Symbol Group Special: Mace
After more than 50 years in Ireland, Mace knows that local customers are key to a business' success, says Daniel O’Connell, group sales director
10 August 2017
Symbol group: Mace
HQ: BWG Foods, Greenhills Road, Tallaght, Dublin 24
Distribution network: National Distribution Centre servicing fresh, ambient and alcohol to stores nationwide
Number of stores: 160+
Colours: Blue and orange
Tagline: “Going the Extra Smile”
Average store size: 135sq m
Wholesale partner: BWG Foods
Daniel O’Connell, sales director for Mace, says the group’s presence in Ireland for more than 50 years means that understanding its local customers is central to each and every business. “Many of the Mace stores around Ireland have been owned by generations of the same family,” O’Connell says, “and are well established in their local community. The shoppers in those communities continue to evolve just as the Mace offering is evolving. Our evolving has been in what we offer in our stores, including a broader mix of healthier foods under the banner of Mace Right Options.”
As with the other stores under the BWG Group, Mace retailers are serviced by BWG Foods’ state-of-the-art National Distribution Centre in Kilcarbery, Co. Dublin. “As well as this, Mace retailers also support many local producers in their areas,” O’Donnell says. “The Mace offering is constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of consumers. As shoppers’ tastes have become more discerning, Mace also offers a choice of three preferred coffee suppliers.
“The Mace fresh food offering has also just been revitalized,” he adds, “with the launch of a new deli concept which will shortly be unveiled in Mace Headford as part of an investment in the brand by BWG Foods.”
Mace has a number of initiatives in place which channel feedback from retailers back towards the symbol group. “The Mace Retail Council plays a key role in the success and development of the brand,” O’Connell says. “It is a representative body of nominated retailers that reflects the various retail formats that exist within our store network.”
The Council regularly meets with senior Mace management to discuss retailing issues, specific marketing plans and to respond to market and competitive changes. As a result, Mace retailers have a strong influence on the evolution of group policy and services on behalf of all Group retailers.
Further to the Mace Retail Council, there also exists a promotional committee that is a cross functional mix of retailers and Mace team members that drives the value agenda within he company. This committee meets every three weeks to input to the promotional activity for the brand. In addition, Mace undertakes research which gives its retailers the opportunity to rate the performance of the brand and the various functions with which they deal.
“The research gives retailers the opportunity to comment on what they feel is working well and what areas could be improved upon,” says O’Connell.
As the proliferation of the internet continues, Mace is investing more of its annual budget in the digital space, both in terms of if its interaction with the retailer and the shopper. As with its fellow groups within the BWG brand, Mace is set to benefit from the Shoplink system, which will consolidate all stock purchase history and orders with the BWG warehouses, bringing the best of both worlds to the retailers, making it easier than ever to have the right range available at all times for their shoppers.
“The Mace brand proposition of ‘Going the Extra Smile’ and the brand advertising campaign works particularly well in the digital space,” says O’Connell. “Mace utilizes various social media and online platforms to attract shoppers to the brand.
This includes digital advertising, use of VOD players, and popular social media platforms with all creative intended to communicate with the Mace target shopper in a fun and endearing way.”
Choice is everything
In terms of the challenges facing the industry, O’Connell points out the expansion of the market offering ever-larger consumer choice. “At Mace,” he says, “we view this as an opportunity to drive the popularity of the brand, to build on our brand’s essence, and to appeal to existing shoppers and attract new shoppers into our stores with a large investment in a new store design recently announced at the Mace Convention held in May.”
Whilst consumer confidence in the Irish market is on the rise, it is clear that urban areas are benefiting more from this improvement. This continues to be a challenge for Mace, since its store network stretches across both urban and rural communities. “The lessons the consumer has learnt from the recent recession have not been forgotten and the importance of value in Mace stores continues to be an important aspect of our offering,” O’Connell says. The effect of Brexit and the uncertainty surrounding it has been well documented. “The impact of the currency exchange brings a level of nervousness for the grocery sector in terms of future pricing of items depending on where they are sourced and is an area that will be closely scrutinized over the coming months and years as the process unfolds,” O’Connell says.