Tuesday 12 December 2017

Behind the story: Family-owned grocers squeeze giant retailer

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

TESCO remains Ireland's biggest grocery retailer but for how long?

According to most recent figures from research group Kantar Worldpanel, the multiple saw its share of the Irish market fall 6pc to 26.5pc in the 12 weeks to November 11.

Dunnes increased its share by 2.3pc to 23.6pc, while Musgrave-controlled SuperValu remained flat at 19.4pc.

But the German discounters, Aldi and Lidl, continue to scare their rivals. Between them, they have a 13.7pc share of the grocery market here, with Aldi on 7.4pc and Lidl on 6.9pc.

On the face of it, it would be natural to assume that the family-controlled retailers – all of the above are with the exception of Tesco – are stealing a march on the global goliath.

Not necessarily so, say industry sources. They point out that while Dunnes' market share has been rising, it's effectively buying that market share by delivering generous vouchers to consumers, especially in the run-up to Christmas. That's estimated to be costing Dunnes tens of millions of euro. So while it certainly gets a short-term boost to customer numbers, the big question is how many of them will remain loyal in the long-term.

And the answer to that may already be clear. Since the country went into an economic tailspin, shoppers have become promiscuous. By and large, they're willing to shop at a number of different chains in order to capitalise on deals and make their money go further.

EXPERTS

The big beneficiaries of that change in attitude have been Lidl and Aldi. What's more, industry experts wonder if the pair actually have much more market share in Ireland than the Kantar figures might suggest. Dunnes doesn't supply sales figures to Kantar, for instance, so the research group is reliant on basing its market share estimate on the sales of the retailer's main suppliers.

Some retail insiders reckon that Aldi and Lidl could have closer to a 20pc combined share of the Irish market, meaning Tesco, Dunnes and SuperValu are under even more pressure than the figures might suggest.

A sharp fall in like-for-like sales at Tesco's Irish arm over Christmas would surely get management sweating more than they probably already are.

Irish Independent

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