Serving the services

No retailer can function without a solid and reliable wholesale operation in their area, and competition between these warehousing brands is just as strong as the c-stores. We caught up with the key figures in Ireland’s best-known cash and carry brands to learn how their companies serve business communities across Ireland



Read More:

15 October 2018

Share this post:



In past eras, the notion of a cash and carry wholesaler was one that involved a dusty warehouse, crowded shelves and an industrial atmosphere that was a far cry from something the public might see. Things change, and businesses evolve however, and the modern cash and carry store has actually taken a page from the convenience store retailer.

Competition has evolved too, you see, and so the pressure is on for cash and carry stores to drive and expand their businesses. As a result, these giant stores have taken on a bright and clean life of their own, with broad, open spaces, special offers and a personalised service that is as much about the experience as the deal.

Musgrave MarketPlace: A one-stop shop

  • Name: Musgrave MarketPlace
  • Number of branches nationwide: 10
  • Major locations: Dublin (Ballymun, Robinhood, Sallynoggin), Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford, Belfast, Derry, Lurgan
  • Number of lines in product listing: 14,000+
  • Ordering options: Online, collect, delivered, click & collect, telesales, business development manager
  • Typical opening hours: 8am – 6pm
  • Size-range of outlets: 35,000 – 75,000sq ft

Q&A with Noel Keeley, managing director, Musgrave MarketPlace: Investment, efficiency and awareness

What differentiates Musgrave MarketPlace from its competitors?

Musgrave MarketPlace is customer-focused in all its actions. We don’t just say ‘First for Service’, we mean it, and strive to deliver it. Our Food Emporiums at Musgrave MarketPlace offers customers a one-stop shop for all their business needs. These include freshmeat cut to order by our in-house butchers, a brand matching own brand range, fresh, frozen, confectionery, soft drinks, equipment/non-food items and an extensive alcohol range.

To date, we have invested €10m in developing our estate, with plans to roll out the Food Emporium format to all branches, transforming what was once a traditional cash-and-carry business into a state-of-the-art Food Emporium serving both convenience retailers and foodservice providers. This investment has helped us toward our goal of becoming a more sustainable company. For example, our new LED lighting runs at 40% of the energy consumption of the old lighting system, while our new freezers run on 25% of the old ones. The reduction of 100,000kg in carbon emissions in the chill and freezer rooms of our upgraded branches is equivalent to the annual electricity consumed by 50 homes.

At Musgrave MarketPlace, we are committed to growing our business in a way that benefits our local communities. In 2016, we partnered with social enterprise company FoodCloud, to which we have donated 115 tonnes of fresh food to date. This equates to over 250,000 meals with a value of €345,000 going to charities across Ireland. We are active sponsors of the Irish Grocers Benevolent Fund (IGBF) and Today’s Women in Grocery (TWIG) events.

How broad is your offering across all FMCG categories, including your own-brand range?

Through our delivery business and through its branches, Musgrave MarketPlace has a complete range of over 14,000 ambient, chilled and frozen products, along with an extensive range of liquor and non-food products. Along with all leading brands, we have an extensive range of own-brandproducts, over 200 ‘free from’ products, which do not contain gluten or dairy, as well as healthy alternative snacks.

Musgrave MarketPlace offers an unrivalled range of World Foods products including over 500 products from Thailand, China, Japan and India and our newest additions to the range include 100 authentic Italian products.

This is in addition to a wide range of non-food items including food packaging, professional cleaning and catering equipment.

How does Musgrave MarketPlace pay heed to customers? What recent changes have been made to the business on the back of this type of feedback?

At Musgrave MarketPlace, we have an in-house trends expert who attends trade shows and food events both nationally and internationally. We also have a team of product specialists, who are experts in areas such as fresh meat, fruit and vegetables, alcohol and non-food. In addition to our team of development chefs, these product specialists are experts in their areas and they advise our customers on the best current and upcoming products

to meet their needs. Trends and key industry information strongly influence the products we develop. For example, we are currently extending our range of vegan and vegetarian products to tie into both the broad trend of healthier lifestyles, and the micro trend of vegan and vegetarian diets.

Meanwhile, we also engage with our customers regularly through our Irish research partners RedC, via online questionnaires, phone surveys and qualitative research. We are always looking to improve our customer journey and experience, whether that is online or inbranch. In January of this year, we engaged in Vision Tracking research to track our customer journey in our branches. Changes made as a result of this research have included an express till and an improved click & collect service.

How do you ensure you offer retailers strong value-for-money through both your pricing and promotional offers, while retaining strong relationships with your suppliers?

As part of Musgrave, Musgrave MarketPlace leverages the purchasing economies of scale and in turn passes these savings on to our customers. One of the Musgrave core values is “long-term stable relationships”. We believe in living this value through our partnerships with our suppliers. We offer our suppliers a fair price for a quality product. We offer everyday low prices on top brands and a brand-matching own brand range through Musgrave Excellence. Three times a year we have a Wow sale with incredible prices on leading brands, and for two weeks of the month we run our ‘MegaDeal’ promotions. All of these are in addition to our 13 promotional periods a year, jam-packed with offers for customers.

Stonehouse: Independent and nationwide

  • Fact File: Stonehouse Marketing Ltd
  • Branches nationwide: 26
  • Number of customers: 5,000+
  • Number of lines in product listing: 200+ own brand (Homestead and White Hat); full range of branded ambient/ chilled and frozen
  • Tagline: “The independent wholesaler for the independent trader”
  • Ordering options: In-store; online; telesales; by phone and dedicated sales reps
  • Typical opening hours: 8.30am – 6pm
  • Size-range of outlets: 10,000 to 100,000sq ft

Q&A with Tom Shipsey, CEO, Stonehouse

With a nationwide reach, how does Stonehouse ensure its offering is convenient for retailers in any and all locations?

