Gaps starting to appear on Superquinn shelves as suppliers hold back
GAPS have started appearing on Superquinn shelves and suppliers warned yesterday the empty spaces would get bigger if there was a protracted legal battle for control of the supermarket chain.
Vincent Carton of Carton Brothers -- which owns Manor Farm chickens -- said that even though he was set to lose hundreds of thousands of euro under the receivership process, he would prefer to cut his losses than await a drawn-out examinership process.
And he said that some smaller suppliers were already holding back.
"If customers can't get everything they want, they'll just go elsewhere, and Superquinn will be in an even worse situation than it is now," he said.
Most suppliers were realists and knew they had no hope of getting back what was owed to them from before the receivership because of the €275m owed to secured creditors, he said.
"Even with the losses, I would much rather see an Irish buyer taking over and investing in the stores than the prospect of a foreign company coming in," he said.
Bill O'Brien, of Brady Family Meats, which supplies ham and pork products to Superquinn, said there was a real concern consumers would drift away if the uncertainty continued.
"Staff will lose morale and it'll be difficult to keep shelves stocked and that all impacts on consumers," he said.
The outlook was much worse if the Musgrave buyout wasn't completed promptly, he added.
"Superquinn is a nice outlet, it's a great brand and everyone would be very sorry to lose it," he said.
Paul Kelly, of IBEC's food division, said the uncertainty about the situation wasn't good for suppliers.
The Irish Farmers' Association said its members would continue to supply as much as ever because Superquinn was still an important outlet and it would be impossible to find alternatives.
Unions representing Superquinn's 2,800 staff called for the company's immediate sale to the Musgrave group.
"We believe that any continuing confusion or uncertainty surrounding the future ownership of Superquinn at this time will damage the future viability of the company in the eyes of staff, customers, banks and suppliers and may have long-term consequences for employment there," a joint statement from Mandate, SIPTU and the Bakers' Union said.