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Minister seeks talks over suppliers hit by Superquinn collapse

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster is seeking an urgent meeting over a supermarket acquisition which threatens to leave Northern Ireland companies out of pocket.

About 15 companies in Northern Ireland, owed an estimated £5m after Republic of Ireland supermarket chain Superquinn collapsed earlier this month, fear they may never be paid by the new owners.

Superquinn was bought by convenience retail group Musgrave, securing staff jobs.

However, a freeze imposed on Superquinn's accounts stopped it honouring cheques issued to creditors.

Now Northern Ireland companies fear that they may never be paid.

Farmers and food delivery companies are facing major losses.

Ms Foster said: "I understand that as a result of the acquisition a number of Northern Ireland companies are now unlikely to receive full payment for goods provided over the past 90 days.

"To help minimise any such losses I will urge Musgrave to maintain relationships with Northern Ireland suppliers and further explore the wide range of high quality, award-winning produce available here."

Musgrave already operates a range of successful retail brands, including SuperValu, Centra and Daybreak in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; Budgens and Londis in Great Britain and Dialprix in Spain. The Superquinn acquisition will see Musgrave increase its market share in the Republic of Ireland.

Ms Foster added: "To ensure that our food and drink processing companies can become part of this highly lucrative supply chain, I have requested that Invest Northern Ireland further increases its engagement with the Musgrave Group so that it can fully assist local companies who are seeking to advance trading opportunities across the Musgrave portfolio."

Superquinn went into receivership on Monday, July 18.