A businessman who owns five supermarkets, including the biggest SuperValu in the country, is to invest nearly €9m upgrading four of them.
Liam Ryan is spending the largest amount, €6.5m, enlarging his SuperValu outlet in Togher, which was the first supermarket he opened 25 years ago on October 1.
Originally from Ballyneety, Co Limerick, Mr Ryan plans to double the size of the shop to around 16,500 sq ft by building an extension onto the adjacent site of the former Ardmanning House.
The extension will feature an underground carpark, surface carpark, and four individual retail units. It will be the culmination of three years of planning.
The 58-year-old is proposing to spend a further €1m upgrading his outlet at Grange after being granted planning permission to build a 3,000 sq ft industrial kitchen at the site which will supply all his Supper Pot range of foods to all his retail outlets.
The store itself will be expanded by 2,500 sq ft and undergo some additional modernisation.
He intends to invest €1m adding extra space to the SuperValu outlet at the Crestfield Shopping Centre in Glanmire, which is the biggest in the country, already boasting a retail area in excess of 30,000 sq ft.
Planning permission has already been granted by the county council for a 3,000 sq ft extension which should be completed by Christmas and will aid with the reorganisation of the outlet’s bakery and confectionery areas.
“We’re also going for planning permission in Glanmire for setting up start-your-own business incubation units with nine hotspot desks,” said Mr Ryan, who lives in Douglas with his wife, Diane. “All going well I hope this will be operational by Easter of next year.”
He recently completed a major upgrade of his supermarket at Kilmallock, Co Limerick, increasing its retail space from 4,500 sq ft to 11,000 sq ft. This cost around €3.5m and he is looking at a further small extension.
He is also investing a further €250,000 in a small Centra he owns in the mid-Cork village of Aherla.
“I currently employ around 550 people on a full- and part-time basis at the supermarkets,” said Mr Ryan. “Over the last 25 years I reckon I’ve given roughly 2,000 people their first jobs.”
He said his plan over the next four years is to consolidate what he has, freely admitting that Lidl and Aldi “made me look at our own standards and improve our game”.
His outlets have won SuperValu store of the year awards, off-licence of the year awards, and a supreme hygiene award.
Another key to his success has been sponsoring local organisations in his areas.
“That included giving out 14 set of GAA kits to 14 different clubs,” said Mr Ryan. “We also support 11 Tidy Towns organisations and six or seven junior academy coaching courses for GAA and rugby clubs. We also help local charities to raise money in our stores through bag-packing.”
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