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'We have lost a giant of the retail world': Tributes paid to Superquinn founder Feargal Quinn

The supermarket founder was also a Senator for 23 years.

FILE PHOTO Superquinn founder and former senator Feargal Quinn has died aged 82 END Feargal Quinn pictured in one of his stores. Source: RollingNews.ie

FORMER SENATOR AND businessman Feargal Quinn has died at the age of 82.

Quinn was best known as the founder of supermarket chain Superquinn, later becoming a TV personality in RTÉ’s Fergal Quinn’s retail therapy.

He was a member of the Seanad for 23 years being elected through the National University of Ireland.

Superquinn was founded in 1960 when Quinn was just 23 years old and it was owned by the Quinn family before being sold to a consortium in 2005.

Superquinn later went into receivership in 2011 and was later bought by the Musgrave group. In 2014 Ireland’s 24 Superquinn stores were rebranded as SuperValu.

The Superquinn brand was associated with high-quality Irish produce and its success saw Quinn become on of Ireland’s most famous entrepreneurs.

President Higgins pays tribute

Reacting to the news, the President of Ireland Michael D Higgins said it is with great sadness that he heard of the passing of Feargal Quinn.

“Feargal was a gifted entrepreneur, whose vision of customer service and innovation transformed the landscape of the retail trade in Ireland over many decades. As a lifelong supporter of small businesses and start-up companies, countless numbers of people benefited from his wise counsel, which was based on a highly successful career at the coalface of Irish business,” said the president, adding:

He will be deeply missed not just by his family and wide circle of friends, but also by those who served in the Seanad with him, where he will be remembered as a force for change, as a passionate advocate on business and related matters, and as an eloquent debater.
He was renowned for his courteous contributions and responses to both supporters and opponents. Sabina and I would like to extend my condolences to his wife Denise, to his children and grandchildren, and to his many friends.

In a statement, members of the Independent Alliance said it noted with great sadness the passing “of their friend and former colleague Feargal Quinn”.

Quinn was the first chairman of the Independent Alliance in 2015. Its members said his “personal integrity, drive and enthusiasm were central to its success in the 2016 General Election and subsequent entry into government”.

The statement added:

As a businessman he became famous for pioneering a customer focused service model and he carried this approach into his political career where he campaigned relentlessly, and effectively, on behalf of many deserving causes.

Refusing to take a salary

It noted that in 2014, he revealed that since his first election to Seanad Eireann in 1993, he had donated his entire salary to charity and later had refused to accept any salary at all.

“This gesture was typical of a true gentleman who we were privileged to know and who will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with his wife Denise and the other members of his family at this sad time,” added the statement.

Those from the supermarket industry and business world have also paid tribute to Quinn, with Chris Martin, CEO Musgrave Group stating that “as the founder of Superquinn, Feargal was a visionary in Irish food and a retail pioneer”.

“Beyond the world of retail, Feargal made a significant and lasting contribution to Irish society and to political life as a member of Seanad Eireann. He was a leader who will be deeply missed. Feargal was also a good friend to Musgrave and on behalf of everyone here, I would like to share our condolences with his family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time,” said Martin. 

Ibec CEO Danny McCoy said:

Feargal will be remembered as pioneer of Irish retail, a dedicated Senator and strong advocate of Irish business at home and internationally. He left a very significant and positive mark on Irish life.
In his role as President of EuroCommerce he was the voice of European retail, commanding the respect and support of the sector right across Europe.  His tenacity and skill in business was matched by a sense of duty and dedication in his public roles.

‘Giant of the world of retail’

Meanwhile, Retail Excellence Group stated: 

We have lost a giant of the world of retail.

The group’s CEO, David Fitzsimons, said “today we have lost a giant of the world of retail, a treasure trove of knowledge and advice and an enthusiastic supporter of aspiring retail leaders and entrepreneurs. Feargal’s family can be justly proud of his achievements and his lasting legacy”.

“I had the distinct privilege of knowing Feargal and, in 2007, presenting him with a well-deserved lifetime achievement award – just one of three presented in the history of our annual awards,” added Fitzsimons

“My condolences and that of all of the team and members of Retail Excellence go out to Denise, their five children Eamonn, Stephen, Gillian, Donal and Zoe as well as Feargal’s 19 grandchildren and wide circle of friends at this sad time,” Fitzsimons concluded.

With reporting by Christina Finn 

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Rónán Duffy

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