John McDonald outlines why the Competition Authority needs to realise there are livelihoods at stake in the Musgrave-Superquinn deal and fast-track it forwards
Sep 12 2011
It has been widely reported in the national media, that a decision on the proposed Superquinn acquisition by Musgrave has been delayed after the Competition Authority wrote to both parties requesting further information. What has not been reported by the national media is the knock on effect of the authority’s action.
That an action by the Competition Authority which might delay the completion of the acquisition, will have implications for all parties involved and the wider economy, really does seem to have gone unnoticed. As usual, in the case of state interference in the private economy, all of these implications are negative.
As certain suppliers fight for the survival of their companies in the face of unpaid, uninsured debts from Superquinn, any payout from the proposed Musgrave fund must seem to be a long way off in the future. Not surprisingly, the compensation fund for suppliers is contingent on the merger going through. Any delay to the process will delay the payouts, and could cost these companies and the economy dearly.
Musgrave is not currently in the multiple supermarket business. They are primarily a wholesale supplier to entrepreneurial retailers who actively trade their own shops which, in most cases, are independent and privately owned, sharing a common supplier. Superquinn on the other hand is a centrally controlled multiple supermarket operator. The acquisition of Superquinn is a shot in the arm for the trade, and keeps a small but important part of the large multiple group business firmly within Irish control.
Let’s hope that the Competition Authority realises that they have jobs, livelihoods and the future of a key part of the Irish retail landscape in their hands. Rule quickly, let the deal go through and let’s get on with business. (For more analysis on Superquinn, see page 18).
Thirty years of charity
As we move into the autumn, let’s not forget the hugely important work of the IGBF, which was set up 30 years ago in 1981. The objective of the fund is to “provide financial relief for necessitous persons who are or have been engaged in the grocery trade. This includes retail grocers, wholesalers, manufacturers and suppliers to the trade.
In 2010 the fund assisted 300 families with grants including death benefits, totalling €710,000. If you think that this is a massive amount of money, imagine what the demands are like on the fund this year.
Huge credit is due to the officers of the society and the seven regional chairmen who put so much voluntary work into the charity. They deserve our support. Let’s hope that even in these tough times, the trade will continue to recognise the importance of the IGBF and turn out in great numbers to support the events that put the money into the fund.
The IGBF annual charity ball takes place at the Burlington Hotel on 15 October and the Christmas lunch is at the same venue on 25 November.