- a blog about food and value

Superquinn to axe jobs, close store

Our hearts go out to the workers at Superquinn, which is to axe 400 jobs and close its store in Dundalk as part of a range of cost-cutting measures. According to The Irish Times:

The move, intended to cut €23 million from Superquinn’s cost base, is a response to declining sales, with cost-conscious consumers increasingly switching to German discounters Lidl and Aldi or shopping in Northern Ireland.

Superquinn staff were informed of the job cuts yesterday, with chief executive Simon Burke breaking the news to its 67 workers in Dundalk.

The store will close by the end of February. “We’ve been left with no alternative, sales have declined steadily there for the past 2½ years,” Mr Burke said in relation to Dundalk.

He said sales had declined by up to 25 per cent at the Dundalk shop in recent weeks as the euro strengthened against sterling. “We would be very clear that business was going across the Border.”

Superquinn and its trade unions will engage in a 30-day consultation process on how the restructuring will impact on the 3,300-strong workforce.

“Our bottom line will be to retain as many jobs as possible,” said Mandate assistant general secretary Gerry Light.

It’s interesting that they are the first of the big supermarkets in Ireland to be so publicly hit by the recession.

Does this mean that consumers are turning away from some of the higher-end and luxury brands offered by Superquinn, and opting for the less exclusive brands of Aldi and Lidl? With jobs being lost, should we feel guilty for shopping up North? And, at the risk of doing free market research for them, what do you want to see from our supermarkets?


  1. I had an ‘discussion’ with my Mum over Christmas, where she defended the politicians who said we should not shop up North, saying we should be keeping the money within our own economy. At the time I argued with her that we should buy whatever products whereever we could get them cheaper.

    I’m now beginning to agree with her. If we shop up North we are propping up the British economy, and this is the first time we have seen the direct impact on the Irish people of crossing the boarder – job losses.

    Now, I’m with everyone else in that I want cheap food, but I would hate to see more Irish supermarkets go this way. There is definatley a place for Aldi and Lidl, but also for the more upmarket supermarkets. I love superquin bread and I really feel that they have better quality produce and better customer service, however naieve that makes me.

    Wow, I didn;t mean for that to turn into such an essay, its just something I’ve been thinking about alot recently.

  2. I agree that we should support our own economy whenever possible, but what annoyed me about what the politicians said was that they didn’t match it with a call to retailers to introduce fairer prices. They also don’t seem to understand that the economic reality for a lot of people means that they have to look for good value, and they’re not getting a lot of it down South.

  3. There is a general perception of Superquinn as a high-end brand, but I haven’t shopped there in years because of how much they fall short of this. Superquinn is not a high-end brand. They are a mediocre, worn-down chain of shops which are poorly managed at every level. They don’t pay attention to even the most basic concepts of profitable convenience laid out in books like Why We Buy. Superquinn staff are not losing their jobs because of the recession, they are losing their jobs because of an absolute lack of vision and purpose for the brand.

    It’s not all about price. It’s about solving the customer’s problems. It’s about having all the fresh herbs always in stock so my dinner plans don’t come un-stuck at the last minute. It’s about having reliable, intelligent home delivery. It’s about having a clean store. It’s about having clean shopping baskets which don’t get stuck inside each other and which aren’t filled with previous shoppers’ rubbish. It’s about treating questions and complaints as opportunities to provide excellent service, not as an inconvenience. Why don’t you offer dry cleaning and have a kiosk which burns DVDs for rental in-store so I only have to stop in 1 place, not 3? It’s about helping me save time, eat well and live well. It’s about taking stress away, not creating more. It’s about constantly innovating to make customers’ lives easier and better, not about how to make more money. The money will follow, but it won’t lead.

    Irish retailers will have to change their way of thinking to survive the recession. Complaining about the price difference with the North, taking all the benefits of a free market without accepting the risks, is missing the point.

  4. superquinn was sold in 2005 for 420 million to a group made up primarily of property developers. presumably the company has to service the loan for this.

    while I can see how cross border shopping would particularly damage the Dundalk store, the amount of people from elsewhere in the country going north would not be huge – their main problem is the recession, and competition from Tesco\Dunnes\Lidl\Aldi.

  5. Guys,

    As a 55 year accountant from Dundalk I can tell you that the patriotic thing to do is shop up north. We in the south have to sort out our cost base and we will not do that by in effect subsidising the local supermarkets. These are the facts:
    1. The only extensive analyses of costs both sides of the border indicate that costs can only represent some 5% of the price difference. Answer this – how is Tesco significantly more expensive for branded products but only marginally so for their own brands and
    2. Why do none of the UK chains not produce separate profit figures for the south, what are they hiding
    Finally and this is very much my experience, the customer service in north is far superior. At its most basic, they have far more staff.
    Patriotic shopping in the South is idiotic and will not solve the problem in the long run.