International News - SuperValu invests to hold off Tesco

Irish supermarket chain SuperValu is investing EUR150 million (£100.2 million) in expansion this year to consolidate its position against main rival Tesco.

Parent Musgrave - which is in the running to take over British symbol group Londis - operates 580 stores in Eire under the SuperValu and convenience store Centra banners. Sales last year increased 8 per cent to EUR1.7 billion, and Musgrave claims its market share is 25 per cent compared with Tesco's 24 per cent.

'New SuperValu stores will add significantly to retail turnover in the coming year. This is independent of anticipated growth from existing stores,' said Musgrave SuperValu-Centra managing director Donal Horgan.

There will be 10 to 12 new SuperValu stores, measuring about 20,000 sq ft to 22,000 sq ft (1,860 sq m to 2,045 sq m), in locations including Watchcross in Limerick, Letterkenny and Ballymun, and Rowlagh in Dublin.

Separately, Musgrave will invest in a further 25 to 30 Centra shops that will take convenience store numbers to 110.

'The market (for SuperValu) is pretty much saturated, with the exception of a few areas,' a spokeswoman said, so the main focus of expansion after this year would be the convenience format Centra.

Musgrave has created the new role of business development director and appointed sales director Barry Coffey to begin in May.

His replacement as sales director, Martin Kelleher, will join the main board.