A United Ulster Market

Good to see small divisions between Ulster shops either side of the border are going.

Tesco has repriced international brand groceries at 11 of its stores in border counties in a fightback against cross-border shopping.

The company says the stores will carry the same groceries, however they will be sourced from the UK rather than through local Irish distributors because of new international purchasing arrangements.

Tesco does not disclose its profits for Ireland but there seems little doubt its border county stores have been losing out to supermarkets north of the border.

Traditionally, Tesco relies on Irish distributors and agents to import international brand groceries, such as breakfast cereals, cleaning products and toiletries.

But, with the strong euro, Tesco has decided it can stock the same goods but for cheaper, sourcing from the UK.

It is expected that more of the company’s 116 Irish stores are set to move in the same direction.

The concern is that Irish produce, and the estimated 50,000 jobs it supports, will face much stiffer competition on Tesco shelves from cheaper imported equivalents.

Paul Kelly of Food and Drink Industry Ireland said the move would mean job losses and Irish products would not be as prominent on supermarket shelves.

Tesco denies it is cutting ties with Irish producers and says today’s initiative is about its Irish customers.

Tesco Ireland Chief Executive Tony Keohane said that when currency costs and travel and journey times are taken into account, many customers will find it cheaper to shop south of the border.

Mr Keohane said today’s initiative will enable Tesco to compete in the long term with prices in Northern Ireland.

Fair play, good to see the spirit the brits forged during the blitz is alive and well