XL: Q&A with Paul Bealin, head of sales
The XL group is in a good position to face the challenges presented by Brexit, according to the group's head of sales Paul Bealin.
26 August 2019 | 0
What are the main values that your symbol group channels through its retailers and their stores?
XL is a national brand with a local approach, offering retailers the opportunity to retain their independence and their local identity, all whilst benefitting from the many advantages of symbol group membership. XL offers a flexible, market-leading package, which enables retailers to tailor their shop to consumer needs, and also to react quickly to changing market conditions in order to grow their business. XL’s affordable fit-out cost is one of its many attractions. Its tagline ‘a great deal more at your local store’ underpins the brand promise of serving local communities, delivering great value, choice, service and exciting consumer promotions.
Wholesaling is a key part of the relationship between retailer and symbol group. How does your group maintain and promote this area of the business?
With access to competitively priced products and innovative offerings via the buying power of BWG Foods, one of the many benefits retailers avail of is a vast and diverse supply network through its Value Centre wholesale cash and carry network, and through the company’s chill distribution centre in Dublin. Strategically positioned with 20 Value Centres located around Ireland, every XL retailer is never far from one and has the full support of their branch. Value Centres are well-known for providing superior customer service. XL retailers want much more than a transactional type relationship with their wholesaler. They want services and advice and our local sales developers and dedicated fresh foods advisors are a key part of helping maintain personalised customer relationships. There has been continual investment in the Value Centre branch network over recent years and having recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, XL retailers are continuing to benefit from the hundreds of special offers available at Value Centre.
More and more, symbol groups are pivoting towards a broader and more comprehensive fresh offering than ever before. From a symbol group’s perspective, what is the catalyst for this change?
Consumers today are more health conscious, eating less processed foods and looking for more convenient ways to follow a healthier lifestyle and diet. The range of fresh produce has never been more available to consumers and the increase in demand only demonstrates that consumers are more familiar and adventurous with these products. While the demands for healthier, fresher and natural food solutions are increasing, there is also a trend towards indulgence.
One of the main concerns among retailers in 2019 is soaring insurance premiums. Where does your symbol group stand on this issue and the burgeoning campaign to reduce these costs?
Rising insurance premiums, fraudulent and exaggerated claims and general inefficiencies in our insurance market are a major competitiveness issue for retailers. Every year, Irish retailers are hit with average increases in Employer and Public Liability insurance, despite a falling number of incidents in-store as a result of increased investment in staff training and store layout. XL is strongly supportive of urgent reform that will alleviate the unnecessary and unsustainable pressure on our industry.
Apart from the insurance question, what are the challenges facing the business as you see it, on a nationwide as well as a local level?
The uncertainty of Brexit presents a significant challenge to our industry and the wider economy. As one of the fastest growing convenience brands in the Irish market, XL remains in a strong position to face the challenges and has thrived in what is a highly competitive landscape. From a local level there are pressures on rate increases, rising wages and compliance costs and that’s why being part of a bigger group offers independent retailers an invaluable support mechanism.