JD Hunter supermarket changes hands after a century
A popular Co Armagh supermarket has been sold, ending nearly a century in the ownership of its founding family.
JD Hunter & Co in Markethill has been bought for an undisclosed sum by Spar giant Henderson Group and a Belfast-born entrepreneur who owns five supermarkets in South Africa.
But the name JD Hunter will be kept under Henderson Group and Dermott McConnell, who is returning after nearly four decades in South Africa.
The new owners confirmed that all 175 staff will be kept on.
Hunter's is an institution in rural Co Armagh, where many residents shun the bigger supermarkets in nearby Armagh city or Newry in favour of Hunter's.
Former owners, siblings Alison Strong and Richard Hunter, are in their 60s and are the grandchildren of founder JD Hunter.
They said they would miss the business, but added: "It is a pleasure to be handing over control to Dermott and we are sure he will soon come to have the same passion for the Markethill community as we do. Continued support of local suppliers and produce will be central to his approach.
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"We will miss working in this great community but look forward to supporting the next phase of the JD Hunter and Co story. Our whole family wish Dermott and his wife, Lorna, continued success with the business. Our particular thanks go to staff and work colleagues, past and present, who have contributed massively to our success over the past 99 years."
Mr McConnell, who owns five Pick 'N Pay supermarkets outside Durban, said: "I am honoured to be taking on the JD Hunter name and I very much look forward to building on what local people have come to expect from this store.
"I will bring the best of my experience from owning and operating five similar sized stores just outside Durban in South Africa and I am confident that JD Hunter will continue to grow and prosper with the support of a fantastic store team and the people of Markethill and the surrounding area."
He said he hoped customers would attend a coffee morning in aid of the Cancer Fund for Children at the store on March 23.