Shopping sensation

Paul Cooke, The Star, Mark Gavin, Cuisine de France, Pat O’Neill, Tougher Express, and Andrew Meagher, John Player & Sons
Paul Cooke, The Star, Mark Gavin, Cuisine de France, Pat O’Neill, Tougher Express, and Andrew Meagher, John Player & Sons

Tougher Express in Newhall, Naas, Co. Kildare was the gold award winner stores 5,000 to 7,500 sq ft at this year’s ShelfLife C-Store Awards. Manager Pat O’Neill explains how his team achieved such high standards



9 January 2009

Share this post:



Pat O’Neill is able to draw on his experiences as both a supplier and retailer, and fuse this with innovation to create results.

First starting his retail career back in 1983 as a confectionery sales merchandiser, he worked in various sales positions including key accounts and sales management, before as he says, "I switched which side of the counter I stood at in 2004."

This was to prove immensely beneficial for him; "Knowing and understanding the needs and goals of both the supplier and buyer is a great help to me now," he explains.

An inviting format

 O’Neill’s time spent in merchandising is evident upon entering his store and assessing its appearance. "A spacious store with an inviting format that appeals to our customers and staff alike," is how he describes Tougher Express.

"There are a number of components that help define our presence; we offer our customers a wide range of facilities and products that include an extensive food hall, full off-licence department, grocery and fully attended forecourt services."

Of course, a great place alone is not enough to create a great atmosphere; for that, the right people are essential. O’Neill is confident that he has the best team possible, with 40 staff members in total, including part-time employees.

He describes winning a ShelfLife C-Store Gold Award, as a "fantastic achievement for the store. It reflects the commitment, hard work and dedication of the whole team."

He is keen to emphasise that the efforts of every staff member were instrumental in making the store a hit on the night.

"Winning is a result of a team working well together," he says. "However I would like to make a special acknowledgement of the support from Briege O’Kane and Breda Bucke who help keep the train on its tracks every day. There are a number of people who contribute to Newhall’s success and I thank them all for their dedication and enthusiasm."

Powerful passion

Showing his passion for the business he works in, he adds: "It’s fun to compete in competitions and to win an award just helps make everything that little bit more special." In fact, he describes, "providing our customers with a quality service every day, all the time," as what he feels most passionately about within the trade.

"Customers vote with their feet so we have to constantly be thinking of their requirements and react accordingly. This year, we invested in the construction of a full off-licence department and extended our deli/food-to-go ranges and doubled our sit down café space to 100. Both projects were finished to a high standard and have created a whole new shopping experience."

Basing a project around what the customer wants is something O’Neill has always held to be essential.

"Throughout my career to date, I have always held true to one basic statement, "The customer is king." Everything we do has an impact on our customers so it is vital that we operate and plan with the objective of "customer satisfaction" being firmly placed in the driving seat at all times," he says.

Reflecting trends on the shop floor

Accordingly, the ability to anticipate what customers want now is a skill O’Neill holds in high esteem. When asked who he admires most within the industry, he responds: "All retailers who continue to adapt and reflect market trends in a positive fashion." When it comes to keeping abreast of the latest consumer trends and demands, Tougher Express is a store that excels.

Envisioning what the future holds for the gold winning c-store, O’Neill says: "Tougher Newhall will continue to adapt and reflect our customers’ requirements, location and its environment. The retail business is constantly changing through the development of new product ranges and people’s lifestyle variances. Our job is to recognise those changes and new trends and reflect them back on the shop floor."



Share this post:

Back to Top ↑

Shelflife Magazine