This is a story about long term effectiveness. It is a story about how a brave local retailer with daring ambition wrestled back leadership from Tesco and defied the forces of globalisation.
SuperValu was founded in 1979 with a base of just 16 stores, mainly in Munster. While they had grown to 182 stores by 2004, and acquired Superquinn (another Irish retailer) in 2011, they were a retailer with two speeds, an urban speed and a rural speed.
The urban speed was still reeling from the Superquinn takeover, when stores were rebranded to SuperValu in 2014. Superquinn had a more premium brand perception, much closer to the Waitrose proposition in the UK. Consumers were in a state of chassis as they felt they were paying convenience store prices in large supermarkets and were unfamiliar with the brand and mistrustful of its quality.
The rural speed was entirely different. SuperValu stores were at the centre of every community in Ireland. They were seen as a retailer with a heart, they looked after their own, and their rural consumers already knew they were a quality retailer who supported local producers and offered good value for money.
To further complicate the background to this story, Tesco has been present in Ireland since 1997, when it took over another major Irish supermarket chain, Quinnsworth. Between this inevitable drift of the UK retailer to our shores, and the arrival of the discounters in Ireland, the category as we knew it had changed forever and all bets were off.
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