Retail News

XL celebrates 25th birthday at its annual Retailing Standards awards

October 2022

Awards ceremony recognised XL stores that demonstrated outstanding industry excellence following a comprehensive programme of inspections and audits

XL celebrated its 25th birthday at its annual Retailing Standards awards night at the Hodson Bay Hotel in Co. Westmeath.

Hosted by BWG Foods, owners and operators of the XL Retail brand in Ireland, the awards ceremony recognised XL stores that demonstrated outstanding industry excellence following a comprehensive programme of inspections and audits carried out by Ireland’s leading Retail Audit company, SMA Retail Specialists.

In total, 18 Retailing Standard awards were presented to XL retailers, including the coveted Store of the Year Award, which was won by Enda Scully’s, XL Daingean, Co. Offaly.

The celebrations on the night also paid tribute to how XL retailers have been providing an invaluable service to their communities and customers for a quarter of a century and how the brand continues to grow and evolve.

Paul Bealin, Cash & Carry sales director, BWG Foods said: “XL retailers have been proudly serving their communities and customers for 25 years and it was wonderful to be in a position to celebrate that achievement together for the first time since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic. I want to congratulate all XL retailers on their achievements, with a special word for Enda and all in Scully’s XL Daingean on their continuing to set the benchmark for the XL brand and marketplace overall. Here’s to another 25 years of outstanding retail service.”

Imelda Hurley announced as new Ibec President for 2022-2023

September 2022

With over 20 years of experience in leadership and finance roles, Imelda Hurley is currently CEO at Coillte, Ireland’s state forestry company Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, has appointed Imelda Hurley, CEO of Coillte as its new president for 2022 to 2023. She succeeds Frank Gleeson, president and CEO of Aramark Northern Europe.

Marking the announcement, Imelda Hurley said: “It is a privilege to be appointed Ibec president for the next 12 months. While the economy faces unprecedented inflationary competitiveness challenges at present, it is important that we do not lose focus in meeting the long-term strategic issues we face as a society, particularly the climate emergency crisis.

“I look forward to using my role as president to support Ibec’s ongoing engagement with government and leading stakeholders to realise the country’s ambition of positioning Ireland as a world leader in terms of its transformation to both a sustainable business model and society,” Hurley added.

Imelda Hurley has spent over 20 years in leadership and finance roles across a variety of sectors including forestry, food, agriculture, technology related product development and supply chain management. She is an experienced executive and non-executive director having been a board member in public company, state owned, private equity and venture capital backed businesses. She has worked extensively in Ireland, the UK, Eastern Europe, Hong Kong and China.

She is currently CEO at Coillte, Ireland’s state forestry company which is responsible for managing 440,000 hectares of primarily forested lands. She is also a non-executive director at Dole plc, a global leader in fresh fruit and vegetables and at Ibec, Ireland’s largest business representative group. Prior to joining Coillte, Hurley was an executive director and CFO with agri-services group Origin Enterprises plc, and, earlier in her career, she held a range of senior leadership positions at PCH International, and Greencore Group plc. She has also previously served as a non-executive director of Total Produce plc, Valeo Foods and Ervia.

Hurley is a graduate of University of Limerick, a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and an alumna of Harvard Business School.

“Imelda is a recognised leader in the field of Irish and European business and her experience and insights will no doubt support our efforts over the coming year to help navigate the economy through a challenging period,” said Ibec CEO Danny McCoy.

“We look forward to working with her and wish her great success.”

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Daybreak and the Irish Heart Foundation team up to ‘Get a Move On!’ towards tackling heart disease!

August 2022

For the month of September, the 'Get a Move On!' campaign challenges Daybreak retailers and staff to walk 10,000 steps daily

Daybreak and long-term charity partner, the Irish Heart Foundation are back with another active challenge. The ‘Get a Move On!’ campaign challenges Daybreak retailers and staff to walk 10,000 steps daily for the month of September.

The aim for this year’s active challenge is to showcase that making small lifestyle changes can make a big difference to heart health, all while raising funds for a worthy cause.

Over 200 Daybreak stores are taking part in the challenge over the month of September. Participants will commit to hitting 10,000 steps a day and will ask customers, family and friends to sponsor them to achieve the fundraising target.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Irish Heart Foundation again,” said Molly Byrne, assistant brand manager, Daybreak.

“This year we wanted to create a challenge which showcased that small lifestyle changes can make a big difference to overall health,” Byrne continued. “Sometimes challenges can be intimidating and difficult to participate in but the goal of Get a Move On! is all about participation rather than perfection. It’s about taking the stairs rather than the elevator, walking rather than driving or simply getting some fresh air during a walk on your break. These small changes really add up and improve heart health!

