Musgrave Group has recorded a 1% slip in pre-tax profits to €71m last year.

The symbol group retailer, which owns the Budgens and Londis brands in the UK, reported total sales of €4.5bn, up 1.6% for the year to December 31.

Debt increased from a net cash position of €21m in 2010 to €187m following the acquisition of Irish chain Superquinn last July for €229m.

The Budgens and Londis convenience brands achieved retail sales of €2bn across more than 2,000 stores in 2011.

Musgrave Group chief executive Chris Martin said: “Despite the economic challenges and a consumer that is focused on spending less, we have delivered a good performance with turnover and profit remaining steady for the third consecutive year. 2012 continues to be tough but our brands are performing well, benefiting from customers who want to shop locally for value.

“The past three years have brought profound and permanent change to the grocery sector in each of our markets. Against this backdrop, we initiated a transformation programme to strengthen our brands and to improve the competitiveness of our business.”

Musgrave operates stores in Spain as well as SuperValu, Centra and Daybreak in Ireland.

SuperValu recorded sales of €2bn,Centra €1.4bn while Daybreak and DayToday stores achieved €300m in sales.   

Martin added: The outlook for the group for 2012 remains challenging, especially in Ireland where we expect to see little to no growth in the grocery market. Nonetheless our brands are performing well with positive sales growth in both the Irish and British markets.”

Martin expects the group to achieve €1bn in own brand sales by 2014.