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Superquinn, the iconic Irish supermarket chain founded by Feargal Quinn in 1960 and turned into a globally recognized symbol of customer service that was an early mover in the shopper loyalty business, soon will be no more.

Musgrave, which acquired the 24-store chain from Select Retail Holdings in 2011, said this morning that it plans to combine Superquinn with its SuperValu chain and rebrand the Superquinn stores under the Supervalu banner.

Feargal Quinn sold the company to Select Retail Holdings in 2005. Shortly thereafter, as the Irish economy was hit hard by the global recession, Select seemed unable to maintain the connection with Irish shoppers that Quinn had nurtured for more than four decades.

According to the Irish Times, "As a result of the reorganisation, 102 staff at Superquinn’s support office in Lucan are to be made redundant, Musgrave said. The merger will not, however, affect the 2,500 staff working across Superquinn’s branch network."

Musgrave CEO Chris Martin released the following statement: “Combining our SuperValu and Superquinn stores creates an unrivalled Irish retail brand, enabling shoppers to access SuperValu’s offer nationally, while incorporating the best of Superquinn ... We understand that some customers will be sad to see the Superquinn name change. However, the decision follows a considered review of all options and is an inevitable next step given the realities of a totally changed grocery market and what the Irish consumer now needs."
KC's View:
I find this to be personally distressing, since I've done a lot of stories about Superquinn over the years, and have enormous respect for Feargal Quinn, who I am lucky enough to count among my friends. (And, through him, I've connected with the wondrous Anne O'Broin and her husband, Fiach O'Broin, who my son calls "the smartest man in the world" - both of whom have become my extended Irish family.)

But I guess that some things outlive their usefulness, and maybe, at a time when the Irish economy continues to struggle, Superquinn simply wasn't a sustainable business model anymore. It also is possible that Musgrave simply is looking for efficiency as opposed to effectiveness, but I'm not on the ground there and it is hard to judge.

The good news is that since selling Superquinn, Feargal Quinn has had an ongoing and distinguished career as a statesman in the Irish Senate, and also has a TV program in which he advises small Irish businesses about how to be more competitive. So the chain that bears his name may be going away, but the Quinn magic lives on.