“Daybreak stores are at the heart of communities all across Ireland and we are proud to continue to support the Irish Heart Foundation and their mission to eliminate preventable death and disability from heart disease and stroke and to support and care for those living with these life-changing conditions,” Byrne added.

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Grocery inflation in Ireland hits highest level in 14 years

August 2022 

“Everyday essentials such as butter, milk, flour, eggs and bread are seeing some of the biggest price rises," says Kantar's Emer Healy. Average annual shop could rise by a staggering €662 if consumers buy the same products as they did last year... Irish consumers’ spending on take-home groceries fell slightly by 0.7% over the 12 weeks to 7 August 2022, according to the latest figures from Kantar.

Inflation hits 9.5%

Despite the recent growth in spending, grocery inflation remains a key challenge having hit 9.5%, the highest level seen since July 2008, when Kantar first started tracking the data.

“Food and drink prices are continuing to climb, with consumers paying 8.1% more per item during the month of August than they were last year.  The impact of this on shopping budgets is now unavoidable for many Irish consumers,” said Emer Healy, senior retail analyst with Kantar.

“Everyday essentials such as butter, milk, flour, eggs and bread are seeing some of the biggest price rises,” Healy continued. “This rise means that the average annual shop could rise by a staggering €662 if consumers buy the same products as they did last year. It is no surprise that we are seeing Irish shoppers making lifestyle changes to deal with the extra pressures on their household budgets.”

Impact on brands

Branded items are continuing to feel the impact of shoppers looking for ways to mitigate rising prices. In the latest 12 week, Irish consumers spent €42.6m less on branded goods – a decline of 3.1%. Many shoppers are turning to retailer own label offerings, with sales up by 3.5% (€44.5m), with value ranges within own label seeing the biggest increase, up 14.7%. Own label now accounts for 46.7% of the total Irish grocery market send, up 2.7% from 2020.

With inflation at an all-time high, and Ireland facing a potential recession later this year, differences between the current situation and the last economic downturn in 2008 are becoming clear. For instance, it is becoming increasingly difficult for consumers to hunt out deals in-store: the percentage of groceries being sold on promotion in the last 12 weeks stands at 24.6%, compared to 34.2% in 2010.

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CSNA welcomes ‘auto activation’ of Lottery scratch cards

August 2022

[The National Lottery Regulator has published a report revealing significant levels of non-compliance to lottery age restrictions. ‘Auto activation’ on scratch cards will be implemented from 5 September 2022. Association says change will eliminate almost 95% of previous reasons for breaches of PLI rules.

The Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association (CSNA) has welcomed the news from Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI) that ‘auto activation’ on scratch cards will be implemented from 5 September 2022.

The CSNA described the development as “a welcome relief to the network in general” and in particular to the agents who have received penalties imposed by PLI for numerous breaches of the non-activation rule. In some cases, this involved a penalty of five days’ trading with no Lottery product.

According to the CSNA, the change will eliminate almost 95% of previous reasons for breaches of PLI rules and will be seen as righting a wrong. While the current number of “strikes” against an agent will still stand, the association says these should disappear over a period of time.

One point to bear in mind though is that your inactivated stock, previously holding no value, from 5 September onwards, must now be treated as valuable and expensive product, similar to tobacco and alcohol and be kept in a secure and locked area until required for sale

Also, while an inactivated ticket that is presented in another store may no longer incur penalties, the CSNA advises that it would be desirable that you continue to activate in-store for best practice and record keeping. PLI will not automatically inform you of any books activated elsewhere but you can seek that information on request if you suspect you may have an issue. 

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Latest retailing trends, tech and solutions revealed at Spar Innovation Event

A number of interesting guest contributions on the day featured Olympic Gold Medallist and Spar brand ambassador, Kellie Harrington, alongside TV and radio’s Baz Ashmawy, amongst others...Hundreds of retailers from across Ireland attended the business forum to gain valuable industry insights and learn about new solutions

“Spar has always been at the very forefront of retail innovation in Ireland and across the world,” said Colin Donnelly, speaking at the event. Spar Ireland hosted a Spar Innovation Event last week when hundreds of retailers from across Ireland gathered at the business forum showcasing the latest thinking in retailing trends, along with revealing a number of technologies and other solutions to support retailers’ businesses due to roll out over the next 12 months.

