Carry on Carry Out

Jim Barry, MD of The Barry Group
Jim Barry, MD of The Barry Group

Jim Barry, MD of The Barry Group, discusses the Carry Out brand's growth, unfair tax increases on wine and the prospect of minimum unit pricing



11 March 2015

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Carry Out is one of Ireland’s leading specialist off-licence franchises. It first opened its doors in 2003 and since then has grown to 85 stores located nationwide, with ambitious plans by its parent company, The Barry Group, to reach 100 stores and beyond in the coming years.

Carry Out has focused strongly on its own brand development in recent years, now stocking a wide range of their own top selling wines and beers. They are enjoying considerable growth at present with 14 new stores opening during 2014 and with plans to open even more this year.

Jim Barry, MD of Barry Group speaks to ShelfLife about the growth of the business, unfair excise and VAT on wine and the prospect of minimum unit pricing for the market.

coutimageCarry Out has grown to over 85 stores since its establishment in 2003; what have been the key factors/developments that have enabled you to achieve this growth?

We’ve focused strongly on brand development and offering something exclusive to our customers. A lot of our own brand wines and beers for example would be among the best performing products in our stores and we’re very proud of that. We worked hard to develop a brand that retailers and customers trust and that’s really paying off for us now. Brandeberg beer for example would always be among the top selling economy beer in stores while Pontebello Pinot Grigio is now our top selling wine while our own vodka, Barovski is also a very strong performer.  It’s a vital point of difference we can offer the retailer and consumer.

Many Carry Out staff are WSET Wine Academy trained; how important is it that staff can give customers personalised advice in terms of differentiating your brand?

We’re proud of the range of advice Carry Out team members can offer customers. It’s very important that for a product as personalised as wine for example someone can talk to the customer and offer them little pointers here and there to help them. I think it’s vital that a question can be answered about any particular range or a little tip about what works well with different foods for example. It gives our stores another service that we can offer the consumer.

How significantly do you intend to expand in the next three years and how will you achieve your goals?

Well, 2014 was a very big year for us with us adding 14 new stores taking us to over 85 nationwide. We can say with some confidence that we will break through the 100 mark by the end of 2015. After that the sky is the limit, the franchise can keep growing here and we’ve identified many more site locations to accommodate growth and we’re excited about the potential in Carry Out. We’ve established the franchise as the leading independent off-licence brand in the country but for us, there is a lot of room for further growth.

What are your thoughts on the possibility of minimum unit pricing for alcohol being introduced in the Republic of Ireland?

We welcome the likelihood of the minimum unit alcohol pricing being introduced on the basis that the levels are pitched correctly. A well worked model should stop the irresponsible selling policies of some of the large players in the market.

The craft beer sector has become increasingly popular in recent years; how has Carry Out responded to this trend?

Craft beer has become an integral part of the business in the last few years. More and more people are trying different beers from around the world and it’s added an important sector in the market. People are very knowledgeable about their craft beers and we’ve had to respond to that and offer them a range that they are comfortable with. Each of our stores are committed to offering a range of craft beers and there are regular tasting events at our stores around the country.

How significantly have excise increases in recent years affected Ireland’s wines market?

The excise and VAT taken on wine in Ireland is one of the highest levels in Europe which we believe is totally unfair. We believe that wine sales have been hit by excessive taxation and strongly suggest that wine does not get hit with any more increases in excise duty.




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