SuperValu set for global expansion as Musgrave eyes export markets

The SuperValu brand could start making an appearance on shop shelves around the world, as Cork-based retail group Musgrave plots a targeted internationalisation of its products.

Musgrave chief executive Chris Martin told the Irish Independent that while its plans are at a very early stage, the group is looking at how it might emulate retailers such as UK-based Waitrose, which sells its products to other retailers around the globe.

“We believe there is a real opportunity, particularly with our own-brand, that we can create export opportunities,” said Mr Martin. “It’s early days. We’re investigating it.”

He cited Waitrose as an example of a retailer that exports branded goods around the world.

Dunnes Stores, for example, has stocked Waitrose products in the past. Waitrose sells its products in about 60 countries.

“The appetite for the sorts of product that we’re developing and working with our suppliers on, is unique,” said Mr Martin, pointing to hundreds of products that have been launched under its own-brand ‘Signature Tastes’ label.

He said SuperValu’s Food Academy initiative – a programme developed in conjunction with Bord Bia and local enterprises offices – has been successful in helping to drive sales at the retailer’s stores.

The programme supports hundreds of small businesses in developing their products and getting them on shelves.

“The opportunity we’re looking at is working with distributors and talking directly with retailers about how we can sell our product in (to their networks),” said Mr Martin. “It plays partly to the Irish diaspora, but more importantly, it places the quality that we are developing (in focus),” he added. He said healthy products developed for SuperValu could present a good opportunity for the retailer.

He added that Musgrave now has an executive examining the potential for exports, but that they have only taken on the task within the past few weeks.

“We’ll wait and see, but it’s about looking at different ways in which we can extend our offer,” the chief executive said.

He said it’s not clear yet though whether the SuperValu name would be used for any exports.

“It’s too early to say. The reality is that you’ve got to make your product work in the local market. But the fact is, you can go into markets. It’s about looking at the catalogue of products, seeing who’s interested, seeing what retailers want, and the products absolutely reinforce the sorts of quality that some of the markets are looking for.”

SuperValu is the country’s biggest grocery retailer, with most of the stores operated by franchisees.

Family-owned Musgrave also owns the Centra and Daybreak brands here.

Musgrave generated revenue of €3.7bn and a pre-tax profit of €52.8m from continuing operations last year.

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