Saturday 25 May 2019

Musgrave Group sees online grocery at 8pc of the market

UK-born CEO Chris Martin to step down after a period of transformative growth at SuperValu and Centra owner

Chris Martin, CEO of Musgrave. Photo: David Conachy
Chris Martin, CEO of Musgrave. Photo: David Conachy
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Online shopping will account for around 8pc of an increased grocery market by 2025, but growth beyond that is likely to be slow, according to the outgoing chief executive of Musgrave Group.

Meanwhile the group will continue to expand its physical chain, including opening at least one, and possibly a second, SuperValu this year.

Please log in or register with for free access to this article.

Log In

UK-born executive Chris Martin yesterday announced his plans to retire this year as head of the family-controlled wholesaler and retail group whose brands include SuperValu and Centra.

He has been CEO since 2005. He's overseen an expansion of Musgrave Group's retail operations, in particular buying Superquinn out of receivership in 2011 in a deal which catapulted the business into the top three of Irish grocers.

The group has since bought the La Rousse food service business and upmarket Dublin food retailer Donnybrook Fair, developing its own brands such as coffee business Frank and Honest in a strategy to position itself as a food-focused group of brands across wholesale, retail, plus food service supplying the restaurant trade.

Chris Martin said he's leaving after "a fantastic 14 years".

He plans to step down later this year, once a successor has been identified. Musgrave chairman Nicky Hartery is leading the succession process.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Chris Martin said the group's online business is growing at a rate of 25pc a year - but makes up just 1.5pc of the grocery business currently.

In the UK, where customers shifted online earlier, the market accounts for around 8pc of sales and growth beyond that plateau has been slow, he said.

In Ireland, digital shopping may hit 15pc in Dublin but is not expected to reach that level in the foreseeable future elsewhere.

Musgrave's online sales are mainly through SuperValu - a mix of home delivery and so-called click-and-collect.

Digital sales account for 40pc of Musgrave's business-to-business sales, however.

No decisions have been made on whether a centralised warehouse and logistics operation could be developed to serve the online grocery business, Mr Martin said.

The current digital focus is on developing apps and products for the Musgrave brands, with sales and delivery managed by stores themselves which are a mix of centrally owned and owner-operated outlets, he said.

Musgrave's domestic strategy is focused on growing its physical branches, particularly in the Dublin and Belfast regions in tandem with population growth. It expects to add 1.5 million square feet of retail space by 2025.

Financial results yesterday show turnover up 3.8pc to €3.9bn in 2018 and pre-tax profit of €84.5m.

Irish Independent

Also in Business