The three-monthly Kantar Worldpanel supermarket share figures released yesterday confirm two things. Firstly, Tesco Ireland, which fell 5.5 per cent to a 25.4 per cent market share, is nowhere near arresting its alarming decline in the Irish market. Secondly, SuperValu, which fell 0.4 per cent to 25.2 per cent, has missed a gaping open goal given what is happening to the market leader.
Tesco's turnaround strategy in this State is likely to mirror whatever the group's new chief executive, Dave Lewis, decides to do in Britain, its home market. The dynamics in both markets are similar, with the German discounters Aldi and Lidl gobbling up Tesco's customer base.
Lewis, who was parachuted in from Unilever to firefight at least a month earlier than planned, only had his first day on the job yesterday. Can he possibly devise and implement a new strategy in time to prevent a thoroughly blue, blue Christmas for the retailing behemoth? The clock is against him.
SuperValu, on the other hand, is within touching distance of taking over as the leading supermarket chain in the State. Good news, right? Perhaps, but if it does achieve this milestone it will have happened solely by default because of Tesco’s dire performance and not because of anything SuperValu has done.
Musgrave bet big when it paid about €200 million to acquire Superquinn more than three years ago. Apart from rebranding it to SuperValu this year, it has done practically nothing with it. The enlarged chain isn't even keeping pace with overall market growth.
The core SuperValu chain, excluding the old, mainly Dublin-based Superquinn stores, came in at 19.8 per cent in Kantar’s figures yesterday, barely ahead of where it has been for the last 12 months. The brand appears to have gotten very little lift from the increased buying power and publicity that the Superquinn acquisition brought to it, along with 5.4 market share percentage points.
Dublin is driving the economic recovery – it is by far the most important retail battleground. It is clear that in the capital it is Aldi and Lidl (up 14.4 per cent and 11.4 per cent respectively) which are mopping up former Tesco customers, and not those newly-rebranded SuperValu stores.