Centra — the stores chains supplied by Musgrave — which will spend €20m this year as part of an investment to open 20 new stores, said it posted a 3% increase in sales to €1.59bn in 2016.
The investment comes as business group Retail Ireland said supermarkets and convenience stores were one of the few retail outlets to tap “steady growth” over Christmas.
With 450 stores, Centra said its investment is partly driven by changing patterns of demand, adding that consumers were buying less carbonated drinks and were opting for much more salads, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries, as well as bottled water.
“In 2017 we will continue to invest heavily to maintain our position as the leader in healthy convenience, refurbishing over 100 stores, adding 20 new stores to the Centra network and creating 460 new jobs as a result,” said managing director Martin Kelleher.
Meanwhile, Retail Ireland said most retailers reported a “worrying downturn” in Christmas sales, as the drop in the value of sterling against the euro meant people bought online or shopped in the North.
According to its survey, sales at service stations were unchanged in the final quarter of 2016 from a year earlier, though food, coffee and “impulse” purchases at forecourts had surged.
Online sales at British outlets meant sales were “disappointing” for department stores, while computer and electronics performed badly. Due to mild weather, DIY and hardware outlets also struggled, according to the survey.
However, furniture and homeware sales continued to climb, attracting new stores to open in Ireland this year, while price discounting helped boost supermarkets and convenience stores.
“There were disappointing results across the board over the Christmas trading period, with some retail categories coming under particular pressure. Total sales fell by 0.1% when compared with the festive season the previous year,” Retail Ireland director Thomas Burke said.
“A weaker sterling has resulted in shoppers increasingly turning to UK online retailers, with a larger number of consumers also crossing the border to shop.”
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