, MarketPlace and SuperValu performing according to plan. We have opened new stake in the ground SuperValu stores in Crossgar and Fintona as we look to invest and develop our brands in the province.

In a tough market our business in Spain performed satisfactorily in 2014. Our brand work, investment and the development of concept stores, is laying the foundations for improved performance in a recovering Spanish economy.

Outlook

Trading conditions remain challenging in 2015 with the grocery market continuing to lag behind the general economic upturn. However with an ever improving Irish economy, we see opportunities for our brands as the grocery market returns to growth. The work that we have undertaken in reorganising the Group means that the business is now more efficient. As a result we are confident that the group is positioned to return to growth in 2015.

Profit and revenue is restated reflecting implementation of Financial Reporting Standard 102

For more information, click on www.musgravegroup.com

*Operating profit of €66 million before amortisation of intangible assets and exceptional items

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Back to school

It’s true that there are a lot of unsung young heroes out there: kids barely out of – or still at – school who selflessly give their time and energy to causes that help others, with little thought of reward.

Well, we’re here put a stop to that – in the nicest way possible. We believe that positive efforts should be recognised and highlighted – not just to reward the schools and students behind them but to show that there are people trying to improve their society and that their efforts are having a positive effect.

Which is why today we’re shining the spotlight on two recent events – both school-related but both celebrating slightly different achievements. However, they are also both welcome reminders that, despite the pressures of work, study and dozens of other everyday challenges, the spirit of volunteering is still very much alive among the younger generation.

It was a few weeks ago that Action Cancer and our friends at Centra NI got together to host their annual Health Action Awards in the rather impressive surroundings of Titanic Belfast. Their aim? To highlight Northern Ireland’s best health promotion projects in nursery, primary and secondary schools and colleges.

You can find out more about the winners and Action Cancer’s Health Action initiative, which is the inspiration for the awards, at www.actioncancer.org, but possibly the most impressive statistic in this news story is that close to 60 schools were recognised at the awards.

Also school-related was the event held at the end of July by Junior Achievement Ireland and Musgrave, an event that recognised volunteers who participated in the Junior Achievement Volunteers programme during the school year 2014/2015.

In total, 18 volunteers inspired and motivated 504 students in 14 local schools this year. How? Well Junior Achievement programmes, as you may know, help to create a culture of enterprise within the education system, giving young people guidance in preparing for the world of work, and helping to train them in communications, managing their money and preparing for interviews, as well as encouraging them to develop more specific maths and science skills.

These aren’t new initiatives. The Health Action Awards have been around since 2003 and almost 500,000 young people have taken part since its launch, while Junior Achievement Ireland (www.jai.ie) has been helping our future workforce since the 1990s.

But these initiatives, and many others like them, don’t exist in a vacuum. They have been supported and developed by quite a lot of schools and schoolkids across the country, all of whom deserve a pat on the back. Which is what Musgrave and its partners, through sponsorship, awards, and indeed this blog, are very happy to offer them all.

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