Musgrave plans more retail brands

Geoff Percival

The Musgrave Group is planning a number of new in-store retail brands, some of which may also be expanded into standalone ‘high street’ brands at a later date.

The wholesale, retail and foodservice group has enhanced its SuperValu and Centra grocery chains with an in-store coffee shop model called Frank and Honest. On the back of a solid set of annual results, Musgrave chief executive Chris Martin said plans are afoot for similar offerings serving the likes of pizza and salads.

He said there may be the opportunity to take some of the existing and new brands out of store, as standalone entities, in the long-term. Outside of Musgrave’s grocery chains — which also include Daybreak and Mace in the North — only its Chipmonger chip shop chain acts as a standalone, with it set to grow to around 30 outlets by the end of this year.

Musgrave grew group pre-tax profits by 9% last year to €80m, but only saw 0.3% revenue growth — to €3.7bn — due to 12 closures across the Centra and SuperValu chains. Net cash, at year-end, amounted to €71m.

“We have delivered a strong financial performance, reporting a third consecutive year of profit growth with sales also performing well despite ongoing food deflation,” Mr Martin said.

“[Our] financial strength means we can continue to explore opportunities through acquisitions, exports and by developing new brands, he said

Musgrave boosted its foodservice division with the purchase of high-end restaurant provider LaRousse from Aryzta earlier this year. Mr Martin said the group will continue to look at opportunities “as they arise” but said “nothing is on the agenda” acquisition wise.

As much as 50% of Musgrave’s planned investment, for this year, will go on enhancing its services to online shoppers, with spend also going on opening new SuperValu and Centra stores.

Mr Martin said the group has seen further sales growth since the turn of the year and anticipates a fourth consecutive year of profit growth.

He said the business is planning for “all eventualities” regarding Brexit, including looking at sourcing more goods directly from continental Europe.

“There is Brexit-related uncertainty with the potential to slow growth in the food and grocery sector. We are working to ensure that our business is prepared for this environment, as well as providing support for our independent retail partners.”

Mr Martin also disregarded any additional competition that may enter the Irish market if the proposed merger of UK supermarket giants Sainsbury and Asda goes ahead.


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