Monday 23 September 2019

'Don't get into business if you're not prepared to work at it' - Pat McDonagh on expanding Supermac's across Ireland

The recently opened Kinnegad Plaza
The recently opened Kinnegad Plaza
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

Supermac's is set to open the doors of its first Wexford outlet this Friday and is looking to expand on the east coast and beyond - but prospective franchisees have to be "prepared to put the work in".

Pat McDonagh, CEO of the fast food company, says Supermac's currently has 40 franchises across the country and is set to add to that number over the next year.

Mr McDonagh said franchising is "extremely rewarding" but warned that it takes a certain type of person to run a business.

"If you're not prepared to work at it, there's no point in getting into it," he said.

"We've a lot of franchises, some in excess of thirty years and a lot of them have done exceptionally well out of it. It's a good business but it's like any other business, you've to be prepared to work at it constantly.

"It's a tough business, the hours are long and unsociable. It's constant investment and reinvestment into the business and as I say, it's very rewarding if you're prepared to do the time."

Supermac's currently has 117 outlets in Ireland, with the opening of the latest branch at Larkin's Cross in Wexford marking number 118.

The franchise will be operated by businessman Paul O'Brien, who runs three other Supermac's in Co Carlow and Co Kerry.

Mr O'Brien started off as a manager with the family restaurant in its O'Connell Street branch in Dublin and first invested in the franchise 19 years ago.

Tomorrow - June 27 - marks the anniversary of that day, and the Dubliner says he hasn't looked back since.

"When I started, there were 12 restaurants nationwide and now there are over 100," he said.

"It's been a long time coming [in Wexford]. There's a lot of interest and a lot of brand awareness... the people in Wexford are very aware of Supermac's."

In keeping with Supermac's tradition, the outlet will be decorated with the faces of famous Wexford sporting heroes - including 1996 All-Ireland winning captain Martin Storey.

"It adds a nice touch to the restaurants... we can't wait to serve the people of Wexford great chips," he said.

When asked about whether competitor McDonald's - who also recently opened a new branch in Wexford - would be pleased about the move, he said: "We don't worry about the 'M' people... we do what we do and they do what they do. Our food speaks for itself."

As well as expanding its franchises, Mr O'Brien says Supermac's is also looking to add to its menu.

"There's a huge range and we're leaning towards a cook to order menu. It's almost cooked how the customer asks for it. The USP is hot, fresh and fast."

The latest store to open was the Kinnegad Plaza at the junction of the M4 and M6.

CEO Pat McDonagh said the aim is to have 120 outlets open by the end of the year.

"We're working on getting planning permission at the minute for a couple, and we're also looking to set up in counties where we don't have a presence yet, such as Wicklow and Cavan. We're working on finding the right sites.

"We're striving to be better all the time. There's no such thing as staying the same. You're either going forwards or you're going backwards, and in order to go forwards you have to improve your offering."

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