Rising with the sun
Harry and Barbara Woods, having run their own businesses since 1992, have recently developed their shop and expanded from 1,300 to 1,800
10 August 2008 | 0
Harry and Barbara Woods recently extended their busy store in Castlerea, County Roscommon, from 1,300 to 1,800 sq ft, a significant development for the business they opened back in 2001. “Our experience enabled us to identify an opportunity within Castlerea to open a forecourt/conveniece store to cater for the needs of the local community and passing trade,” they tell ShelfLife.
Striving to differentiate
Since this time, the couple have worked hard to ensure the success of their store. Although it is one of only two forecourt/convenience stores in Castlerea, a busy market town in County Roscommon, “this does not mean we can rest on our laurels”, they assert strongly. “We strive to differentiate ourselves by ensuring we offer a quality product to our customers, and focus heavily on the four hero categories; hot deli, cold deli, hot beverage, and wine.
And by ensuring we operate to the highest standards.” Similarly, value is another key consideration at the store, and by using Daybreak period promotions and offering value across their product range, the duo believe they’ve managed to achieve keen pricing across the board.
Good staff are key
However, the couple are keen to acknowledge their staff as their “biggest asset”, noting, “we rely on them heavily to ensure the customer gets the best service when they shop in our store.” Harry and Barbara are proud of their loyal and hardworking team, which includes seven full-time and four part-time employees. “We are very lucky that the majority of our staff have been with us since we first started in the store in 2001, which we feel is important, as the relationship between our staff and customer is key to the success of the store.”
And a hardworking team is certainly called for during the store’s peak times. “Our trade is mainly local trade, but being located on a busy route, we do get a lot of passing trade. Our busiest times are from 7am to 3pm and then in the evening from 5pm till 8pm,” says Harry.
With strong staff behind them, the couple’s next major move was to partner with Musgrave’s Daybreak brand back in August 2007. Since this time, the shop has been extended during the last 12 months from 1300 to 1800 sq ft. Harry and Barbara quickly decided to go with the group after meeting representatives who impressed them from the start.
“We knew straight away that they had a package and a team of people that were going to partner and support us in ensuring the success and long term stability of our store.” The couple add that the group have offered invaluable support “on everything from profitability, category management, store standards, HR, IT, and marketing.”
Diversifying to survive
However, although they continue to receive support from their partners at Musgrave, the Woods are not complacent about the challenges posed by the country’s current economic instability. They believe keeping abreast of what local customers want and delivering on this is the best way forward. “The slowdown in the building sector has affected a lot of food-to-go businesses, but we feel that by diversifying our offering with the introduction of an evening menu, with take away pizza and meal solutions, we were able to attract a new type of clientele.”
Demonstrating good common sense, the couple are also concentrating on excelling in the ‘basics’ of proper customer service – the things perhaps relegated in importance during the height of the Celtic Tiger’s roaring reign. “By continuing to offer a value message throughout our store, and maintaining store standards and efficient service, we will continue to satisfy our customers.”
In fact the couple describe their main business aspiration as “being able to continue growing our business through the uncertain climate that is currently approaching.” In their view, their partnership will be central in helping them to increase their margins and sales. Their sales and profits have already grown since joining the Daybreak group and they also believe through the group’s marketing strategies and promotions, they’ve been able to deliver a more unique offering to customers.
A strong value message
“Given the current competitive environment, being able to benefit from the buying power of the Musgrave Group is a big advantage. Musgrave supply us with a regular schedule of very strong promotions and POS material which allow us to communicate a strong value message, which is obviously more important now than ever.” Harry and Barbara add that they’ve also been impressed by the support offered by the Daybreak team, whose help they “can draw on whenever it’s needed.”
Keeping it fresh
When asked if they have a personal business philosophy guiding their business from day to day and year to year, their answer is very much focused around the wants and needs of the customer. “It has always been our belief that to succeed in retail you must strive to ensure the consumer gets a consistent quality offering and that you continue to invest in your business to keep your offering fresh and exciting for the customer.” With such a realistic, yet ultimately optimistic appraisal of the trade, this seems like one Daybreak destined to rise with the sun.