Among the new solutions showcased on the day was BWG Foods’ new predictive AI stock management system, ShopLink Pro, which leverages hundreds of complex data points to predict consumer demand for in-store products, allowing for smarter forecasting of stock requirements, while also considering business promotions and category management to deliver 21-day, 14-day and 7-day sales forecasts.  The BWG team also revealed an innovative new HR Support service to support retailers with managing this very important part of their business. Read more:

Mark Byrne of Blake’s Centra, Blarney Filling Station, named GMAs Supreme Champion 2022

July 2022

Shelflife Grocery Management Awards 2022 honour the grocery retail industry’s finest managers 

Ireland’s grocery retail industry gathered at Dublin’s Royal Marine Hotel last night, Wednesday, 6 July, for the 2022 ShelfLife Grocery Management Awards, recognising individual management excellence in the sector.

With 350 guests in attendance. 23 awards were presented, honouring the best in the many departments that make up local convenience stores and supermarkets, culminating in the grand prize of ShelfLife National Grocery Retail Manager of the Year.

Led by MC Shay Byrne of RTE Radio One’s Rising Time, the prestigious, independently judged awards ceremony is supported by platinum sponsor Bank of Ireland and carried out in association with Excel Recruitment.

Mark Byrne of Blake’s Centra, Blarney Filling Station, Co. Cork was named National Grocery Retail Manager of the Year 2022. He was presented the award by Owen Clifford, head of retail convenience at Bank of Ireland, the ShelfLife Grocery Management Awards’ platinum sponsor.

The judges deemed Mark Byrne an outstanding winner on account of the true dedication and passion he has demonstrated for the retail industry.

Commenting on the overall national winner, the judges noted: “A firm, fair and friendly manager, Mark Byrne has said time and time again how the heart and defiance of his team during a two-year pandemic has helped their store reach record turnovers. This award is not just based on sales figures but how well retailers can adapt to the ever-changing landscape of the retail industry.

“Mark’s truly positive outlook on life shines through to his management style and how he runs his store. He has invested many hours in developing his team and ensuring they get the recognition they deserve. A true advocate for excellence in retailing, Mark Byrne is well deserving of this award.”  

The theme of this year’s ceremony was ‘Heroes of Retail’, a title which ShelfLife publisher John McDonald described as a fitting tribute to the dedication demonstrated by Ireland’s leading grocery managers.

“The flexibility and quick-thinking required by Ireland’s leading grocery managers has once again been thoroughly demonstrated by this year’s winners,” McDonald said.

“Retailers have faced huge challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic – not least of which, difficulties with staff rostering due to isolation restrictions. Rising business costs have likewise become a serious issue for community-based retailers. However, despite all the challenges, the winners awarded tonight have shown they can always be relied upon to deliver true professionalism, fantastic service and real care for their customers which sees them continuously go above and beyond to deliver an internationally renowned shopping experience. Their unfaltering attention to detail is truly to be commended.”

Owen Clifford, head of retail sector, Bank of Ireland, the event’s platinum sector, likewise spoke of the importance of supporting and recognising managers’ dedication, noting: “Bank of Ireland are delighted to once again be lead sponsor of the Grocery management awards. These awards showcase the excellent standards and service delivered by the Irish grocery sector. They also celebrate the significant contribution made by personnel within the sector to their local communities nationwide.  Personally, it remains a privilege to support and recognise all that’s great about the internationally renowned Irish grocery sector.”

The full list of awards, winners and sponsors:

ShelfLife National Grocery Retail Manager of the Year 2022

Mark Byrne, Blake’s Centra, Blarney Filling Station, Co. Cork

Hero of the Year – Sponsored by Müller

Oleksandr Zavhorodniy, Aldi Sandyford, Co. Dublin

Cash & Carry Manager of the Year – Sponsored by ShelfLife Magazine

Gary Moriarty, Value Centre Listowel, Co. Kerry

In-Store Bakery Manager of the Year – Sponsored by ShelfLife Magazine

Veronica Kenny, Candy’s Costcutter, Carnew, Co. Wicklow

Protein/Provisions Manager of the Year – Sponsored by ShelfLife Magazine

Edmund Galavan, SuperValu, Kilbarry, Co. Waterford

Customer Service Manager of the Year – Sponsored by Excel Recruitment

Christina Ryan, SuperValu Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

C-Store Delicatessen/Food to Go Manager of the Year – Sponsored by ShelfLife Magazine

Alicia Skwarek, Centra Arklow, Co. Wicklow

Forecourt Delicatessen/Food to Go Manager of the Year – Sponsored by ShelfLife Magazine

Kathryn Moloney, Casey’s Londis, Castlebar, Mayo

Supermarket Delicatessen/Food to Go Manager of the Year – Sponsored by ShelfLife Magazine

