This year, Checkout commemorates its 40th anniversary, and with this in mind, every week, Retail Intelligence is going to ‘reel in the years’ and publish a story from our extensive archives. This feature from November 1984 looks back at a report from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Small Businesses and the recommendations it made.
In its final report, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Small Businesses has made three major recommendations regarding the future of the multiple and independent trade in Ireland. Firstly, the report urges a ceiling on multiple growth, declaring that no supermarket chain should have more than 25% of the market. This figure must have must have serious implications for Quinnsworth and Dunnes Stores, who are both reasonably close to achieving this type of market share, and the recommendation must be seen against the background of other countries such as Britain where the leading chain is only approaching 15% of the market.
Secondly the report calls for new legislation which would make it an offence to sell retail goods at below cost, though of course John Bruton’s views on this topic are in total contrast to the committee’s. Thirdly, the report recommends expansion of the Ministerial Planning Directive of 1982, making that particular piece of legislation in the words of RGDATA’s Michael Campbell, “more logical, more measurable and easier to implement.”
All in all, the report has been greeted by the independent trade, which is particularly glad of its practically-minded recommendations, though whether these are ever passed into law is of course quite another matter.
On Below Cost Selling, Mr. Paddy James, Dunnes Stores said, “I would think that there are two factors one could consider about it. Below cost selling, first, should be controlled. I have always advocated this and it would be wrong for me to change my mind at this time. I thought for a considerable number of years that it should have some government control.
“The other area about pricing which is one; that is coming closely to cost selling but not below cost selling. That is a major factor.”
On Irish Made Goods, Mr. Feargal Quinn, Superquinn said, “When we launched our range of Thrift products, that is unbranded products, we went out of our way, which is in total contrast to our competitors, to make sure that every single product that could be manufactured in Ireland was manufactured in Ireland.”
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