In the papers this week 14 – 20 November

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NCA abandons price comparison website due to lack of cooperation; Consumers will spend €600 million less on groceries; new €3 million SuperValu has officially opened in Loughrea



20 November 2009

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The National Consumer Agency has abandoned its plans for a grocery price comparison website, that would have been regularly updated in conjunction with supermarkets. The Irish Times reports the NCA was forced to concede defeat on this idea, after failing to secure the co-operation of the main retailers. According to NCA chief executive Ann Fitzgerald: "We got plenty of talk but not much action."


Kerry Group is being tipped as a potential buyer of global ingredients group Chr Hansen. Four years ago Kerry lost out against French group PAI Partners. The Irish Independent reports Kerry has enjoyed volume growth of 1.5% overall YTD, with ingredients business sales up 3% and consumer foods dropping back 0.8%.


Consumers will spend €600 million less on groceries and household products in Ireland this year, according to new Nielsen statistics. The Sunday Business Post reports the market analyst found grocery sales had declined by 5.6% over the three months to the end of September.


A new €3 million SuperValu has officially opened in Loughrea, Co Galway, reports Business and Leadership, which aims to reduce greenhouse emissions by 30%. A low-energy heating system instead of air conditioning, and energy-efficient freezers, will be used to accomplish this goal at the new store, which Donal Horgan, MD, SuperValu, has described as a "a milestone in our ongoing energy-reduction programme."


Retailers in Dublin city centre are set to receive a boost in fortunes, following the council’s decision to provide free on-street parking spaces in the heart of the city. A new Dublin City Council scheme is offering 1,380 parking spaces from 2pm every Thursday to Sunday, according to the Herald.


Two hauls of some 12 million cigarettes were seized by Customs this week, worth a combined retail value of €4.8 million. On Monday, between five million and six million Regal brand cigarettes were seized by Customs officers near Dundalk, Co Louth, while approx six million contraband Souvenir brand cigarettes arrived into Dublin Port on a ship from Vietnam on Saturday, reports The Irish Times.


The Irish Independent takes a look at supermarket loyalty cards in its ‘Smart Consumer’ column this week. The paper claims consumers should use cards from all stores, to avoid falling "into the trap of shopping only in one store just to build up extra reward points, at the risk of losing out on better prices elsewhere."


Minister for Food and Horticulture Trevor Sargent has said he is hopeful the organic sector will remain unscathed by the "mowing machine" that is Brian Lenihan’s forthcoming budget. The former Greens leader has claimed the Government will stand by its commitment in the revised Programme for Government, which states 5% of the land area in Ireland will be farmed organically by 2012. The Irish Independent reports he also intends to reopen the Organic Farming Scheme, suspended last July.


Glanbia has said it expects earnings for 2009 to be at the lower end of predictions, as weak consumer sentiment drives competition in the market. The group claimed it had performed "broadly to plan," with adjusted earnings per share for the year expected to be between 30 to 31 cent, the lower end of forecasts. The Irish Times reports Glanbia also expects its dairy segment here to be considerably lower overall than in 2008, and that difficulties in farming would translate into a weaker agribusiness sector.


British chain Boots is aiming to almost double the number of stores it operates in Ireland over the next three years. Opening its latest store on Cork’s Half Moon Street this week, and bringing its tally of stores in the Republic up from 36 three years ago to 55 at present; Boots Ireland director Rhys Iley told The Irish Examiner that while the recession had put back the company’s growth schedule here by about a year and a half, it is still committed to growing to over 100 stores within the next three years.



Greencore, the supplier of more than 100 million ready-meals a year to UK retailers, has agreed to sell its bottled water business to Highland Spring for as much as £17.5 million (€19.6 million). The Irish Independent reports that proceeds from the sale of Greencore Water, which is expected to be completed by 30 April, will be used by the ready meal giant to reduce borrowings. 


The Mayor of Navan, Cllr Joe O’Reilly has spoken out against the repercussions for retailers of the Government’s decision to cut social welfare Christmas bonuses. According to the Meath Chronicle, the councillor has estimated county Meath could lose up to €9 million as a result, and he claims social welfare recipients were among those most likely to stay in the county to shop, as many might not have access to cars.  



Ireland’s average retail vacancy rate currently stands at 14.7%. The Leitrim Observer reports that this is over 2% higher than the UK average rate which stands at 12.5% and is over 1% higher than the Northern Irish figure which is 13.5%. Meanwhile county Leitrim’s vacancy rate is significantly lower than the national average, at 8.6%, while in Longford it stands at 23.4%, Donegal, 17.7%, Sligo, 17.4%, Roscommon, 14.1%, and Cavan at 8.7%.


The UK High Street’s attempts to whip up consumer interest in its festive offerings are examined in The Irish Times. Fiona Walsh writes that the scale of retail collapses will be "nothing like last year." The £2 billion worth of sales that were rung up by Woolworths have been redistributed around its rivals, with supermarkets picking up the slack in toys and entertainment.


The European Stock Market shows William Morrison supermarkets in the UK slid 5.1% after chief executive officer Marc Bolland resigned to join Marks Spencer. However, The Irish Times reports that Cadbury, the British chocolate bar maker approached by Kraft Foods, has added 1.4%.


A Co Cork town is to print its own "currency" to promote the ‘shop local’ principle. Fermoy Credit Union has launched a voucher scheme which can be used in local shops. Pat Morrissey, marketing officer with the credit union, told The Irish Examiner: "The advantages of this are that an employer can give €250 of vouchers to an employee tax-free." Rather than giving vouchers which will likely leave the town however, another key advantage of this local scheme is Fermoy Credit Union will not charge retailers a commission.












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