Strong performance in grocery continues

As Irish grocery retailers continue to deliver strong sales the transition to green and sustainability is gathering pace, says Bank of Ireland head of Retail Sector Owen Clifford.

Grocery retailers continue to deliver a strong performance with the latest Kantar data outlining a sales increase of 9% when compared with the equivalent period in 2019.

Given the continuing presence of the Covid-19 virus, health remains at the forefront of people’s minds with shoppers spending 56% and 36% more on flu-treatments and cough lozenges respectively compared to the same period in 2020 (Kantar Irish grocery market share – 15/11/21).

“The focus on environmental sustainability continues across the sector with robust carbon emission targets being set by leading retailers”

The strong performance of the sector is demonstrated in the Musgrave group financial performance for 2020 with group sales increasing by c€500m to €4.5 billion and profit before tax of €98m being delivered.

Separate to its group sales, the results showed that its retailers in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Spain (which in the majority are independently owned Supervalu and Centra stores), delivered sales of €6.1 billion, an increase of c€700m on the 2019 performance (Sunday Independent – 07/11/2021).

Showcasing the brand through investment

As the ever more discerning Irish consumer seeks excellence in store standards, Irish grocery and convenience retailers recognise that investment is required to retain and attract footfall to their business.

This investment includes the delivery of next generation, best in class stores that showcase new initiatives and offerings from individual brands. In recent months Lidl, Aldi, Tesco, Dunnes, Supervalu and Donnybrook Fair have all announced new store developments/openings nationwide (Shelflife and Checkout October and November 2021).

Recognising leaders in the grocery sector

As lead sponsors of the Shelflife National Grocery management awards, Bank of Ireland were delighted to recognise the outstanding contribution from personnel in the grocery sector during the pandemic.

Karl Fitzgerald from Applegreen Rathcoole was announced as the Supreme Champion for 2021 (Shelflife magazine – 28/10/2021).

Transition to Green

The focus on environmental sustainability continues across the sector with robust carbon emission targets being set by leading retailers. The range of projects or initiatives that retail businesses can undertake are varied and diverse with many having already completed ‘green’ projects or have it as a constant within their capital expenditure or process improvement programmes. The following steps as examples of actions that retail businesses could pursue as they transition to a more environmentally friendly operating model:

  • Lighting: LED, sensor lighting in store rooms etc.
  • Refrigeration: installation of upgraded efficient equipment.
  • Heating: Appropriate thermostats & zoned heating functionality. Installation of solar panels etc.
  • Reduction of Plastic usage: retrofit fruit & veg, bakery, butcher display units, packaging & overall work practices.
  • Installation of electronic price display shelving – reduce paper usage & device run on renewable energy.
  • Installation of e-charging units in car parks.
  • Delivery Fleet: purchase/leasing of energy efficient vehicles
  • Technology: Bespoke software that facilities system improvements/efficiencies re supply-chain management, product sourcing
Owen Clifford
Owen Clifford is head of Retail at Bank of Ireland.