SuperValu sales hit €2.6bn with online shopping boost
SuperValu, the country's biggest grocery retailer, said it generated €2.6bn of sales last year - a record for the group - as online shopping helped to boost its performance.
But the figure is less than 1pc higher than the €2.58bn it recorded in 2014, despite the chain having toppled Tesco last year to become Ireland's biggest grocery retailer. Sales in 2013 were €2.1bn.
The brand, controlled by Cork-based Musgrave, said five stores will join the chain this year, creating 350 jobs. That will involve an investment of €28m, according to Musgrave.
The most recent data from research group Kantar Worldpanel showed that SuperValu retained its number one position in Ireland's grocery market, with a 25pc share in the 12 weeks to January 31. That compared to Tesco's 24.5pc share and 24.1pc for Dunnes Stores.
SuperValu recorded 4.4pc growth in the value of its sales during that period, compared to 5.1pc at Dunnes, and 1.1pc at Tesco. SuperValu, which has 221 stores, said online shopping was a "key sales driver" last year, with the value of sales in the segment rising 32pc in the last six months of the year, year-on-year.
It said that its active online shopping base grew by 23.6pc last year, and that the SuperValu online shopping app had 129pc more downloads last year compared to 2014.
Online shopping has traditionally performed very well for rival Tesco also, particularly in Dublin. Dunnes Stores has also been eyeing a launch of its online grocery service.
The managing director of SuperValu, Martin Kelleher, said that the chain's online customer base accounts for about 2pc to 3pc of overall sales, and he would expect it to stabilise at around the 3pc mark.
"We're not trying to replace shoppers coming into shops - it's an 'and' rather than an 'or'," he said.
Mr Kelleher added that SuperValu is also examining an in-store coffee brand for both takeaway and possibly consumption in-store. He declined to reveal further details until the project has been refined. Last year, Dunnes Stores bought the small Café Sol chain, with plans to roll out in-store cafes at some of its busiest outlets.
Mr Kelleher also added that he's not overly concerned about necessarily retaining the top grocery spot.
"It's a nice outcome, but it's not the be-all and end-all," he said. "It's about being as good as we can be. If you keep doing that, the number one will look after itself. We don't get a beating on the stockmarket if these things change. It's about long-term sustainability."
SuperValu held its national conference in Killarney, Co Kerry, yesterday.