UK retailer Waitrose to strengthen Dunnes link
Irish chain will stock more goods from British supermarket giant
HIGH-END UK grocery chain Waitrose is planning to deepen its relationship with Dunnes Stores by supplying the Irish retailer with more products, the Irish Independent has learned.
Dunnes has been selling Waitrose-branded goods in some outlets here since last November.
A spokesman for Waitrose said that the UK multiple, which is part of the John Lewis group, is currently supplying Dunnes with 69 lines of products, ranging from wines, to ambient (products that sit on shelves and don't require refrigeration) to frozen food.
He said that the Waitrose team was currently looking at also supplying Dunnes with a "number of seasonal lines at seasonal times of the year".
The marriage between Dunnes and Waitrose is an unlikely one. Waitrose's main competitor in the UK is Marks & Spencer, with shoppers willing to pay a premium for the chain's goods.
Waitrose, which was named the best supermarket chain in the UK last year by the influential consumer magazine 'Which?', also holds a so-called Royal Warrant from the Queen, having supplied her household for a number of years.
Retail sources expressed surprise that Waitrose is supplying products to Dunnes Stores. They noted that even from a logistics point of view, shipping the goods first to the UK from source, and then on to Ireland does not appear to be cost-effective unless large quantities of goods are being imported.
Also, while Waitrose-branded goods have a strong reputation in their domestic market, Irish consumers would be largely unaware of their perceived quality.
Dunnes Stores, which in its advertising says 'The Difference is We're Irish', has not promoted the fact that it's stocking some Waitrose goods. The British chain uses people such as celebrity chefs Heston Blumenthal and Delia Smith to advertise its food products.
While Dunnes Stores has a handful of outlets in Britain, it doesn't sell food there, just textiles.
In Northern Ireland it has about 24 stores, many of which do sell groceries. Waitrose has already said that it would like to open as many as 20 stores in Northern Ireland, where it does not currently have a presence.
Dunnes has been fighting to maintain market share in Ireland, where Tesco dominates. German discounters Aldi and Lidl have also made significant headway in capturing consumer spending.
Musgrave, which controls the SuperValu and Centra brands, is also likely to pose a further challenge to Dunnes when it eventually gets Superquinn shipshape after acquiring the distressed retailer last year.