This year, Checkout commemorates its 40th anniversary under its current owners, 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 article from June 1996 focuses on the rumours surounding Dunnes Stores' first foray into convenience retailing.
There is a good deal of speculation within the trade that Dunnes Stores will open a small outlet in inner city Dublin in the near future. Surprisingly the most likely location is George’s Street, the site of Dunne’s first outlet in Dublin, not long ago vacated for the more upmarket St Stephen’s Green. Dunnes Stores, like the other multiples, have seen the success of the symbol groups’ city centre convenience retailing format, particularly Spar’s.
In fact, these convenience stores are making the city branches of the multiples look positively old-fashioned, with their continuing concentration on dry grocery to the neglect of what people in a hurry now want to buy – freshly prepared sandwiches and rolls, hot deli, food and drinks.
If Dunnes are thinking along these lines, (they only have to look to Tesco Metro stores for encouragement), they will first have to resolve their differences with the unions, but at time of Checkout going to press, there is not much optimism about a settlement, despite Dunnes offering their workers what they call “a generous new offer for the resolution of the difficulties arising from last summer’s trade dispute.”
The unions are not too happy about two aspects of the Dunnes offer, the date for backdating payment of the PESP, and the payment rate for Sunday working. Dunnes maintain that they pay better rates than the other multiples and are the first multiple to offer the PESP nationally.
Certainly, Dunnes is correct in saying that it pays more than what the JLC reccomends for symbol group employees – £2.40 an hour – but the reality on the ground is that symbol groups often pay more than this basic figure to attract and keep good staff.
Although convenience retailing is certainly the flavour of the month at present, if too many operators move into the cities the taking will become too thinly spread, a fear expressed by some of those currently trading. Nevertheless, there is still optimism in the trade about convenience retailing, as the entry of Centra Quick Stop into O’Connell Street and Dame Street in the near future clearly shows.
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