OVER one hundred jobs in Kilkenny have been saved following the takeover of Superquinn by the Musgrave Retail Group.
There was palpable relief in the Market Cross Shopping Centre yesterday (Tuesday) morning after a tense night on Monday when there were real fears that jobs could be lost.
There are 110 people working in the supermarket. and when Including suppliers and other people who indirectly work for the supermarket it was feared that up to 150 people would be out of work if Superquinn closed in Kilkenny.
On Monday staff heard that a consortium of banks including Bank of Ireland, AIB and National Irish Bank had appointed receivers Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson of KPMG. The banks are owed around €400m with the problematic debts relating to property.
However, even as staff, suppliers and customers were digesting that grim news, the receivers were completing a deal to sell the chain to the Musgrave Group.
In a statement, the receivers stressed that Superquinn would continue to trade as normal - and that pending completion of the deal, they will ensure all suppliers are paid. They also said the transaction would secure the long term viability of the Superquinn business.
Musgrave’s Supervalu brand has just under 24% of the Irish grocery market. Adding Superquinn’s 6.4% share would take it to around 30% and push it ahead of Tesco as the biggest supermarket player in the country. Between them, Tesco, Musgrave and Dunnes would control 70% of the grocery market.
The Mandate trade union, which represents retail staff, has given the buyout a cautious welcome.
However, the Irish Farmers’ Association said the purchase of a medium-size chain like Superquinn by one of the bigger players in the Irish market, meant just three companies now dominate the sector here.
The president of the IFA, John Bryan, expressed concern that producers would be squeezed for lower prices as a result.
Meanwhile, Eamonn Richardson of KPMG said: “Customers in Kilkenny will continue to experience the typical Superquinn shopping experience.... All of the shops will continue to trade as normal. The Group, which has been operating in a tough trading environment, has been heavily indebted, primarily due to property related loans. Therefore, this receivership, together with the planned sale as a going concern to Musgrave Group, is a positive development for Superquinn, its employees and customers. ”