Saturday 23 September 2017

Failure of Superquinn leaves its suppliers on brink

Anne-Marie Walsh and Aideen Sheehan

AT least two major Superquinn suppliers are owed more than €1m since the supermarket chain went into receivership.

Other suppliers face seven figure losses, while hundreds more may never recoup outstanding debts of hundreds of thousands of euro.

Paul Kelly, of employer group Food and Drink Industry Ireland, last night said big multinationals were unlikely to be bankrupt by their losses.

But he warned that smaller companies, which supply solely to the retailer, could go to the wall.

Payment for stock is being handled by receivers KPMG. However, sources said stock already sold would not be reimbursed, although there could be some compensation for products that were still on shelves.

"For a lot of the companies, credit insurance cover is non-existent and some only have limited cover," said Mr Kelly.

It is understood the retailer has in the region of 600 suppliers, including many of the big food companies.

Glanbia, Kerry Foods, Nestle and Diageo are believed to supply the chain, while it has a variety of own-brand suppliers, including Pat the Baker, Connacht Gold, Bewley's and Dublin-based Donnellys, which supplies its fruit and vegetables.

Fresh

One supplier of fresh food told the Irish Independent that he would take a hit of hundreds of thousands of euro.

Editor of grocery magazine 'Checkout', John Ruddy, said Superquinn was always a first port of call for small Irish suppliers, and had helped hundreds of small producers get off the ground. "But after falling into receivership, the irony is that it will be Superquinn which may end up putting them out of business," he said.

ISME chief executive Mark Fielding said suppliers were terrified of putting their heads over the parapet to talk publicly about their losses for fear banks or other creditors would get nervous and leap on them for repayment of outstanding monies owed.

Meanwhile, despite concerns for the extensive fish counters and wide range of specialty cheeses, most consumers were relieved at news of the buyout that would keep the Superquinn stores open and trading under the old banner.

A Musgrave spokesperson said the Superquinn brand and product offer would continue despite the sale.

He also confirmed that customers would still benefit from loyalty points collected under the old ownership.

Irish Independent

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