Getting back to basics

Ben Scally's Centra of Ardan Road, Tullamore, Co Offaly, provides an excellent example of how a store should be efficiently run
Ben Scally's Centra of Ardan Road, Tullamore, Co Offaly, provides an excellent example of how a store should be efficiently run

2011 will entail retailers having to work hard to make a living, not a fortune, says ShelfLife editor Fionnuala Carolan.



18 January 2011

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Happy New Year to one and all. After a very tough December, it was hoped that we could leave all that hardship behind us and start 2011 with renewed vigour and positivity. However within the first few days of the new year the bad news started to seep out again. From the dissolution of the Irish Daily Star Sunday, the closure of Superquinn Naas and Celtic Bookmakers going into receviership it seemed like things were getting worse rather than better.

While it is generally accepted at this stage that there is no magic solution to restore economic activity to 2005/2006 levels there is a new resolve within the trade about survival and exploring new ways to engage customers and offer the best service possible.

Anyone who got into grocery retailing in the good times to make a quick buck are either closing their doors or struggling severely. You’ve got to love this trade in order for your business to survive let alone flourish.

This issue features the winners from the 2010 ShelfLife C-Store Awards that took place in December. The overall winner was Centra, Ardan Road, Tullamore Co Offaly. If you have any doubts about what your store should look like you might want to visit this store. After speaking to the owner, Ben Scally, it’s apparent that you need to have a  huge amount of passion and a critical eye to run a sucessful store. Having a great store doesn’t come about through carrying out costly revamps or being open 24 hours a day. Getting the small things right is more beneficial. Everyone is now aware that the customer is chasing value so that is the first thing to get right. Having well advertised special offers will entice the customer in.

It’s also important to keep things fresh for your customers by constantly reviewing the layout of the shop. Does a certain area now deserve more space than before? Scally says that he makes changes to his store every year without spending a lot of money. It can be something as small as extending two aisles into one to create more space in the fresh foods area so consumers will spend more time browsing these high margin products.

Although things are extremely tough for many at the moment it is possible to survive in this climate and run a sucessful business but you must convince your customers that your store is relevant to their needs and that of the local community. Adjusting to this new environment of working hard to make a living as opposed to working hard to make a fortune is a struggle for many. If you can’t accept that, you will likely have a very tough year ahead.  

Fionnuala Carolan



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