Over 350 delegates from Londis stores throughout the country, who attended the independent retailers annual conference, heard that despite the recent abolition of the Groceries Order, the convenience market is performing strongly.
“The group’s growth in 2006 in a fiercely competitive marketplace has shown that the consumer is concerned about more than just price,” Stephen O’Riordan, joint chief executive of ADM Londis plc, told.
“A strong service culture, good value for money, high quality product and a focus on responding to changing consumer tastes ensures that the independent sector remains very robust, providing a much needed service to Irish consumers.”
But Mr O’Riordan admitted rising business costs remain a “significant challenge” to the sector and wanted the Government make every effort to address these real causes of inflation.
Londis 2006 financial year started on a very positive note following a 62% growth in company profits in 2005. The group also announced an increase of 30% in its share price to €62.59 per share (2004: €48.15), after its first year as a private plc.
Jim Power, chief economist of Friends First Group, addressed the delegates on “tracking the retail market in Ireland”, where he predicted that “Irish consumer dynamics look favourable for the medium term, but the nature of retail activities will continue to undergo radical changes”.
Mr Power said: “The imperative for our policy makers is to address the seriously escalating cost of doing business in Ireland, rather than focusing on populist policy prescriptions.”
Tara Buckley, director general, RGDATA, the grocery store lobby group, said independent retailers play an extremely important role in ensuring vibrant local communities by providing choice, convenience, diversity and value for consumers.
“However, increasingly aggressive tactics by the largest players mean that independents must be nimble and re-invent themselves regularly to keep their customers loyal,” added Ms Buckley.
ADM Londis employs some 6,000 staff in over 330 stores nationwide.