Symbol Group Special: Gala
Gala’s unique relationship with its retailers is what makes it stand out in the field, says regional operations manager Billy Massey
10 August 2017 | 0
Symbol group: Gala Retail
HQ: Summit House, Embassy Office Park, Kill, Co. Kildare
Distribution network: 13 ambient depots, central billing, chilled distribution
Number of stores: 175
Colours: Green & white
Tagline: ‘Your Local Market’
Average store size: 1,750 sq ft
Wholesale partner: Gala wholesaler members
Since it was established in 1998, Gala has time and again proved itself to be a progressive and forward-thinking symbol group, challenging conventions on the Irish retail market. Over those two decades, Gala stores have become well-known for their high quality, their levels of service to customers and the range of choice in-store.
Another noted element in Gala’s ongoing journey is the unique relationship it has with its retailers, which Billy Massey, retail operations manager at Gala Retail describes as one of partnership.
“Within the group,” Massey says, “Gala retailers retain their independence, as they are the ones who know their community best. Gala combines this invaluable local knowledge with head office expertise, providing service and support from a team and network of prominent wholesalers. This joint approach and the flexibility this affords has been a key reason why Gala retailers are in partnership with this symbol group for the long haul.
The local whole
Rather than take the centralised approach to wholesaling that other groups go with, Gala has a network of wholesalers operating throughout Ireland, ensuring that stores are supplied regularly. “In addition to this approach,” says Massey, “our chilled distribution model ensures our retailers have access to the ranges that customers want.”
This has dramatically changed the way Gala retailers do business in terms of stock availability, frequency of deliveries, product offering and promotions. “We have been actively working on new in-store offerings including Baker’s Corner,” Massey says, “which has proven to be popular with all of our retailers, as well as concepts like Coffee Junction, Gala’s own coffee offering.” Gala values feedback from its retailers in order to ensure that as a group and a network of stores, it provides the support and solutions that deliver for store owners. “The Gala Retail Council regularly visits stores throughout the country to keep up to date with retailers’ requirements,” says Massey, “and any feedback from retailers is noted and discussed in Retail Council meetings, where the idea or suggestion and the benefits it can offer to the retailers is evaluated.”
Challenges of online
The internet is continuing to change the way people spend and shop, with even bigger changes set to take hold in the coming years. Gala says it has been monitoring this uptake in communications among consumers and retailers alike, and over the past number of years has made a concerted effort to maximise its presence in these areas.
“Gala’s Facebook page has gained 133,000 followers in a short space of time,” says Massey, “and is a great platform for us to communicate offers, deals and information on our marketing and charity partnerships.
“We have also recently invested in a new corporate website,” he says, “which houses a secure retailer login area where retailers can go online and find everything they need to help run their store successfully including a retailer toolbox, ideas to maximise sales, information on new concepts and our weekly offers.”
Gala also communicates with retailers via a weekly newsletter that keeps everyone up to date on group news.
Uncertainty in the business environment is not beneficial to any sector and over years Gala has faced its fair share of challenges. “Presently,” says Massey, “the challenge and implications of Brexit loom, and there is no doubt we’ll all feel the repercussions of Brexit as it becomes clearer how the changes to the economy, tourism and more will impact on retailers through the effect on product costs and pricing.
“At Gala,” Massey adds, “we will be continuing to look at new ways that retailers can streamline margins by providing the support and services that retailers need and introducing new concepts and offerings that will drive footfall and increase sales, enabling them to deliver superior convenience retailing to communities across Ireland.”