Dunnes makes ma­jor changes to boards

Irish Independent - Business Week - - BUSINESSWEEK - John Mul­li­gan

OP­ER­A­TIONAL con­trol of Dunnes Stores – Ire­land’s third-largest gro­cery re­tailer – is un­der­go­ing what is ar­guably its big­gest change in more than a gen­er­a­tion, as ma­tri­arch Mar­garet Heffernan in­creas­ingly cedes much of her hands-on role at the dy­nasty to her daugh­ter, Anne.

Anne Heffernan (49) and Mar­garet Heffernan’s niece, Sharon McMa­hon (47), have both just been ap­pointed di­rec­tors of all Dunnes Stores com­pa­nies.

While they’ve both been in­volved in the se­cre­tive Dunnes Stores busi­ness for some time, in­dus­try in­sid­ers say that Anne Heffernan is now the de facto leader of day-to-day op­er­a­tions, es­pe­cially on the food side. Sharon McMa­hon is un­der­stood to be run­ning the re­tail group’s prop­erty and in­vest­ment in­ter­ests. She has pre­vi­ously been re­port­edly in­volved in the tex­tiles side of the re­tailer.

The com­pany did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

For years, there has been con­tin­u­ing spec­u­la­tion about whether Dunnes Stores could be sold, or if a new gen­er­a­tion would grad­u­ally suc­ceed Mar­garet Heffernan (75) and her brother, Frank Dunne (74), who for decades have been the duo in charge at the busi­ness.

The re­cent raft of di­rec­tor­ship ap­point­ments across the group com­pa­nies, and Anne Heffernan’s deep in­volve­ment in op­er­a­tions, now ap­pear to ce­ment a strategy to see the chain re­main in fam­ily con­trol.

Anne Heffernan qual­i­fied as a doc­tor, but has long been in line to take over the reins at Dunnes Stores. Sharon McMa­hon is a solic­i­tor and worked with Ir­ish law gi­ant Math­e­son Ormsby Pren­tice be­fore ded­i­cat­ing her­self to the fam­ily re­tail chain.

Ben Dunne Snr, Mar­garet Heffernan’s fa­ther, opened the first Dunnes Stores in 1944, on Pa­trick Street in Cork.

In the fol­low­ing decades, it ex­panded sig­nif­i­cantly, and es­tab­lished a pres­ence in North­ern Ire­land, Bri­tain and Spain.

It has al­most 160 stores and gen­er­ates an­nual sales in the re­gion of €2.6bn.

Ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent fig­ures from re­search group Kan­tar World­panel, Dunnes Stores has a 21.1pc share of Ire­land’s multi-bil­lion euro gro­cery mar­ket based on the value of sales.

That puts it in third place be­hind Su­perValu, with a 22.2pc share, and Tesco with 22pc.

The Ir­ish gro­cery mar­ket is ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive, with Ger­man re­tail­ers Lidl and Aldi build­ing a sig­nif­i­cant pres­ence here and snatch­ing mar­ket share from rivals.

While Lidl has a 12pc share of the mar­ket based on the value of sales, and Aldi has 11.5pc, it’s reck­oned that the pair are prob­a­bly the big­gest play­ers in the Ir­ish mar­ket in terms of the vol­ume of gro­cery sales.

Lidl and Aldi have ex­pended sig­nif­i­cant ef­fort in build­ing re­la­tion­ships with Ir­ish food com­pa­nies, help­ing them to de­velop prod­uct ranges that are not only sold in their Ir­ish out­lets, but ex­ported to the chains’ stores across Europe.

Both chains have con­tin­u­ing ex­pan­sion plans for Ire­land, which will heap more pres­sure on Dunnes, Tesco and Mus­grave-con­trolled Su­perValu.

Dunnes Stores has de­vel­oped a more up-mar­ket range of prod­ucts and in 2016 pur­chased craft firm James Whe­lan Butch­ers.

Dunnes bought the small cof­fee shop busi­ness Café Sol in 2015. Dunnes also re­port­edly looked at buy­ing Avoca, which was sold to US gi­ant Ara­mark for about €60m in 2015.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.