Stonehouse has depots in every county offering daily service, making us the cash and carry group with the widest reach. With our flexible service to retailers, we offer the most efficient delivery service nationwide, and being local in most of the towns we service means we work to retailers’ times and are not confined to set logistics times

How broad is your offering across all FMCG categories, including your own-brand range?

We have two own-brand ranges of 200+ retail and foodservice products, along with an extensive listing of ambient lines. In short, we have consumer and customer lines to suit all retail. Added to that, we are rapidly developing expertise in fresh and frozen to meet growing demand for convenience in ordering.

What flexibility do you offer retailers in terms of ordering and delivery times and services?

We offer a full ordering service, both in-store and online, as well as the most flexible delivery service possible. Our local bases mean we are there for our retailers all year round in all weather conditions. We understand local demands, local peak delivery times and special events. Many of our members now run online platforms to ease customer ordering and increase the knowledge of customers on product range and new product development.

How have you moved to incorporate the latest consumer trends and feedback from your customers into your offering for retailers?

Through a national portal operated by the largest insights provider in the market, we now can see new trends, new products, new formats etc. We are incorporating this knowledge into our promotional offerings as well as sharing the information with our supplier base to ensure that they are offering us the correct lines/variants/pack sizes for our retailers, remembering that our retailers vary from convenience to food store to supermarket.

How do you ensure you offer retailers strong value-for-money through both your pricing and promotional offers, while retaining strong relationships with your suppliers?

We continually price check our product offering against our peers and importer prices from both Northern Ireland and the UK. We work closely with our supplier base to ensure that together our offering is competitive for our retailer base. If pricing is out versus imports, we give suppliers an opportunity to match the pricing. However, if they cannot, we make no apologies for importing to ensure our customers are getting the best prices available.

Value Centre: A dedicated team ready to meet your needs

  • Name: Value Centre, Better Deal, 4 Aces
  • Number of branches nationwide: 22
  • Number of customers: 20,000+
  • Number of lines in product listing: 10,000+
  • Tagline: Your Local Wholesaler
  • Ordering options: Online, inbranch, telesales, dedicated sales developers
  • Opening hours: 9am-5.30pm
  • Size-range: 12,000sq ft – 60,000sq ft

Q&A with John Moane, managing director, BWG Wholesale: Value, service and ambitious expansion

How extensive is your geographical reach across the country and how do you ensure you offer convenience for retailers in all locations?

With network of 22 branches, we are Ireland’s largest cash and carry brand, which means we’re always close to our customer base. Customers can walk into any Value Centre branch and get a delivery direct to their business or arrange to have their order ready for collection. With the addition of Better Deal Navan and 4 Aces Portlaoise to our portfolio our geographical spread is now even greater.  We have one of the biggest sales teams on the road and our local sales reps are critical to our ensuring a convenient service to our customers.

How broad is your offering across all FMCG categories?

We are continually expanding our range and offering customers more choice than ever. We strive to be first to market with new products, giving customers the opportunity to gain an advantage over their competitors. With this summer’s heatwave we saw some unlikely categories become fast moving. For example, there was an unprecedented 162% increase in sales in our skincare category.We are confident we have the right range and stock available all year round and we plan for seasonal spikes at various times of the year. We are delighted that 2018 will be such a memorable one from a sales perspective and also as we celebrated our 50th anniversary in the midst of a heatwave!

What flexibility do you offer retailers in terms of ordering and delivery times and services?

We pride ourselves on being locally based, meaning we are always convenient for our customers. But, if they can’t get to us, we offer many ways they can place their order. Our dedicated telesales team can call customers at their convenience to take their order and, with a flexible delivery service if the customer can’t come to us, we will ensure next day delivery to them. We also offer an ‘emergency top up’ service for customers. During the Beast from the East weather event we were conscious that our customers needed stock and needed us to be flexible in our dealings with them. We took those learnings and extended our opening hours to include Sundays during that period.

Online shopping now accounts for over a quarter of our sales. Our online store Shoplink has seen great traction since its launch. The platform won an Eir Spider Award last December, and brings together BWG’s category management services and the promotional offers available to retailers, making it easier than ever to have the right range available at all times for their shoppers. The system not only connects to EPOS, but is fully integrated and live with the supply chain. Customers can access Shoplink 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, enabling them to run their business more efficiently and giving them back more of their time for other aspects of their business.

How have you moved to incorporate the latest consumer trends and feedback from your customers into your offering for retailers?

We keep abreast of consumer trends and our dedicated expert buyers ensure we have the right products available at all times. We’ll also source products locally and it’s hugely important to us to supportIrish suppliers in every way we can. Being part of the BWG Group means that through our store network of 1,000+ branded stores we have the expertise, knowledge and insight into what our customers want. We have seen the emergence of foodservice within our retail estate and our offering enables retailers to offer a diverse and appetising deli menu.

How do you ensure you offer retailers strong value-for-money through both your pricing and promotional offers, while retaining strong relationships with your suppliers?

Being part of the BWG Group means we’re able to leverage our combined buying power and we have recently increased the amount of products on offer. Value Centre runs 17 three-weekly promotions throughout the year, with further tactical activity generally centred on seasonal opportunities. Christmas is our busiest time of the year so we focus on an extended range to cater for this occasion. We offer bespoke hampers that can be tailored to our customers’ needs and budget and can include anything from novelty items to premium whiskey! Each branch also has their own local deals for their customers, so there is an incredible amount of offers to choose from all year round!





Share this post:

Read More:

Back to Top ↑

Shelflife Magazine