Irish Spar owner ‘positively cautious’

Irish Spar owner ‘positively cautious’

By Eamon Quinn

The South African Spar retailing group says it is positively cautious about the effects of Brexit for its retailing interests in Ireland and the southwest of England. The Johannesburg-stockmarket-listed group owns 80% of BWG Spar and operates chains in Ireland and England, under its Spar Ireland division.

Its new figures showed the Irish and English operations combined account for about a fifth of the overall 50.9bn rand (€3.1bn) in sales it generated in the six months to the end of September.

In Ireland, BWG supplies Spar and Eurospar outlets, as well as Mace, Londis, and XL stores. Minority stakes in BWG are held by its group chief executive Leo Crawford; group finance director John O’Donnell, and group property director John Clohisey. Their shareholding is likely to pay out many millions. The Spar business in the North is owned separately, by Henderson Wholesale.

SPAR Ireland said “has once again delivered solid euro-denominated results, with all retail brands reporting positive growth”, from its 1,330 stores in Ireland and England, the company said.

“The BWG Group’s growth outlook, still underpinned by Brexit uncertainties, remains positively cautious in both territories where they operate,” the company said. A spokesman for BWG in Ireland said that “all its retail brands recorded positive growth” in the period, citing growth figures for Londis of almost 5%; Mace’s growth of 4.4%, and 4.5% for XL.

The South African group said: “Latest measures indicate that food and non- alcoholic drinks declined 0.2%, while alcohol and tobacco increased by 0.1%”, but that an uplift in consumer spending “in the grocery retail sector remains elusive”.

“The business recorded significant turnover growths in March, not only impacted by the earlier Easter but also driven by the major storm weather that closed down large portions of Ireland and the UK as consumers bought in large quantities of food and beverages,” it said.

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