Small in relation to most multiples, Irish supermarket group Superquinn is relying on strategic alliances to defend its position. The group is soon to launch a new petrol forecourt format in cooperation with Texaco, and will move into central distribution with Wincanton Logistics from October.

Deputy Chairman Eamonn Quinn also shared a few in-store innovations with delegates at last week's Institute of Grocery Distribution Global Retailing Conference. Greater convenience wins customers, and the group has implemented a number of unusual steps to keep customers loyal.

In the fresh produce department, for example, a handy pair of scissors is provided for customers to cut bunches of grapes to their preferred size. Similarly, a mini hacksaw is provided next to the broccoli for customers to slice off the stalks. While this does increase customer convenience, Quinn did not address the safety aspect of providing scissors and saws in stores frequented by young families.

However, he later explained to that the cutting equipment for broccoli and grapes is subject to strict safety measures. It is fastened to chains and positioned at a high level, in a steel slot. In the ten years since the tools were introduced into Superquinn stores, there have been no accidents.