Costcutter: Q&A with Edwina Lucey, sales director, Barry Group
Edwina Lucey, sales director for the Cork retail group, outlines the company's "proud to be local" ethos and plans to further develop its advancing fresh offering.
26 August 2019 | 0
What are the main values that your symbol group channels through its retailers and their stores?
True to the nature of Barry Group, our values permeate through all of our symbol brands. For Costcutter, local and community involvement are at the core of what we do. As a brand, we truly are ‘proud to be local’. We partner with local businesses to offer a competitive and immersive shopping environment within communities. However, local doesn’t stop at having the brand present for us. We strive for our retailers to be active members in their communities, and for them to make a true impact. Another key value that we abide by is inclusivity. While local is an important value and pillar of the brand, we want Costcutter to stand for something. We must think beyond the transactional nature of the convenience sector and give our customers an opportunity to understand and connect with the brand. By applying the principle of inclusivity as an additional key value, it makes Costcutter accessible to all. We champion for inclusivity and for everyone to feel welcome in our Costcutter stores nationwide. We have some fantastic initiatives and marketing campaigns coming in the near future to celebrate this message. Lastly, an additional value that deserves a mention is ‘less promise, more purpose’. We believe that every move that we and our retailers make must be grounded in truth and honesty. What really matters isn’t what or how brands do, but why. We strive to always have a strong ‘why’ and to make sure that any decision we make is customer centric and we can stand by the outcome proudly.
Wholesaling is a key part of the relationship between retailer and symbol group. How does your group maintain and promote this area of the business?
Our 150,000sq ft central warehouse services all our customers’ ambient, alcohol and chill needs. We own and manage our own fleet of trucks which ensure that we have full control of our service level. This is accompanied by an incredibly high standard of customer service. To maintain this, communication is key. Our retailers have constant access to our dedicated team across all elements of our business including sales, inside sales, marketing, and logistics just to name a few. We are aware that this is not standard industry practice, but it is something that we pride ourselves on. The promotion of this service really does come down to our exemplary levels of accuracy. They are the best endorsement for our business. As part of our service offering, we measure accuracy and set the business key targets to meet. Due to the centralisation of our warehouse and distribution we have complete control here and this is a key asset to the business.
More and more, symbol groups are pivoting towards a broader and more comprehensive fresh offering than ever before. What is the catalyst for this change?
Consumers in general have become more health conscious and have taken the time to selfeducate on the best and most beneficial choice and are now making informed nutritional decisions for themselves. We truly welcome this change and see a clear benefit for us and our retailers to this change in society. Over the past two years, we have dedicated time and investment into establishing a new in-store fresh offering. From the deli perspective alone, we have two fresh food offerings that go beyond the standard deli. We have Market St Deli which is our premium deli that offers fresh food comprised of high-quality deli options. This has been well received by both retailers and consumers alike. We also have The Salad Patch which is another fresh component to our store offering. This concept is an innovative salad offering which is prepared in front of the consumer according to their own bespoke needs. We also ensure that prepacked meals for lunch and dinner are freshly prepared in our deli. People appreciate good food and that is a key reason why these offerings have been so profitable for retailers.
One of the main concerns among retailers in 2019 is soaring insurance premiums. Where does your symbol group stand on this issue?
Our dedicated national account management team is working with our retailers and focusing on methods of reducing risk in-store and streamlining business processes. On a national scale, we feel obliged to highlight the topic in the political sphere and offer a platform for not only our Costcutter retailers, but for retailers nationwide, offering them a voice. With such fundamental issues we are stronger united, and we will keep working to optimise business practice in the convenience sector.
What are the other challenges facing the business?
At a national level, we are working in a competitive landscape and successfully holding our ground. We will never become complacent here and will always stay focused. At a local level, there are challenges which are very real and affecting the success of local businesses. Staff retention, the cost of doing business and extra legislative burdens are key issues facing businesses in general. I do think that these challenges will continue to grow, but the best way of counteracting them is to be proactive and operate to the highest of standards. Our aim is to concentrate on building relationships with our customers and securing a future for them while ensuring that they are profitable in the long run. Another considerable challenge is the growing uncertainty around Brexit. We are fully engaged with all our supply chain partners to ensure as seamless an outcome as possible for all our customers. We will continue to take key challenges head on, grow our business, build our brand and remain an outstanding player in the sector.