Belfast Telegraph

Musgrave profits rise but group expects tough times ahead

The owner of SuperValu and Centra has announced a 3% rise in profits to €72m.

But overall group sales at Cork-based Musgrave were down 3% to almost €4.4bn. Operating profit fell 3.6% to €75.6m.

The privately held company, which is controlled by the Musgrave family, released the figures yesterday as part of its annual report.

Group chief executive Chris Martin warned that he expects the remainder of the year to be tough as the trading environment remains difficult.

Mr Martin said he was pleased with the 2010 performance in light of the "extremely difficult marketplace".

He added: "The consumer is being hit from all directions. In many respects, I wouldn't have thought a year ago that the recession would have unravelled the way it has."

There are 41 Supervalu and 82 Centra outlets in Northern Ireland.

The annual report also revealed that dividends totalling €17.1m were paid last year to the Musgrave family. That's down nearly 10% from the €19.1m they received in 2009 and lower than the €20.2m they were awarded in 2008.

Musgrave, which also owns the Daybreak franchise as well as Budgens, Londis and Mace in Britain and Northern Ireland, had posted a 7% decline in profitability for 2009, while revenues that year slipped 3pc to €4.5bn.

The company also has cash-and-carry and retail operations in Spain.

Turnover last year was down just over 10% compared to the high of nearly €4.9bn reported by Musgrave in 2007.

SuperValu, which has about a 20% share of the multiple retail trade in Ireland, accounted for €2.4bn, or over half of Musgrave sales last year, while Centra accounted for €1.6bn and Londis €1.3bn.

Musgrave also revealed that it charged €16.9m in redundancy and restructuring costs to its books in 2010. Last year it closed a Galway depot with the loss of 140 jobs, while it also reorganised its food service operations.

The Central Statistics Office said yesterday that retail sales in Ireland fell 1.7% year-on-year in volume terms during March, while the volume of sales rose 0.1% month-on-month.