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Thursday 17 October 2019

'Caring, loving father' - and 'an ebullient businessman'

At home: Feargal Quinn was a family man, with five children and 19 grand-children.
Photo: Martin Maher
At home: Feargal Quinn was a family man, with five children and 19 grand-children. Photo: Martin Maher
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Businessman and former senator Feargal Quinn has been remembered as a "caring father" and "ebullient businessman" following his death.

Mr Quinn passed away aged 82, following a short illness, and is survived by his wife Denise Quinn, their five children and 19 grandchildren.

In a short statement yesterday, the Quinn family said he had passed away peacefully at home in Howth, Co Dublin.

"First and foremost Feargal was a loving and caring husband, father, grandfather, and brother.

"To everyone else who knew him, he was an ebullient businessman, entrepreneur, innovator and former senator," the family said.

He is best known for founding the Superquinn chain, which pioneered new levels of customer service and innovation in the Irish retail sector and which he successfully sold to a consortium of investors for €420m in 2005.

Superquinn was subsequently bought by the Musgrave family's SuperValu chain.

As well as work in the private sector, Mr Quinn was active in the public sector on numerous boards, including as chairman of An Post until 1989.

He was elected to the Senate on the National University of Ireland panel and served as an independent senator from 1993 to 2016, where he was recognised as a strong voice for the national business community.

Mr Quinn was born in Dublin in 1936, into a family with its roots in Newry. Former Labour Party leader and cabinet minister Ruairí Quinn and businessman Lochlann Quinn were cousins.

His father Eamonn established a grocery business Payantake, and later the Red Island holiday resort in Skerries, Co Dublin.

Mr Quinn was educated in Newbridge College, and studied Commerce at University College Dublin.

After working in France in his youth, he founded the Superquinn chain aged just 23 and built it into one of the country's biggest grocery chains.

He carved out a niche with innovations like loyalty cards and self-scanning, coupled with famously high levels of customer service and stand-out products - including in-store bakeries and the famous Superquinn pork sausages that proved so popular the brand has been retained by SuperValu.

In his media work he was an enthusiastic supporter of emerging businesses, including a regular advice column with the Irish Independent and as the presenter of RTÉ's 'Retail Therapy'.

He continued to work for the Irish Independent right up to this week, with his latest column appearing yesterday.

Fionnán Sheahan, editor of the Irish Independent, described Mr Quinn as "a true advocate for the consumer".

"Feargal Quinn's legacy will be his emphasis on putting the needs of the customer front and centre in business decisions.

"His personal approach raised the bar which other retailers followed," Mr Sheahan said.

President Michael D Higgins has spoken about Mr Quinn's commercial and political contributions.

He said: "Feargal was a gifted entrepreneur, whose vision of customer service and innovation transformed the landscape of the retail trade in Ireland over many decades."

His funeral will take place tomorrow at St Fintan's Church in Sutton at 10am.

Irish Independent

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