Revamp shakes things up at Gala
Terry Kane, the owner of the Gala store on the Old Burrin Road in Carlow has just finished a revamp on his store. He feels like it has not only revived the store but also his enthusiasm for his business
12 September 2014
Terry and Gayle Kane
Gala, Old Burrin Road, Carlow
Size: 1,300 sq ft
Superquinn has left a great legacy in this country as there is an abundance of ex-Superquinn staff who are now running their own businesses and doing so successfully due to the high standards they learned and the training they received at the hands of Feargal Quinn. Terry Kane is one of these retailers that spent a large chunk of his working life with the group and now runs his own Gala store on the Old Burrin Road in Carlow.
Kane and his wife Gayle have been running this Gala store for over 11 years and have just completed a revamp. He says the main reason they did the revamp was because the deli was old and “needed a bit of freshening up”. Aside from updating the deli they also designed the layout of the store and installed new shelving, fridges and graphics.
Kane says that the revamp has given him back some of the enthusiasm he felt when he first started the business over a decade ago.
“The revamp gave me something to work towards as well as some of the staff. It has created a bit of a buzz. The revamp only took a week. We got new deli fridges in, we got a new counter, changed the shelves around, new hoarding around the outside of the shops. The new Gala spec is very nice. The customers appreciate it too.”
Kane explained that they have recently started to produce their own homemade bread, muffins and scones and they are proving a hit with the customers. “We make our own breads and we display them on a table so you see them when you come in and it looks really well. Gala have helped us with the home-baking. They came in and kicked it off with us.
“The head person in the deli is Eimear Farrell and she’s a baker by trade. Eimear comes in about 6am and she starts it off and we open at 7am. Then she refreshes it again around 11am. People are coming across the town to get them, which we were surprised by. We needed to be doing something a bit different to bring in new customers. We are going to get in fresh meat as well. We are waiting for the chilled wall to be sorted and then we will be receiving all our chilled produce through central distribution. At the moment you can pick up a packet of spaghetti and the bolognese sauce but you can’t pick up the mince so it will be great to be able to sell fresh meat too.”
Kane says that he has found Gala to be very progressive over the years. “The chilled distribution is nearly ready and that will make a big difference to our store. Denny will be gone off the road shortly so it will become harder to get chilled deliveries. We need chilled distribution. We order on our iPads now, which Gala supplied. Gala is younger than the other groups but it is progressing well.”
Terry and his wife Gayle are both ex-Superquinn employees. In fact, this is where the pair met and fell in love.
“I’ve come from a Superquinn background as has my wife so we had good grounding. I think a lot of people from Superquinn have done alright. They always had good standards. You try to carry it forward and pass it on to your staff too. Anyone that compliments us always say that the staff are very good. That’s the first thing they say, ‘your staff are great, very friendly and helpful’.”
Kane worked with Superquinn for 21 years, starting in Superquinn Nass where he was a butcher’s apprentice. He worked his way up to second in charge at Superquinn Sundrive and then when Superquinn opened in Carlow in 1994, he moved here and was appointed as butchery chargehand.
He was later promoted to stock control manager in Superquinn’s warehouse in Blanchardstown. “When I became stock control manager it opened my eyes a little bit to other opportunities and around that time Superquinn was beginning to change and they were getting ready to sell it and they started offering redundancies.”
Starting his business
Kane took up the offer of redundancy and used the money to start this business. His wife is from Carlow so they were happy to stay in the town and it wasn’t long before they found the current premises. “This place was here for two years but it was empty. We lease the shop from the owner of the whole complex. There are four flats upstairs. In 2002 houses started to be built down the road and the area started to build up a bit. It’s quite a residential area now. We have 600 houses just down this road and to the other side there are another 200 houses.
“We have the bypassing traffic too. Before we did the revamp we were a bit lost down here but we put a big sign up down the road and it helps with passing trade. Once someone has pulled in here once and realises there is good parking, they will come again. Business has increased since we did that. Business is up 5% since last year.”
Like most he has to contend with competition on his doorstep as there are a number of large retailers in the vicinity.
“Tesco wasn’t here when we moved in but we knew it was coming. We opened on 25 April, 2003 and Tesco was opening in October 2003 and Aldi opened around then too. But it didn’t make much of a difference because we have a different offering to them. We are more convenience focused and known as the local shop and that’s why we went with Gala too as we felt it suited that model. I think they have one of the best images out there too.”
Deciding to go with Gala over another symbol group came from good experiences of past dealings with Perry’s Cash and Carry, which supplies Gala. “I dealt with Perry’s Cash and Carry a bit in Superquinn,” he explains. “We did check out other groups like Centra but Gary Desmond [Gala CEO] came down and we met him and he really impressed us and Stuart in Perry’s impressed us too.”
Kane talks of the great back up and support he receives from both Tom Hardiman, the retail operations executive with Gala and Perry’s Cash and Carry in Carlow. “Tom is brilliant. I would see him a couple of times a month and it’s great to have someone to talk to, especially when we were going through hard times. Things were hard during the recession and it’s great to get feedback and hear what’s happening in the wider market. You can ask if things are slow for others too or what products are moving well.
“Perry’s is such great back up for us because it is so close to me. I have no storage room so I get three deliveries a week from them – Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I could get more if I wanted. It’s just a phone call and they drop stuff down. Because they are so close I don’t need to take away space from the shop to use as a storage room.”
Like most small retailers Kane relies on the offers from the group to attract custom and encourage impulse spending.
“Sometimes we have better offers than the supermarkets,” he says. On the day in question there are strong offers on laundry detergents on view that would easily rival prices in the multiples.
Customers and staff
There are 12 employees in total including Gayle. Kane says he is lucky to have such great staff.
“My wife does the back office part and the wages and I’d be on the shop floor most of the time. It works out grand. I’m lucky with the staff I have as most of them have been with me for 4/5 years and one is here 11 years, that’s Bernie Gahan. I have staff that I would trust to run the place if I was away for a week.”
Kane also credits his customers for supporting him throughout the years. “From day one our customers have been fantastic. We’ve held our own over the years we’ve been here. We would know most of our customers. My customers have been loyal to me for the last 11 years so I can’t thank them enough.”