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Musgrave-owned Centra hits €1.7bn sales high

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Pictured at Centra's annual conference at the Great Southern Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry are Bernard Lynch, Centra Council Chair, Dan Curtin, Centra Sales Director and Martin Kelleher, Managing Director, Centra.

Pictured at Centra's annual conference at the Great Southern Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry are Bernard Lynch, Centra Council Chair, Dan Curtin, Centra Sales Director and Martin Kelleher, Managing Director, Centra.

Pictured at Centra's annual conference at the Great Southern Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry are Bernard Lynch, Centra Council Chair, Dan Curtin, Centra Sales Director and Martin Kelleher, Managing Director, Centra.

Sales across the Centra group hit a record €1.7bn last year, boosted by an increasing shift to food-to-go, including the roll-out of Frank & Honest coffee and new vegan options.

The Musgrave-owned Centra brand's 473 shops are mainly owner-operated franchises.

Franchisees are expected to invest around €27m this year into their outlets, with 20 new stores expected to open, according to Martin Kelleher, managing director of Centra.

The new shops will create around 480 jobs.

Sales across the Centra 'system' were up 4pc last year to €1.7bn.

Hot food-to-go sales were up 13pc.

The increase in sales reflects increased demand for a healthy food-to-go offering, including new vegan and vegetarian options and pre-prepared evening meals, Mr Kelleher said.

Owners have increased investment in their physical outlets in line with a 2016 brand strategy, he said.

Most new stores and an increasing number of established outlets now have a sit-down area, and many have Frank & Honest-branded coffee counter and Moo'd-branded ice-cream counter, he said.

The Centra brand is supplied via the Musgrave wholesale business, and last year the business stockpiled twice to ensure continuity of supply in the event of a crash-out Brexit.

Extra warehousing and other action to protect supply lines in March and October cost "hundreds of thousands of euro" which proved unnecessary in the end, Mr Kelleher said, but was warranted to avert the real risk of empty shelves.

Further Brexit costs are expected this year, he said.

Around 1,000 delegates are attending Centra's annual conference at the Great Southern Hotel in Killarney, Co Kerry, this week.

Irish Independent