Retail operator Musgrave to create 550 jobs in the north as part of £28m expansion

A new Centra store at City Quays in Belfast opened last month. Pictured at the opening are: Nigel Maxwell, Centra sales director; Stephen Gracey, owner, Centra City Quays; Graeme Johnston, property director, Belfast Harbour; and Anna McErlean, owner, Centra City Quays.
Gareth McKeown

IRISH convenience retail operator Musgrave has announced ambitious plans to create 550 jobs in the north as part of a mammoth £28 million investment.

The owner of the SuperValu, Centra and Mace brands is set to open 20 new Northern Ireland stores this year and is to revamp a further 40 as part of the major expansion programme.

The store openings will be made up of a mix of new store developments and acquisitions, as Musgrave seeks to convert retailers and buy new sites.

Already this year the group has opened Gracey's Centra City Quays in Belfast and a new Centra store in Mallusk is currently being built.

Meanwhile refurbishment work has been carried out at sites including; Lilley's Centra in Enniskillen, Moran's Centra in Derry, Watson's Centra Cloughey, as well SuperValu sites in Comber and Belfast's Kings Road.

The ambitious growth strategy is part of Musgrave's vision to "redefine convenience" in the north through the creation of refreshed, inviting, modern stores that challenge the status quo.

The major investment comes on the back of strong financial figures reported by the company last year, which saw turnover rise by 4 per cent to €3.9bn (£3.5bn). The Musgrave Group also recorded a 5.6 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to €84.5m (£75.4m).

Across the island of Ireland SuperValu grew sales last year by 1.5 per cent to €2.9bn (£2.6m), while Centra reported an uplift of 4 per cent to to €1.9bn (£1.7m).

In the north the SuperValu, Centra, Mace and MarketPlace also delivered significant growth in 2018, with positive year on year sales growth across all brands.

Michael McCormack, managing director of Musgrave Northern Ireland believes the expansion plans are "ambitious, but achievable".

"For us, this is all about how we'll realise our vision to ‘redefine convenience' in Northern Ireland," he said.

“We have been working towards achieving this vision across our SuperValu, Centra and Mace brands; focusing on what matters to our shoppers – bringing healthier, restaurant quality food to convenience and continuously innovating across all aspects of convenience.”

In addition to opening new stores and refurbishing existing outlets, Musgrave is planning to bring new concepts to the Northern Ireland market this year.

One of these is Caramico pizza, which has previously been rolled out in the Republic, while a rotisserie style chicken concept is also due to be introduced in local stores.

In 2018 Musgrave celebrated 35 years in business in the north. The group employs 5,000 people in Northern Ireland and works with 130 retail families.

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