Cork start-up Market Hub powers big data revolution in UK retail

26 Feb 2016

The young Cork company enables retailers to drive dynamic pricing based on real-time insights gathered from the point of sale

Big data is coming to the aisles and shelves of supermarkets across the UK thanks to the efforts of an enterprising young start-up in Cork called Market Hub.

Market Hub, which is based at the Rubicon accelerator in Cork, uses electronic shelf labels coupled with big data analytics software to help small and medium-sized retailers to compete against online and larger competitors.

The data allows stores to tweak prices in real-time, helping stores to increase sales and reduce food waste, particularly in their baked goods, fruit and vegetables and dairy produce sections. This helps prevent retailers getting caught up in the race to the bottom and instead get a return on their investment.

Future Human

The technology is currenty being used in major retail stores such as Spar and Pro Direct Sports in the UK.

“One of the biggest challenges we see with data, especially when it comes to retail, is how they use it on the floor,” explains Market Hub founder Roy Horgan.

“We believe that big data somewhat struggles to make an impact on the shop floor in terms of alerting retailers to challenges in terms of profitability and avoiding losses through discounting.”

The detail in retail


Horgan is a member of the Horgan’s Delicatessen clan, a distributor based in Cork for over 40 years, which has given him an invaluable insight into the retail industry.

“We fundamentally understand what goes on in terms of supply chain. We literally saw sales and discounting destroy business across the country for many suppliers.

“The key here is to help retailers generate profits, but waste and discounting aren’t good for either consumers or retailers.

“If retailers cannot keep waste at below 1pc they die.”

Market Hub’s technology was developed by ex Kerry Plc technologists Chris Quinn and Dan McSweeney.

Market Hub’s technology connects into the point-of-sale (POS) systems of major retailers and, based on buying trends in real-time, the system provides retailers with predictive analysis of what will fill baskets.

“We have some 8,000 POS integrations in the UK with more and more coming on stream.”

Market Hub has raised €400,000 to date and is backed by private and corporate investors. Key shareholders include retail industry veteran Tony Keohane, who is former CEO and chairman of Tesco Ireland, and SES Imagotag, a publicly-listed global retail industry equipment supplier.

All of Market Hub’s development is done in Cork while Horgan spends his time in the UK dealing directly with retailers.

“The next generation of shoppers will expect different experiences from today. I don’t see online winning and I don’t see bricks and mortar winning. But one thing for sure is that retailers will need a lot more information in order to react to trends even before they happen.”

Grocery shopping image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years