Giving a little bit Moore
Moore’s Costcutter in Hospital, County Limerick has been faring well since completing its recent revamp, reports Fionnuala Carolan
15 December 2010
Retailer: Micheal Moore
Size: 1,700 sq ft
Staff: six full time; 15 part time
The Moore family have been trading in Hospital for the past 27 years. Four years ago their son Thomas came back from working in Superquinn to take over the reins and manage a redesign and just a few weeks they had their official launch.
The original store was bought back in 1982 and was just 400 sq ft. Thomas’ mother, Mary Moore sold her drapery shop down the street and put the money into an extension for the shop which brought it up to 1,000 sq ft. The last revamp was carried out in 1998 so the time had come to freshen things up once again. The latest extension brings it up to 1,700 sq ft and the Moores bought three bungalows to the rear of the shop to extend into. The family traded as independents for the first few years, were under the Spar tree for ten years before moving to Costcutter and have been with the Barry Group franchise ever since.
The condition for taking over the store from his parents was for Thomas to go away for a few years to learn the trade. He joined Superquinn and spent over five years working in various Superquinn stores around the country. “I went off to Superquinn at 18. I started off working in Clonmel for two years of just general trading on the floor and then I began the Manager’s course in Naas. I spent time in Superquinn Finglas and the new store in Limerick and after that I was transferred back to Clonmel as a manager.” Thomas says that this five years gave him a great start and good understanding of the trade. “My parents had said to me that if I wanted to come home to the business I had to go off and work in either Dunnes, Tesco or Superquinn to get training and it was good advice.”
He rejoined the family business four years ago after spending two years in hospital with bad health and undergoing three major operations. When he was back to full health his parents started to take a step back. His mum still does some office work and his dad helps cover lunchtimes but aside from that they leave the running of the business to Thomas as promised.
The latest revamp took six months but it was six months of hard slog according to Thomas. “We were all stressed out to the last. For the last week I was working from 7am in the morning until 2/3am to get this open. We had knocked the three buildings behind the shop and then we closed off different parts of the store while the other was being finished. Suddenly it was a supermarket as opposed to a convenience store. We added an off-licence which has added a lot to the shop.”
Adding the off-licence was a good move as they benefit from the strong buying power of the Barry Group due to its acquisition of the Carry out off-licence business. Although there are two off-licences in the village Thomas regards them as lucky because they’re far away from any of the multiples who can afford to sell alcohol at rock bottom prices.
The best made plans
The planning of the new look store took two and a half years due to objections from a handful of people in the area to the demolishing of three bungalows behind the shop. Thomas believes that was done purely to prevent any change in the town. “People went to great lengths saying we were destroying the archeological look of the town and we were changing the view of the street scape but I think some people are just scared of change.” However the majority of people are delighted with the changes as it is most definitely an addition to the look of the town. Parking was often a problem for their customers so they also added on a car park for 27 cars at the back of the building.
Despite being in a small town Moore’s opening hours reflect that of a city centre convenience store. The shop is open from 7am to 10pm every day of the week and it takes six full timers and 15 part timers to run it. “I took on two more part timers and one full timer since the revamp as we are watching the wage bill and we can’t afford to be going too mad.” Manager of the store Mike O’ Shea has been with the Moores for the last 16 years. He started off packing shelves but was made manager while Thomas was still at school. “He’s been putting up with us for the past 16 years! We’d be lost without him as he’s honest as the day is long and he’s there early morning until late at night and never looks at his watch. You can have a life when Mike is around as you can switch off and know that he is looking after everything. He has done numerous courses on health and safety and employment law and business so he’s extremely capable.”
After working in stores the size of Superquinn it was a big change for Thomas to come back to managing a 1,700 sq ft store. He was keen to update the business and make it as efficient as possible. “When I came back all the systems were 12 years old and they were all failing and the checkouts and fridges were falling apart. Now since the revamp is finished everything is brand new and working like clockwork. It’s like going back to the way I had it in Superquinn but on a smaller scale.”
He also had to get used to Costcutter’s three week promotional cycle and being proactive in letting his customers know about it. “It’s all about leaflets now to show your promotions. We did a drop of 3,000 leaflets here just before the official opening and it was very effective. Limerick radio station Live ‘95 came to play at the opening between 3-5pm and Irish international rugby star Marcus Horan came to sign autographs for over an hour. We’ve had great help from Costcutter over the opening with merchandising and overall guidance.”
Very few businesses have carried out revamps in the past two years but Thomas believes it was a good time to do it because building works have become cheaper. “Builders will give much cheaper quotes these days so if you can get the money from the banks it’s actually a lot cheaper to carry out work now. We had a good business plan put together and the bank knows we are good customers.” Costcutter is known for its affordable revamps. Gone are the days of spending over €100,000. The Moores spent just €12,000 and have done a wonderful job. Jerry Burke, area manager for Costcutter drew up a plan but it was up to Thomas to decide which companies to use for refrigeration, shopfitting and scanning systems.
All worth it in the end
Proving that all the hard work was not in vain many of the customers have congratulated Thomas on the shop and one woman even told him that his prices were great and asked him to try to keep them like that. “We get nearly 40 promotional items on a leaflet every three weeks from Costcutter. For example you have 10kg potatoes down there for €3.99. The Christmas offers have been coming in over the last month. We have Cadbury Roses and Quality Street for €5.99, selection boxes two for €4 and tins of Victoria Biscuits for €7.99. We also have good wine like Gallo and First Cape on offer for €5.99.”
The finished product
The shop will only close one day of the year and that’s Christmas day. At the moment they are taking orders for Christmas turkeys and hams. “We’ll be cooking turkeys and hams for people in the run up to Christmas. It depends on the weight but it would cost about €20/€25 for a cooked turkey”.
After all the hard graft Thomas is finally happy with the look and feel of the shop and wants to maintain the store to the high standard it’s now at. “The place now looks like we want it to look. It’s all on my shoulder as my parents washed their hands of it. The local community were delighted to see a new business coming into the town and hopefully business will continue to do well.”