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Ireland’s Sunday Business Post reports that Superquinn chairman Simon Burke, who engineered the acquisition of the legendary retailer from founder Feargal Quinn by the Select Retail Holdings (SRH) consortium three years ago, is denying rumors that the company is once again up for sale.

‘‘I am getting pretty fed up of all the talk,” Burke tells the Post, conceding that the company has been approached a half-dozen times about selling the chain. ‘‘There is obviously speculation that we are considering selling the company and that speculation is very visible and very high profile. But let me be clear about this, this business is not for sale.”

According to Burke, Superquinn has a long term relationship with Goldman Sach’s corporate finance team in London, and has, as a matter of policy, referred unsolicited bids for the company to its advisers…which has led to the speculation.

‘‘There is so much esoteric interest in this company, it is something of a celebrity,” Burke tells the Post. “Every time I sneeze, it seems to make news in a newspaper; Superquinn is a corporate celebrity.”

The Post reports that “rather than exit the business, Burke said the SRH consortium was focused on expansion. A new store in Portlaoise opened last week, the chain’s second new opening of the year and its 24th store in all. A further outlet in Rathgar, Dublin, is on the cards in the near future, according to Burke…(and) the company plans to open up to ten additional outlets over the coming years.”

Burke described the churning rumor mill as “a storm in a teacup.”

KC's View:
Burke can deny the speculation all he wants…it seems likely that under the right circumstances, Superquinn indeed will be sold. The competitive landscape in Ireland is only going to get tougher, and it will become increasingly difficult for a relatively small and independent entity to maintain and increase market share. (Though I’m not entirely sure that it will be a British retailer such as Tesco that will end up acquiring Superquinn; there are reports that a private equity group could make the most persuasive bid.)

It pains me to say this, by the way, since I am a longtime admirer of Feargal Quinn and the company he founded; in so many ways, Senator Quinn was ahead of his time when it came to things like customer service, loyalty marketing, food safety, and other important industry issues.

But the eventual sale of Superquinn probably is more a matter of “when” rather than “if.”