Below-cost selling an ‘insult’ says Laois retailer

Laois-based retailer Clelands’ supermarkets has informed its customers that it will not ‘insult’ the farming community by selling below-cost produce.

Its statement follows an accusation of ‘gross hypocrisy’ levelled at Marks & Spencer’s by IFA president Joe Healy for slashing the price of fresh produce which he said was below the cost of production.

“We are just informing our customers that we will not insult the farming community by selling the product they work so hard to produce for less than production costs,” Alex Cleland told AgriLand following a Facebook post by the retailer.

It has supermarkets in Abbeyleix and Portlaoise, with a midlands presence stretching back to 1984.

We believe that selling fresh produce for less than it costs to produce gives the consumer the impression that the farmers are deliberately charging more than they should for the product.

“Therefore, we will not entertain such irresponsible retailing even if it means we lose sales in the short-term,” Alex said.

“I know a few farmers who lost their farms because of below-cost selling – they just couldn’t take the hit,” he said.

“We are independent for a reason – if you are part of the symbol groups, everything is dictated to you. You’re very limited in what you can do. Here, we have total control,” said Alex.

He said they have had a good few customers applauding their move but stressed that their stance wasn’t taken with that intention.

“Our intention is to show our support for farmers. Reducing price only demeans farmers. Everyone deserves a reward for their work and farmers are no different.”