A fresh space
Bank of Ireland is on a mission to help retailers get the best out of their business, by accompanying them every step of the way from conception to re-opening the doors and beyond. Sligo Centra owner Des Cosgrove recounts his journey from tired deli to futuristic destination
27 June 2018
All year round, retailers are keeping an eye on all their segments, exploring what works and what doesn’t, and taking appropriate action when necessary. In the case of retailer Des Cosgrove, the need for change manifested itself when he began to notice shrinking profits in the deli section of his Centra store in Maugheraboy, Co. Sligo.
“Through working with consumer panels,” Cosgrove recalls, “we found that the age profile of our customer had dropped. In particular, we established certain things that made us decide the shop was in real need of change.
“For example,” he says, “we saw that women weren’t using the deli counter any more. As well as that, parents – male and female – have become more health-conscious and so were not using the counters. In short, the deli simply wasn’t delivering.”
Through further research, he and his team were able to understand the cause of this fall-off; the store didn’t have the range that customers had become accustomed to through other stores. “The trend started in Dublin and has now spread across the country,” he says. “The customer is expecting more.
“A lot of this was confirming what we already suspected,” Cosgrove continues. “We saw something similar when I took over the store 12 or 13 years ago. I learned that as the generations of your customers move on, so do their thought processes and you have to move on too. The revitalisation of your premises is vital, because it’s going to cost you one way or another.”
It was at this time that the retailer decided it was time to give his 7,200sq ft store a total makeover.
In due course, and following close consultation with Musgrave, the entire Centra Maugheraboy store was revamped from top to bottom. “We spent just over €1m,” Cosgrove says. “We replaced the entire ceiling and floor and everything in between. In doing that, there was one fundamental difference, and that is we took the deli from the back of the shop and moved it right up to the front, so it’s the first thing you see in the door.
“In essence,” he adds, “we created a fresh food lane, and adjusted the flow of the store to capture customers’ attention with fresh produce much earlier when they come in.”
In adding a significant amount of floor space, Cosgrave says that did come at the cost of some grocery space, which caused other categories to take a hit, but it was a worthwhile trade-off.
“The deli and our whole fresh space is growing every weekend,” he says. “We are getting so much out of our Green Kitchen, healthy soups and sandwiches and so on.”
As the original research predicted, that customer profile transformed overnight with the evolution of the deli. Des Cosgrove says he is thrilled with the results, and stresses that his relationship with Bank of Ireland is what made it possible.
In speaking of Bank of Ireland, Cosgrove explains how he was seeking a partnership that would facilitate him to grow his business over the coming years. “I was with another bank for a number of years before that,” he recalls, “and despite us being a profitable company they simply weren’t in ‘the lending mind’.”
Eventually, he was able to move banks and after meeting with Bank of Ireland, and discussing a proposal, things were finally able to start moving. “They understood our categories and our expectations, and were able to make their own proposals, which was brilliant from my point of view.”
Another crucial element was the manner in which Bank of Ireland understood the store’s ongoing daily needs as retailers, Cosgrove adds. “That is ultimately why we went with them,” he says, “and the partnership has been superb.”
As for the future, Cosgrove says he is thrilled with how the Maugheraboy store is working now, and the optimism among retailers, consumers and indeed banks is a lesson to everyone. “We’ve all learned a lot over the past ten years,” he says, “so it’s time to be positive and move on. If you sit and wait, you might regret it. I didn’t want to wait any longer, which is why I moved banks.
“There’s work to do everywhere,” he adds, “but we’re very excited.”