By Dan Danaher
THE development of an Aldi outlet in Ennistymon would result in job losses in local shops, a local supermarket manager has claimed.
Supervalu manager, Jackie Crowe told a public meeting organised by Ennistymon IFA it would take 15 people to run a new Aldi store, which wouldn’t result in any new jobs as they would simply be displaced from Supervalu and small shops in the locality. She insisted the population in the Ennistymon catchment area is not big enough to support a large discount store and existing shops in the locality.
At the meeting, which took place two days ahead of the announcement of the mart being sold, Ms Crowe revealed the local Supervalu store paid out €1.4m in wages last year to 70 staff, as well as €400,000 to small independent producers in North Clare.
She told the meeting Supervalu paid out €17,000 in sponsorship to local clubs and charities.
Since Supervalu moved to Church Street five years ago, Ms Crowe estimated the supermarket had helped local clubs raise €60,000 through bag packing in the store.
Ms Crowe stressed she didn’t want any statement she made to be misconstrued as anti-competition, as competition is the lifeblood of the retail industry.
If Aldi succeeds in its plans to provide a discount store in Ennistymon, she warned Supervalu would experience a drop in sales, leaving it with less money to spend purchasing goods from local suppliers, which they valued because they added so to their shop.
Munster IFA chairman, James McCarthy pointed out the IFA organised a protest against a number of retailers including Dunnes Stores over below cost selling and didn’t have a “favourite” supermarket.
He noted the organisation also had opposed Supervalu’s practice of discounting beef and lamb in the past.
There are an estimated 75,000 suckler cows in Clare, which is the largest suckler herd in Munster.
Senator Martin Conway pledged his full support to save Ennistymon Mart.
He said an extraordinary general meeting should have been called to allow the 1,700 members of Clare Marts to vote on the proposed sale. If this happened, he predicted most of the Clare Marts members would support the retention of the mart.
“Money can’t buy a rural community. If a rural community goes, we will not be able to buy it back. There was an opportunity here to strike a blow against Aldi concerning what they did before Christmas selling Brussels Sprouts below cost.
“Aldi doesn’t have the interests of rural Ireland or farmers at heart. Why would a farming organisatio sell a mart to Aldi.
This prompted an angry response from Mr McCarthy who stressed the IFA didn’t own any mart.
Senator Conway clarified his statement by stating he meant to ask why Clare Marts would sell to Aldi. He pledged to stand united with the local community as part of the cross party support to fight for the survival of a local community.
“My family is the fourth generation to run a shop in Ennistymon and I hope the next generation will continue this tradition. Farming is the lifeblood of rural communities,” he said.
Former Councillor Flan Garvey claimed the founders of Ennistymon Mart would turn in their graves if they learned about the sale. He warned local people who started up businesses in Ennistymon would lose out if the mart is sold.
“It was very wrong to treat decent North Clare people in this way. If we don’t stand up and support these local shops, we are not worth our salt. “Don’t give up the fight here tonight. North Clare people are worth more than €1.5 million.
Who can argue that an Aldi supermarket will help our heritage in a heritage town like Ennistymon? Did you ever see a new supermarket near a graveyard before? Have we any respect for the living or the dead?,” he asked
IFA Ennistymon chairman, Pat O’Donoghue claimed that Aldi’s commercial agenda couldn’t be described as “farmer friendly”.
“It has the potential to suck the life out of bakeries, newsagents and small business in Ennistymon,” he said.
Councillor Bill Slattery proposed if locals lost the battle to prevent the sale of the mart, then up to €200,000 should be donated by Clare Marts to the Friend of Ennistymon Hospital or another local community group.