Susan Lennon, SuperValu Kilbarry, Waterford City

Fruit & Vegetable Manager of the Year – Sponsored by Excel Recruitment

Jason McGoldrick, SuperValu Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo

Off-Licence Manager of the Year – Sponsored by Barefoot

Arthur McGuire, Daybreak, Raven Terrace, Co. Galway

HR Manager of the Year – Sponsored by Excel Recruitment

Naomi Ryan, Donnybrook Fair, Dublin 4

C-Store Manager of the Year (Small) – Sponsored by Vuse / BAT

Claire Slevin, Herlihy’s Centra Patrick Street, Co. Cork

C-Store Manager of the Year (Medium) – Sponsored by PepsiCo

Micheal Cummins, Cummins Daybreak, Galbally, Co. Limerick

C-Store Manager of the Year (Large) – Sponsored by PepsiCo

Erica Gavigan, Donnybrook Fair, Morehampton Road, Donnybrook, Dublin 4

Forecourt Manager of the Year (Small) – Sponsored by Seattle’s Best Coffee

Mark Byrne, Blake’s Centra, Blarney Filling Station, Co. Cork

Forecourt Manager of the Year (Large) – Sponsored by Seattle’s Best Coffee

Michael Feeney, Applegreen, Lusk North, Co Dublin

Supermarket Manager of the Year (Small) – Sponsored by Bank of Ireland

Darren Dunphy, Dunnes Stores, Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2

Supermarket Manager of the Year (Mid-Sized) – Sponsored by Bank of Ireland

Aurelija Barbsiene, Aldi Newcastle West, Co. Limerick

Supermarket Manager of the Year (Large) – Sponsored by Bank of Ireland

Ger Joyce, SuperValu Swords Pavilions, Swords, Co Dublin

Retail Team of the Year – Sponsored by Hale 

Brodericks Spar Croom, Spar, Main Street, Croom, Co. Limerick

Brand Marketing Team of the Year – Sponsored by BWG Foods

National Lottery

Trading Team Award – Sponsored by Shopper Intelligence

Dunnes Stores

Does your store have the ‘C-Factor’? Entries now open for ShelfLife C-Store Awards 2022!

June 2022

Apply now by logging onto and completing the online entry form

Entries are now open for the 2022 Convenience Store Awards. the only comprehensive and independently judged business accolades for the convenience store sector in Ireland.

In association with Cuisine de France and The National Lottery, the prestigious awards ceremony will take place on the evening of Wednesday, 23 November 2022 at the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.

With convenience stores across the country going above and beyond to provide excellent service levels, this is an ideal opportunity to recognise store standards and teamwork.

Stores can enter by logging on to and completing the online entry form. The closing date for entries is 2 September 2022.

The awards are easy to enter, simply indicate the chosen categories – you can enter the main store awards, one or more of the specialist categories alone, or both – the overall winner will be selected by the judges. The ShelfLife C-Store Awards have been designed to compare like with like so that all entrants have an equal chance of winning.

Tickets and information

For tickets and more information about this year’s event, contact Ian Mulvaney at or Mark Morgan at

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Aldi unveils Grow with Aldi finalists for 2022

Grow With Aldi 2022 finalists. 24 new Irish suppliers will have products hit shelves later this month

May 2022 

After receiving applications from nearly 200 suppliers across food, drinks and non-food products, Aldi has selected an impressive group of entrepreneurs as this year’s Grow with Aldi finalists.

A total of 24 home-grown suppliers, from across the island of Ireland, will see their products go on sale in 150 Aldi stores nationwide for a two-week period starting on 19 May, enabling customers to sample the finest of Irish artisan produce and show their support for Irish businesses.

Undertaken in partnership with Bord Bia, Grow with Aldi is now in its fifth year and puts adventure into Irish ventures through mentorship and retail support to nurture small to medium-sized Irish businesses and set them up for success. First launched in 2018, the scheme has seen Aldi invest more than €5.5 million in supporting over 200 producers and gives Irish producers unrivalled access to Irish consumers, ensuring they can grow and thrive in the Irish market.

This years’ Grow with Aldi finalists span 16 counties, from Cork to Down, Dublin to Galway, and products include a variety of mouth-watering products. From Fairtrade Kombucha and non-alcoholic cocktails to Sweet Potato Pizza and Hot Sauce, the range of finalists has something for everyone!  Successful applicants were reviewed and selected based on their passion for their craft, the quality of their produce, and their entrepreneurial spirit. Adventurous, brave and unafraid to take risks, they represent the best of Irish and epitomise what it means to truly inject adventure into your venture.

