Spar owner sees spike in sales of gardening products

BWG Foods says sales of items such as plants surpassed €1m over past 8 weeks

Social distancing measures in place at a Eurospar outlet in Cobh, Co Cork. Photograph: John Allen

Social distancing measures in place at a Eurospar outlet in Cobh, Co Cork. Photograph: John Allen


Spar owner BWG saw sales of gardening products surpass €1 million over the past eight weeks as consumers sought out alternative locations to shop when garden centres were shut.

BWG Foods, which also owns and operates the Eurospar, Mace, Londis and XL brands, said it saw “significant demand” for its gardening products as the Covid-19 shutdown caused most DIY and garden centres to close their doors until Monday.

Some 200,000 plants have been sold across BWG’s store estate since March 23rd, with sales through grocery retail providing an alternative avenue for growers and nurseries during what is ordinarily their busiest trading period of the year.

“While people have been confined to their homes during the lockdown period, many have embraced their gardens as a healthy means of passing time. We have a network of over 1,000 community-based stores across the country, meaning we had the ability to cater to a very significant proportion of the population’s gardening needs, while they respect the Covid-19 travel restrictions,” said Willie O’Byrne, managing director of BWG Foods.

The company also reported a large rise in the sale of consumer staples since the beginning of the shutdown. Anecdotal evidence from grocery retailers suggests that consumers have increasingly taken up home cooking and baking as restaurants across the State remain shuttered except for takeaway meals.

BWG said egg sales rose 70 per cent since the beginning of the shutdown when compared with the same period last year, while butter sales rose 50 per cent. Sales of milk rose 15 per cent.

Added to that was a sales boost as a result of good weather. Take-home ice cream sales rose 77 per cent in the period, while sales of prepacked meat, traditionally associated with the barbecue season, increased by 38 per cent.

BWG Foods works with independent retailers in 1,083 stores across the State. The company deals with more than 650 suppliers and directly employs about 1,400 staff.