Spar owner maintains bottom line despite Covid-19 challenges

BWG Foods says in latest set of accounts that the pandemic did not negatively impact its overall business last year

BWG Foods, the company behind Spar in Ireland, has said it suffered no adverse effects from the Covid-19 pandemic last year as it recorded turnover and profits largely in line with its previous year’s trading.

The group is a long-established retail and wholesale business that owns and operates the Spar, EuroSpar, Mace, Londis and XL brands in the Republic, working in partnership with independent retailers with more than 1,000 stores across the country.

It serves more than a million shoppers every day here, and estimates an individual is never more than 10km away from one of its stores.

Its latest set of accounts lodged with the Companies Registration Office, covering the year ended September 30th, 2021, show it achieved turnover of €1.4 billion over the period, which was up from €1.37 billion the year before.


The company generated an operating profit of €38 million, which was down slightly from €38.2 million the year before. The profit for the year, after taxation and minority interests, amounted to €32.4 million, down from €33.6 million.

The group said the Covid-19 pandemic had a “variable impact” across different sectors of its business but “has not impacted negatively on the overall business”.

“The company is part of a group that has considerable financial resources available to it and has implemented necessary public health measures to safeguard the health of its workforce and customers,” it said in a note attached to the accounts.

The group had shareholder funds of €79.8 million, which were down from €81.9 million. Total comprehensive income for the year amounted to €35.9 million, down from €39.7 million.

The average monthly number of employees, including the directors, during the year was 1,265, which was up from 1,197 the previous year. Staff costs, including directors’ remuneration, amounted to 62.7 million, up from €58.5 million the year before.

Earlier this year, BWG said it was investing €6.5 million in new smart technology that anticipates customer behaviour based on factors such as local weather, sporting events and even social media activity. It then orders in stock automatically for stores.

The artificial intelligence-based predictive stock-ordering solution aims to reduce the amount of time shop owners spend compiling orders, while also allowing them to benefit from additional purchases on items they might not know would be in demand.

Traditional ordering platforms rely on past data, creating a replenishment-based order by analysing what has sold, taking into account safety stock in order to predict what retailers should purchase.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter