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Managing director of Allied Foods joins Dunnes

John Casey, the managing director of DCC-owned Allied Foods, has jumped ship to join the board of Dunnes Stores as its distribution director.

Allied Foods is the country's biggest distributor of frozen foods. Its clients include Musgrave, Dunnes, Superquinn, Burger King and Unilever.

The move marks the latest defection to Dunnes Stores of senior figures within the Irish retail and distribution sector.

Last year, Superquinn's second-in-command, James Wilson, left the chain to join Dunnes, while another senior Superquinn executive, Sheena Forde, became head of buying.

Another senior appointment at Dunnes is also expected soon, according to insiders.

Conversely, the most senior non-family director at Dunnes, chief operating officer Andrew Street, who left the chain in 2009, was last year appointed the new chief executive of Superquinn.

Mr Casey has been with Allied Foods for about 14 years.

Allied reported revenues of almost €82m and a pre-tax profit of €3.5m in the year to the end of March 2010.

DCC first invested in Allied in 1989 and had owned over 51pc of the company's share capital since 1998. It paid €14.5m in 2004 to acquire the remainder.

At the time, Mitchel Barry, who founded the company in 1989, initially continued as chairman and chief executive, while Mr Casey was managing director of Allied Logistics. He was soon after appointed group managing director of Allied Foods.

Mr Casey's appointment is being seen by industry insiders as nervousness on the part of Frank Dunne and Margaret Heffernan, who are likely keen to bolster an out-of-date distribution system.

Dunnes Stores has been leagues behind its main competitor, Tesco, in its distribution methodology, lacking a centralised system that would result in cost savings and position it to offer better value to consumers. It also enables stores to stock more products on shelves as less stock has to be held in storerooms.

It would also enable the retailer to offer online shopping, something that Tesco and Superquinn have facilitated in Ireland for a number of years.

Early last year Dunnes began using Clonmel-based logistics firm Flancare for centralised distribution of some major-branded goods.

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Sales at Dunnes reached over €2.5bn in 2009, according to a recent global retail table prepared by consultancy group Deloitte. The firm also ranked Dunnes number 224 in the world's top 250 retailers, up from position 231 in 2008.

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