Big in Ballincollig!
A strong legacy of retailing in the family and a healthy store network meant the time was perfect for Cormac Quish to take another firm step in the growing business. That move was made possible with the guidance and assistance of Bank of Ireland
27 November 2018 | 0
Many retailers out there have grown up in the trade, starting their careers helping out in stores founded by their parents or even their grandparents. For Cormac Quish, his connection to the industry is arguably more than most, having moved around constantly in his youth, alongside his father Sean Quish, who was one of a group of executives who, in the 1980s and 1990s helped build the historic company into the industry leader it is today. Sean was deputy CEO of Musgrave when he finished up with the company in 1996; it was around this time that the company was expanding into Spain. He declined to head up that project, instead starting a new chapter as a day-to-day retailer in a new SuperValu store in Tramore, Co. Waterford.
“It’s quite common,” Cormac Quish tells ShelfLife of his dad’s lateral career move. “Michael Smith in Kinsale did the same thing – he was a former sales director for SuperValu. There are loads.”
Bank of Ireland’s strength comes from the fact that it has made an effort to bring in people with an understanding of the different sectors
Peak of the boom
As for Cormac himself, as we have seen, he grew up on the front lines of Musgrave’s growth, including the takeover of H. Williams in 1987 and the company’s overseas expansion in the mid-90s. Later, while the Quish group grew steadily, he studied law and worked as a barrister in Dublin, before joining his father’s company full-time in 2007.
“We came in at the peak of the boom,” he recalls, “or maybe it was the peak of the recession. Whatever you call it, it was all downhill from there!” At that time, the family was opening a Tesco in Tramore, Co. Waterford. “There was no competition in the area at the time,” Quish says, “other than a couple of small stores on the seafront. So while we were going full bore at that, I went to live in Tramore and get the business through the recession.”
Being the best
“Getting the business through the recession” has been something of a mantra among retailers we’ve spoken to in recent years, but it’s pleasing now to see that investment is up; new and revamped stores are commonplace, and Bank of Ireland has been on hand to assist retailers with their plans since then. By 2013, Quish was splitting his time between the Tramore store and Ballincollig, Co. Cork, which was turning into something of a retail battleground. It was then that the first of two Quish’s SuperValu stores in the town got off the ground, and Cormac and his team started really focusing on providing the best offering possible. “We’re always trying to be the best in our bakeries, cheese counters and so on,” Quish says. “We have our own kitchens that just won gold at Blas nahÉireann.”
Central second location
Skip on another few years to today, and Quish’s main focus for much of this year has been the acquisition of a second store in Ballincollig. While smaller than the group’s other stores at just 7,500sq ft, it is in a key location in the bustling town, in close proximity to the Dell facility, which employs thousands. Once the deal was done, however, the work was just beginning.
“When we took over the store in February,” Quish recalls, “it had been in the same family for 100 years, and was very dated.
“We’ve since invested a huge amount of time and money in updating the store,” he adds, revealing that the investment amounted to a cool l1.3m getting it to the high standard it is at now. That investment, Quish points out, would not have been possible without the strong and longstanding relationship with Bank of Ireland.
“We stayed with them throughout the recession,” he recalls. “As a bank, it does relationship management very well. People like Owen Clifford [head of retail convenience], John McAllen [head of business banking, Munster area] and Helen Leahy [senior relationship manager, Waterford and Tipperary] have all been more than helpful and efficient in everything they’ve done for us in terms of purchasing the place.”
Quish points out that the family financed the revamp on its own basis, but that BOI was “quick to offer”, and also assisted in getting an ATM installed in the new store – one of many new footfall-driving initiatives.
“Bank of Ireland’s strength comes from the fact that it has made a conscious effort to bring people in with an understanding of the different sectors,” Quish adds. “The benefit of that has been tangible for a lot of people.”
Since the revamp, Quish’s SuperValu Ballincollig has performed extremely well on all fronts, especially fresh and takeaway food. It boasts one of the biggest salad bars in the entire group and the store is also shifting what Quish calls “a scary amount of doughnuts”, illustrating the growing prevalence of healthy and indulgent trends.
“It’s been great for sales,” he says, “and the impression of SuperValu in the town.”