UK supermarket chain Sainsbury's has no plans to expand into the Republic of Ireland, according to trading director Mike Coupe. Instead the company is sticking to the UK market as it tries to turn its fortunes around, the Irish Independent newspaper said.

Speaking at a conference run by the Irish food board Bord Bia, he said there were big opportunities for Irish suppliers as the chain is aiming to grow its supermarket sales by €3.7bn (US$4.3bn) over the next three years.

Irish companies already supply Sainsbury's with €430m of groceries a year, €250m of which is produced directly in Ireland, mostly meat and ready meals, the paper said.

Coupe said that Irish companies who wanted to supply Sainsbury's should draw up joint business plans, share information via the web, stick to jointly agreed performance indicators, and target profit growth ahead of sales.

He said the Irish grocery market was likely to become much competitive, thanks to the ending of the Groceries Order, which will force a new level of change.