The Grow with Aldi 2022 finalists are:

All Real Nutrition Niall Harty High Protein Peanut Butter Kerry
Awe-some Creations Ltd Felicia Awe Non-Alcoholic Cocktails Meath
McBride’s Bees Trevor McBride Irish Honey Monaghan
Causeway Coffee Limited Graham Watts Coffee Beans Antrim
Richie’s Recipes Richard Brady BBQ Sauce Wicklow
Cathy’s Spelt For Health Yvonne & Cathy Wholemeal Spelt Bread Mix Kilkenny
True East Gursharan Singh Butter Ghee Meath
White Rabbit BBQ Stephen Vaughan Cold Smoked Creamery Butter Cork
La Dolce Vita NI Giuseppe Fallone LDV Chilli Sauce Down
Wild Fuschia Bakehouse Sian McCann Bread Baking Mixes Donegal
Niks Tea Limited Nicola Kearns Specialty Teas in a bag Dublin
Hurst Botanicals Ellen Quinn Fairtrade Kombucha Clare
Crawford’s Rock Seaweed Company Michelle Wilson Whiskey & Chili Seaweed Salts Down
Ellies Kitchen Home Edition Ellie Kisyombe Hot Sauces Dublin
Builín Blasta Café & Bakery (Builín Blasta Teo) Heather Flaherty Smoked Onion Mayo Galway
Sweet Potato Pizza Co Craig Grattan Sweet Potato Pizzas Dublin
Perma Pork Limited Colin Marry Sustainable Apple Pork Sausage Meath
Hanley’s Puddings Anthony Considine Roulades Cork
Gilligan’s Farm Alan & Padraig Gillegan 50z Rib Eye Burger Roscommon
Noisy Snacks Noel Allen Snackable Nut Mixes NI
Cully’s Jennifer Cully Iced Cherry Log Cavan
Karri Kitchen Chris McAloran High Protein Chicken Meals Armagh
Cashel Fine Foods / The Butchers Daughter Una O Dwyer Bake at Home Puff Pastry Sausage Rolls Tipperary
The Sibly Food Co Matthew Collins Energy Balls Cork

“Aldi is delighted to announce this year’s Grow with Aldi finalists,” said John Curtin, Aldi Ireland group buying director. “We were impressed by the quality of applications we received this year and compiling a shortlist was a near-impossible task. Championing small businesses is of the utmost importance to Aldi and Grow with Aldi illustrates our continued commitment to investing in the best of Irish products. We take pride in the mentorship programme and look forward to launching these new Irish products in stores.’’

Following this initial promotion, from 19 May for two weeks, up to six winners will be chosen and offered further opportunities with Aldi. This will include mentoring and development through a number of workshops such as buying process, supply chain management and social media marketing, followed by a number of individual mentoring sessions with the Aldi nuying team, the Aldi marketing team and Bord Bia technical experts.

Commenting on the programme Gillian Willis, Bord Bia said: “The Grow with Aldi programme plays an important role in showcasing the distinctive, innovative and delicious products Irish suppliers are working hard to create. The programme also supports participants as they develop essential business skills and capabilities through workshops and tailored mentoring which is key to building a thriving indigenous food, drink and horticulture sector for the years ahead. Congratulations to the suppliers that have made it this far.”

For more information on the Grow with Aldi programme, visit

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Today’s Women in Grocery event to be held on Friday, 6 May 2022

Excitement is mounting for the annual event, which will feature a fantastic line up of inspirational speakers

April 2022

 The Irish Grocers Benevolent Fund in conjunction with Today’s Women in Grocery (TWIG) is delighted to be hosting its first in-person networking luncheon since 2019, in the InterContinental Hotel in Dublin on Friday, 6 May 2022.

The event will be a fantastic opportunity for people working across the grocery industry in Ireland to connect, network and hear from a fantastic line up of inspirational speakers: Fiona Matthews, managing director ROI, Applegreen, Oonagh O’Hagan, owner and managing director, Meaghers Pharmacy Group, Evelyn Moynihan, CEO, Kilkenny Group and Aimee Connolly, CEO and founder at Sculpted By Aimee. The lunch will be compèred by Sonya Lennon, designer and entrepreneur.

The theme for this year’s event is ‘Embracing Change’ and Michelle Darlington, chairperson, Today’s Women in Grocery (TWIG) and marketing manager, Suntory Beverage Food Ireland, says the TWIG team are looking forward to your support in helping to raise valuable funds for the IGBF charity through this networking initiative.

A limited number of tickets are available from Roisin at Hotel Solutions, available on 016309211 or by email at  (pre-payment is required for all ticket bookings).

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