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Ireland remains, in our minds, one of the best markets globally in which to see food-to-go in retail, and in particular in convenience and forecourts. Here we focus on some of latest best examples we’ve seen in convenience, ahead of our next Dublin safari on May 22.

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We look at the latest news from discount retailer Aldi about future expansion in Ireland and Scotland. We also look at its latest initiatives forming part of its aim to reduce plastic usage.

Expansion in Ireland and Scotland

Aldi has announced plans to open 50 more stores in Ireland in the coming years. The new stores will all be in Southern Ireland. An exact time frame for these openings has not yet been announced. In 2018 the discount retailer opened seven new stores, and refitted four.

The retailer's market share is continuing to grow in Ireland. It was 11.2% in the 12 weeks ending 24 February 2019, growing from 10.9% in the 12 weeks ending 27 January 2019, according to Kantar Worldpanel. The discounters were the best performing retailers over the Christmas period. We explore this further in our discounter update: Ireland article.

Aldi has also said it will be opening five stores in Scotland by the end of 2019.

Plastic-free in Scotland

Aldi is currently trialling going plastic-free on five fruit and vegetable lines in Scotland. The trial will last for six weeks. The retailer estimates it will save half a ton of plastic in this short period of time. It is part of Aldi's aim to be using recyclable, reusable or compostable packing across all its private label products by 2022.

If the trial is successful it will most likely be rolled out across the UK.


Aldi will be removing plastic glitter from 100% of its private label products by 2021. This will start with its 2019 Halloween range and will cover all products such as greetings cards, wrapping paper, decorations and art and craft supplies.

Retailers are continuing to reduce their plastic usage. Waitrose also committed to being plastic glitter free by Christmas 2020. Read more about how other retailers such as Iceland, M&S, Morrison's and more are taking action on plastics.

New banner Aldi 'Local'

Aldi has launched a new banner called Aldi Local in Balham, London. The store is around half the size of a normal Aldi, and carries a reduced range. It was been designed to offer a more convenient shopping experience in the city environment. Read more about this and discounter format evolution here.

Sign-up here to receive our free discount newsletter that will keep you up-to-date about the latest news and developments from Aldi.

We've been in-store in Dublin to explore some of the latest retail/ food-to-go fusion concepts ahead of our April 25 safari.Here are some of the key things we took from our latest set of visits.

BWG - giving SPAR stores a new look and feel

One of the key headlines from our visit was the new look and feel we saw in BWG’s SPAR stores. SPAR Merrion Row, a long time favourite of ours in Dublin, is currently going through an upgrade that will bring many of these new elements. SPAR Shanowen Road is an impressive neighbourhood store, with an broad food-for-now offer, that already has had this treatment, while in SPAR Millennium Walkway we were able to see a food-to-go led concept, embodying the new look and feel, in a food hall style format.  Insomnia coffee featured alongside an impressive deli counter, but in this store the food-to-go proposition was taken further, with a selection of other food-to-go counters, including The Pitta Project.

New food-to-go concepts from Musgrave

We continue to be impressed by the focus from Musgrave on developing new food-to-go capability and brands. Our latest visit took in one store that included Caramico, offering Neapolitan style pizza, and two that included Moo’d premium ice cream. This focus on developing new aspects to the proposition at Centra in particular has stood it in good stead over recent years, and from what we saw, feels set to continue to do so in the future.  This ability to meet many different food-to-go needs is something encapsulated very well by many Centra stores, not least our 2017 Small Store of the Year award winner on Parnell St. 

Further development of coffee

Getting coffee right in-store is often not easy, but our ShopperVista insight shows the wider importance of coffee in many food-to-go missions. Crucially, it also offers a great opportunity to differentiate, but can also be a negative for a retail store or food-to-go specialist if implemented badly, or if the wrong proposition is implemented. 

But in Ireland we see some fantastic examples of convenience stores and forecourts doing an excellent job in coffee. On the forecourt, the likes of Circle K and Applegreen have made their coffee a priority, with sites offering both bean to cup machines and barista, reflecting the different missions and different customer groups.  In convenience stores, the SPAR partnership with coffee shop chain Insomnia is now well-established in many stores, while Musgrave has done an excellent job in developing its own Frank & Honest brand, for barista served coffee on selected sites and bean to cup machines across the wider Centra (and increasingly SuperValu) estate.   

Further forecourt evolution

Irish forecourts, pioneered in particular by Applegreen, have long had a reputation as being some of the best around. And we continue to be impressed by the sophistication and evolution of the offer. Increasingly the quality is such that forecourts are establishing themselves as go to destinations for a variety of different missions, many of which are travel related, but an increasing number of which aren’t. Applegreen’s latest store at Ballymount is a case in point. With a plethora of food options, this site has become a lunchtime destination for the local business park.

The continuing upgrade and enhancement of larger formats

While often the standout reason for any food-to-go visit to Ireland is to see how effectively food-to-go has been integrated into and developed by smaller formats, there’s more inspiration that can be taken from larger format stores as well. Dunnes Stores, for example, has been rolling out an impressive new look and feel to its stores, with a focus on recreating a market hall feel in-store, making features for example out of its butchers, deli and wider counter based offer. Its latest stores also provide a great opportunity to see how it integrates its coffee shop business, Café Sol, into its stores.

Dublin remains a food-to-go market that inspires

Dublin remains one of our go to markets in Europe for food-to-go innovation, offering inspiration in formats, range and capability. If you want your business to be inspired by the best practice in this space that Dublin has to offer, then join us on in Dublin on April 25 on our retail/food-to-go fusion safari – click here for more details and to book your place.

IGD Retail Safaris


Troubled bakery chain Patisserie Valerie has been saved from collapse in a management buyout backed by Irish private equity firm, Causeway Capital Partners.

Future secured for almost 100 stores

Commenting on the deal, Patisserie Valerie CEO, Steve Francis said "The affection and loyalty for the brand among our customers and employees, and Causeway Capital’s enthusiasm and support for the business, creates for us the foundations for an exciting future for the business." 

96 stores and 2,000 jobs will be secured by the deal.

New owner has other cafe interests

Dublin-based Causeway Capital specialises in supporting SMEs and already owns the Bakers + Baristas chain which operates 60 sites in the UK and Ireland.

Other parts of business sold to new owners

Prior to its collapse in January triggered by the discovery of a £40m black hole in its accounts in January Patisserie Valerie operated almost 200 stores and concessions. 71 stores were closed immediately by administrators KPMG while it sought a buyer for the business. The sale of popular cafe brand generated much interest from a number of parties, including Sports Direct. 30 more sites owned by Patisseris Valerie Holdings trading as Philpotts (a catering business for meetings and events) and Baker & Spice have been bought by a different buyer, according to press reports.



Four years on from the launch of its turnaround strategy, Tesco has made substantial progress against its strategic drivers to create long-term and sustainable value for its four key stakeholders – customers, colleagues, suppliers and shareholders. In this report we review how Tesco is delivering against its four strategic drivers and consider its next steps.
Be inspired by the latest store concepts from Ahold Delhaize, 7 Eleven, Casino, SPAR, Musgrave, Coop Schweiz, Co-op and Fresh the Good Food Market. This report covers some of the best examples of food-to-go development in small formats that we've seen in our travels over the past six months.
We look in detail at health & wellness trend to identify the key strategies being adopted right now, look at the focus on plant-based menus, nutritional signposting, freshness and superfoods.
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Key Presentations

For more insight into the Irish grocery market, take a look at our Ireland country presentation.

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