EUROSPAR: Q&A with Malachy Hanberry

The ethos of BWG and Eurospar is to create a true partnership between brand owner and retailer, in order to develop a "unifying shoper proposition" providing the highest quality service to customers.

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26 August 2019 | 0

What are the main values that your symbol group channels through its retailers and their stores?

The vision of BWG and Eurospar is to develop true partnerships between brand owner and retailer, working together to develop a network of local family supermarkets with a unifying shopper proposition focused on providing freshness, value, service, availability, rewards and experience. Retail sales growth and profitability growth are the baseline ambitions we set with our group retailers. Eurospar is at the forefront of retail innovation to support independent supermarket retailers in Ireland and has access, through Spar International, to the latest supermarket retailing trends across the globe. Eurospar retailers are integral parts of the local communities they operate in. They hire locally so that Eurospar staff know who local shoppers are and can serve customers more effectively as a result. We are the heart of local communities from our owners to our staff and through the local community-based initiatives we support.

Wholesaling is a key part of the relationship between retailer and symbol group. How does your group maintain and promote this area of the business?

Eurospar supermarkets are serviced by the BWG National Distribution Centre (NDC) in Kilcarbery, Dublin. The NDC, as it is known, incorporates the group’s ambient, fresh and chilled distribution, along with the company’s bonded warehouse, making it one of the biggest facilities of its kind in the country. The NDC operation ensures that Eurospar is part of one of Ireland’s largest retail and wholesale groups. Our NDC operates a very innovative, consolidated ambient, fresh and alcohol delivery service to our Eurospar retailers.

More and more, symbol groups are pivoting towards a broader and more comprehensive fresh offering than ever before. From a symbol group’s perspective, what is the catalyst for this change?

In Eurospar supermarkets, we have a passion for fresh food. Only ultra-fresh foods are offered for sale, underpinned by our ‘Everyday Freshness Guarantee’ whereby we are committed to ensuring that we never disappoint our customers when it comes to freshness. Indeed, we give an assurance to all our customers that we will both replace, and refund the cost of, any product purchased that is deemed not to meet our freshness standards. This promise is one not made lightly. We pride ourselves on standing out from the crowd, on differentiating ourselves from our competition, by ensuring that we provide our customers with a wide array of fresh foods daily that reinforces our ‘Famous for Fresh’ ambition. We also offer great value through our range of fresh products; our pricing and our meal deal options and we implement very high food safety standards and achieve industry awards in this area. Eurospar supermarkets have a focus and expertise when it comes to deli and butchery and we are very proud of our hero department, our bakery. Our scratch bakery is the star performer, with demand for freshly baked breads and confectionery products making us the go-to destination each day of the week.

One of the main concerns among retailers in 2019 is soaring insurance premiums. Where does your symbol group stand on this issue and the burgeoning campaign to reduce these costs?

Everyone in the retail industry is acutely aware that rising personal injury awards are putting significant pressure on the sector. Rising insurance premiums, fraudulent and exaggerated claims and general inefficiencies in our insurance market have become a major competitiveness issue for our retailers in recent years and, with average insurance premium rises of between 5% and 10% a year; it is becoming more and more problematic. Major reform in this area is needed and gardaí must be afforded the authority and resources required to tackle these areas. Working closely with Retail Ireland, BWG is actively advocating for change in this area, on behalf of our group retailers.

Apart from the insurance question, what are the challenges facing the business as you see it, on a nationwide as well as a local level?

Brexit is the big ticket item on everyone’s radar, as it has been for the last three years. It is the dominant challenge for us all. We simply cannot know what the outcome will be until this latest 31 October deadline comes and passes. Other challenges facing our business are around sustainability and, in particular, single use plastic. All Eurospar supermarkets are members of Repak and the fees we pay are used to subsidise the collection and recovery of waste packaging through registered recovery operators across Ireland. That means that your local Eurospar supermarket is helping pay for the domestic green, blue and black bins across Ireland. From a CSR business perspective, it is incumbent on us all to do our bit and this is a responsibility we take very seriously at Eurospar. For example, we no longer sell single use vest plastic bags, all Eurospar stores are moving to energy efficient lighting and a number of Eurospar stores are in the process of installing solar panels at their premises. BWG is also working closely with Repak to see how we can further support the environmental agenda in Ireland, via our retail and distribution networks.

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