The British grocery retailer Tesco is poised to enter the Irish market with a proposed takeover of Quinnsworth, Crazy Prices and Stewarts supermarkets.

Owned by Associated British Foods (ABF), Quinnsworth/Crazy Prices is the largest supermarket chain in Ireland, controlling some 25% of the retail grocery market share in the Republic. Combined with the Stewarts/Crazy Prices chain in the North, they account for £1.5 billion of sales on both sides of the border.

ABF has intimated it wants to leave the retail food sector, giving Tesco an opportunity to get a foothold in the Irish market. As Quinnsworth/Crazy Prices employs more than 7,000 workers across 67 outlets in Ireland, John Douglas of the Mandate Trade Union is seeking clarification from ABF and expects

Existing terms and conditions of employment and employment levels themselves will be maintained

His members will also be seeking information and consultation after the takeover has taken place.

It is thought Quinnsworth/Crazy Prices could be valued at ten times its profits, approximately £600 million. Mary Brophy, editor of the grocery trade magazine, 'Checkout' believes Tesco will be a strong competitive force in the Irish market.

I think the other stores Dunnes and Superquinn would certainly have to look to their laurels if Tesco entered.

If the takeover goes ahead Irish suppliers will be worried about their futures as there are no guarantees Tesco will renew their contracts.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 19 March 1997. The reporter is Peter Cluskey.