In the papers this week 31 July – 7 Aug 2009

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85% of Irish consumers now shop at discounters; UK Competition Commission recommends a grocery ombudsman; Wispa makes world's most expensive bar



6 August 2009

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While Tesco holds the spot for the most frequented supermarket, nearly 85% of Irish households visit Lidl and Aldi for their groceries, reports the Sunday Tribune.

The study, by TNS Worldpanel, reveals that it is the first time the German discounters have had such a high position. They are followed by Dunnes at 83.2%, Supervalu at 75.6%, and Superquinn at 50.9%.

Consumers are also shopping more often, up to 59 times in four months, and their bills have fallen as they seek out grocery deals.

In Ireland, Lidl literally replaces Tesco as part of the €600m second phase expansion of Dundrum Town Centre. The Sunday Tribune reports that where Tesco used to be, a new Lidl will move in. Local residents are currently appealing Dundrum’s second phase but the company says that it intends to move forward with the expansion. Lidl’s inclusion in the plan is "in light of the interest and the current economic climate."

In Northern Ireland, a deal between Asda and a butcher shop may lead to 100 new jobs. McGee’s Butchers of Co. Tyrone, reports The Irish Times, will be the new branded meat concession at the Asda in Belfast’s Westwood, and if it succeeds Asda employees will be given the chance to help roll out the McGee’s brand across Northern Ireland. Joe McGee calls it "the best of both worlds" for bringing local trade and service to supermarket convenience.

The North may see even more jobs created thanks to Sainsbury’s, which plans to invest £50m in opening at least two new stores in Derry and Carrickfergus.  According to the Irish Times, the number of new jobs is not certain yet, as one of the stores will be a takeover of a co-op and the current employees will first be offered new jobs.  Sainbury’s has also applied to develop a store in Down.

UK Conservative leader David Cameron pointed to Tesco and Sainsbury’s as ideal models for the government due to their ability to cut costs without damaging service, reports the Financial Times. While some have responded that a retail company cannot be compared to a government, or that Cameron is being risky by touting such a dominant company like Tesco, he maintains that in difficult economic times, "We need some of that thinking in government."

Increasing disputes between retailers and suppliers has caused the UK’s Competition Commission to urge the government to set up an ombudsman, reports The Irish Times. Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, and Aldi supported an ombudsman, but because other retailers did not voluntarily agree to one, the CC must now also set up a new code of practice for grocers, who have been accused by suppliers of ‘bullying’. Any grocer with an annual turnover of £1bn will be subjected to the code of practice, which will require binding agreements with suppliers and preventing changing terms after they’re agreed.

The Independent reports that Irish people are still consuming twice the recommended intake of saturated fat and salt despite food manufacturers’ efforts to cut levels down. FDII director Paul Kelly said the food industry has responded to consumers’ demands for healthier and high quality food.

22,000 Facebook users have brought back another Cadbury classic, with the ‘Bring back Cadbury’s Wispa Gold’ campaign. So delighted, Cadbury is responding with a one-off release of a £961.48, edible gold leaf-plated chocolate bar, available at Selfridges. Reckoned as the world’s most expensive chocolate bar, proceeds from its sale will go to the UK Lowe Syndrome Trust. The Belfast Telegraph reports that a limited edition of Wispa Gold will be available for sale in September.

Finally, The Examiner says: "Farm cuts proposed in the McCarthy Report will lead to 12,300 job losses, a €430 million drop in output and a greater burden on the social welfare budget than the savings made by An Bord Snip"



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