The chain is run by Musgrave, the Irish food wholesaler, however the stores are all owned by individual franchisees. The chain has three different formats available to franchisees — smaller Quick Stop outlets, mid-sized Foodmarkets, and larger Supermarkets. The majority of the stores however follow the Quick Stop format (or are simply branded Centra), as Musgrave also offers the SuperValu format, which is geared towards larger supermarkets. There are currently around 458 Centra stores in the Republic of Ireland and 120 in Northern Ireland. In 2002, Centra's turnover was €652.6 million.
Centra's main competitors are Gala, Spar, Mace and Londis, as well as a number of smaller groups such as Costcutter and XL Stop and Shop.
The chain was originally launched in the Republic of Ireland as "VG" in 1960. In 1979, the VG chain was rebranded SuperValu with the smaller outlets subsequently rebranded as Centra. The company brought both of these stores to Northern Ireland, the latter through the acquisition and subsequent rebranding of Wellworths stores.