Business Choice

Sunday 26 February 2017

Price Check: Do you get the best deals at Dealz?

It is the discount chain that has taken Ireland by storm. Deirdre Reynolds checks prices and finds size really matters

Deirdre Reynolds outside a branch of Dealz. Photo: Arthur Carron
Deirdre Reynolds outside a branch of Dealz. Photo: Arthur Carron

When it comes to grocery shopping, I'll admit to being a bit of a label head. As a self-fancied foodie, my weekly shop is more likely to take place in a farmer's market than a supermarket, while Jamie Oliver and Paul Newman are just two of the celebrities who've found their way into my cupboards.

Don't get me wrong: as a card-carrying member of Generation Screwed, my shopping habits have far more to do with circumstance than extravagance.

Flogging over 4,000 items from breakfast cereal to ironing board covers, one thing Dealz isn't short on is choice.

Nonetheless, when I was asked to put the high street mega-chain to the test, my first reaction was: 'Dealz does groceries?'

As Poundland in the UK, the penny-pincher's heaven is probably most famous for non-essentials such as hen party accessories.

Since launching in Ireland with just two outlets four years ago however, the latter-day pound shop has fast become a serious purveyor of everyday provisions like bread and milk too.

Now boasting more than 40 stores throughout the land including 12 in Dublin, three in Cork and two in Galway, the British discount retailer doesn't disclose its exact figures for Ireland.

Given that it claims to serve around 300,000 customers here per week though, and with the average basket checking out at €6.50, annual turnover for the company's Irish operations is thought to be in the region of €100 million.

Or as chief executive Jim McCarthy, whose grandparents came from Cork and whose son Sean plays for rugby for Leinster, recently put it: "It performs very strongly. We're well-placed to grow profitably."

Business was certainly booming when I rolled up to the Ilac Centre store in Dublin's city centre late one Friday evening.

But how does Dealz stack up against supermarket giants like Tesco when it comes to the weekly grocery shop?

Armed with a €20 budget, shopping list and a wheelie basket, I set out to find out.

Bound towards the boring stuff like bread and beans, my first challenge was to resist the lure of those pesky Minions.

While Brown Thomas last month trumpeted the launch of its Christmas Shop, across the city, its polar opposite is also quietly preparing for the festive onslaught with novelty advent calendars and glittery greeting cards up for grabs.

And with (almost) everything going for €1.49, it took the steely resolve of an Irish Mammy not to throw a roll of wrapping paper into the basket as well, 'just in case'.

For others, it's the sight of a jumbo 170g Toblerone for under €1.50 that's the ultimate test of willpower at the checkout.

It's one of the brand's best-selling products here - and presumably a big, triangular-shaped part of the reason why we spend about 50 per cent more per transaction than our Poundland counterparts across the pond.

"The Dealz shops tend to serve fewer customers but that's more than compensated for by the higher average transaction value," McCarthy explains. "I think it's because the Irish consumer has been used to paying what we would describe as the top end of dizzy prices.

"I think the value differential in Ireland is more profound than it is in the UK."

Having gotten so used to dropping a tenner every time I so much as thought about going to the supermarket in recent years, indeed I was pleasantly surprised to find a box of 40 Lyons Original Blend Teabags for the signature €1.49 price point in the Northside store - and 240 of them for just €6, saving almost €3.

Half a minute away, at Tesco Parnell Street, an 80 pack of exactly the same tea cost €3.19 - 21 cents more than two boxes of 40 at Dealz.

But the groceries giant also had a box of 160 Lyons Original Blend slashed from the usual price of €6.29 to €3.14 - which at 78 cent for 40 teabags technically works out far cheaper than its cut-cost neighbours.

When it comes to getting a good deal at Dealz, size undoubtedly matters.

Whether you're a solo dweller, like me, and fancy nabbing ten single-serve Maxwell House sachets, or stocking up for a zombie apocalypse, and might find six 500ml bottles of Cristaline water more useful, one of the main reasons for the cult store's success is clever sizing.

At €1.49, a 250g box of Kellogg's Corn Flakes might seem like a real steal; with a 500g box of the nation's favourite breakfast cereal retailing for €2.85 at the nearby Tesco however, the embattled British supermarket is actually 13 cents cheaper in the long run.

Conversely, doing your laundry is cheaper at Dealz, where a 325g container of Daz washing powder set me back - you've guessed it - €1.49, compared to €7.81 for 1.43kg at Tesco. That's around 5 cents more expensive per wash and €1.25 more expensive overall.

Either way, one thing is for sure: Dealz takes its €1.49 price promise very seriously.

Scanning a triple pack of Batchelors Baked Beans through the till, the cashier warned me that the item would in fact cost €2 - 50 cent more than most of the other items in my basket.

It's a formula that appears to have made its competitors take notice; several items on my shopping list just happened to be on special offer at Tesco - costing exactly the same as Dealz.

Back at the Ilac Centre, parting with €15.92 for a bag bulging with all ten items on my list, I wasn't complaining.

Next time though, I'll remember to bring the calculator - or just pick one up for €1.49.

Irish Independent

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