Wexford and Roscommon stores win international retail awards
Casey’s, in Roscommon, was named 'Store of the Year' at the 2023 Fed Awards, while Co. Wexford retailer Peter Steemers won the 'Customer Service Retailer of the Year' Award
1 February 2023 | 0
Casey’s, in Roscommon, has seen off competition from stores throughout the UK and Ireland to win a top award from one of Europe’s biggest employers’ associations.
Store manager Jim McCausland collected the inaugural award for Store of the Year at the exclusive 2023 Fed Awards.
Meanwhile, putting customers first earned Co. Wexford retailer Peter Steemers, the title of ‘Customer Service Retailer of the Year’ at his store, Steemers O’Leary, in Bunclody.
The glittering ceremony was hosted by BBC presenter Naga Munchetty at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel on 24 January.
A not-for-profit organisation, The Fed (Federation of Independent Retailers) has more than 10,000 members throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland.
Casey’s win was announced by Booker Group’s customer director Martin Swadling, and Jim McCausland was presented with the award by the Fed’s National President Jason Birks, who said: “Last spring, I was part of a group that flew over to Ireland for a whistlestop tour of some of our members’ stores, and the positivity and ingenuity that I saw has made a lasting impression.
“One store in particular blew me away, as the owner truly knows and understands the demographic of his customer base and he tailors his offering accordingly.
“In short, Casey’s thoroughly embraces the ethos of being an independent retailer. I decided that he deserved recognition for displaying excellence and ingenuity across all retail disciplines.”
After the audience of Fed members, sponsors and invited guests watched a short video featuring Casey’s, Naga Munchetty said: “Wow, what a store!”
Sadly, Peter Steemers was unable to attend the ceremony, but later said of his award: “Service is what me and the team pride ourselves on. We are the heart of the community and know everyone. Even passing trade, we make them feel special, so hopefully they will shop again on their travels.
“Customer service distinguishes me from the local competitors and supermarkets,” he added. “I do not believe in the statement ‘the customer is always right’ but I do believe in ‘they pay our wages’.
“There is no loyalty today, so you have to fight for your customers. Look after them and they will look after you.”
Steemers O’Leary supplies the local population of around 2,000 in a rural area with a large farming community.
The store has everything from specialist magazines and a bean to cup coffee machine, to local products such as flour, Wexford strawberries with ice cream or cream and milk shakes.
It also has a business services section where customers can send emails and use a photocopying machine.
“In the business services section, we had a lady that needed to send a reply to a local supplier about a faulty product issue but she had no idea how to compiler her letter,” Steemers said.
“Our staff compiled the letter, cleared it with her and emailed the company concerned. Once the reply came back, we spoke to the lady concerned and delivered the email reply to her house.
“We go over and above daily for our customers, and that is why we are still in business 50 years later.”
Staff undergo regular training to maintain high levels of customer service.
“We provide online courses and have attended local events on how to improve customer service,” Steemers explained. “We use the information from Fed factsheets for all our staff, experienced and new. This is refreshed on a yearly basis and is ongoing.”
The Fed’s National President Jason Birks said: “There is a friendly smile and warm welcome for everyone entering Steemers O Leary – even if they are shopping there for the first time.
“As well as such excellent customer care, the store is an Aladdin’s Cave, offering shoppers everything they need.”