Daybreak: Q&A with Thomas Morrison, head of retail sales, Musgrave Wholesale Partners

Thomass Morrison says serving the heart of communities across Ireland is Daybreak's ethos

Daybreak aims to live and serve at the hearts of the communities its stores live in across Ireland, through listening to shoppers and bringing them a cutting-edge retail experienc, day after day.

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26 August 2019 | 0

What are the main values that your symbol group channels through its retailers and their stores?

Supporting local is one of Daybreak’s key values. The majority of Daybreak stores are owner-operated, and as such they exist at the heart of the communities they serve and that local knowledge drives everything we do. Supporting local means listening to shoppers and then bringing them a modern shopping experience that really delivers on what they want from a local store. We recently launched an exciting new store design that is delighting shoppers with a fresher, healthier and on-trend offer. These developments came from observing changes in consumer behaviour and then responding with an improved offer that drove shopper satisfaction and retailer returns.

Supporting local is also reflected in our support for local charities. For instance, in July nearly 50 people from the Daybreak group completed ‘Tough Mudder’ to raise much needed funds for the Irish Heart Foundation. Retail excellence is another key, related value. A big focus in Musgrave is supporting Daybreak retailers to continuously raise standards and provide an even better service to their shoppers. One example of this is that we are now actively involved as a group with EIQA. We also run an annual training calendar with retailers, covering topics like food-to-go menu execution, food safety, and margin protection. Our store of the year programme and mystery shopper research programme are other important examples of this ongoing focus on improving the customer experience in-store.

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?

At Musgrave, we pride ourselves on being first for value, first for choice and first for service. These are the pillars on which we continue to provide an exceptional wholesale offer to our Daybreak retailers. As Ireland’s largest retail and foodservice wholesale group, we are able to leverage our unique buying power to bring retailers better everyday pricing and exceptional promotions value. We also support Daybreak retailers to in turn bring their shoppers great value with a regular schedule of consumer offers.

We offer a huge product range – stores have access to nearly 16,000 lines across our network. Retailers enjoy an excellent delivery service from our central distribution facility, plus the added convenience of being able to visit our seven Musgrave MarketPlace branches nationwide to top-up. The experience of the Daybreak team is also central to the success of the brand. All of the Daybreak sales team come from a retail or wholesale background and they use their extensive retail knowledge to give practical business development support to retailers. Daybreak retailers also have access to the knowledge and support of a wider team, including HR, marketing, category management and IT.

More and more, symbol groups are pivoting towards a broader and more comprehensive fresh offering than ever before. From a symbol group’s perspective, what is the catalyst for this change?

Clearly, there has been a significant change in consumer behaviour in recent years. People are eating out much more. The modern-day consumer not only wants quick and convenient service, they want a far wider variety of food options and great
value. They are also becoming more health conscious and are increasingly demanding healthier choices without having to sacrifice on taste. At the same time, some of the categories traditionally associated with convenience retail, like tobacco or newspapers and magazines, have been challenged by new legislation or changing consumer behaviour. Daybreak has responded to these market dynamics with the launch of our new store design, which places an increased emphasis on fresh food and healthier options. Convenience retailers are now effectively in competition with coffee shops and restaurants, so the quality of the food offer, and indeed the overall retail experience, needs to meet the higher expectations of a more discerning consumer. Our new store format is enjoying phenomenal success because we are bringing consumers a unique experience. This includes three exclusive sub-brands – Munch and Co (deli), Lickety Split (icecream) and 9 Grams (coffee). Some of our larger stores also have the Chipmongers traditional takeaway as a concession. We have also dialled up our NPD activity. For example, our current ‘Summer Goodness’ seasonal menu features new signature wraps and salad bowls which are proving a real hit.

One of the main concerns among retailers in 2019 is soaring insurance premiums. Where does your symbol group stand on this issue and the burgeoning campaign to reduce these costs?

Insurance is of course a challenge, but it is not the only one faced by retailers today. Costs in general are rising, including rates and wage costs. A key issue for many stores is also staff recruitment and retention. We support our symbol retailers in a number of ways to meet these challenges. We have, for instance, affinity deals that allow stores to leverage the buying power of being part of a larger group. Cost management and margin protection are ongoing topics in our regular business review meetings with stores, and our business development managers work with stores to drive efficiencies and reduce operating costs wherever possible. And stores also get access to more specialist advice and support from HR on staff related issues.

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