Business Irish

Monday 26 August 2019

Swarbrigg scoops top business award

"People are starting to wear make-up younger and younger, so we'll see young teens in our stores". Stock photo: Getty
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

Geraldine Swarbrigg is no stranger to retail success.

The serial entrepreneur has been in the business for over 40 years - and she is about to take home the Lifetime Achievement Award for her efforts from the Image Women 2017 Image Business Women of the Year Awards.

"In the 90s, I brought Vero Moda from Denmark, then Jack & Jones and EXIT Kids; after that I brought over Aldo Shoes and introduced that to Ireland," she said. Her most recent venture, Inglot Ireland, is a family-run affair which Geraldine now runs with daughter Jane (general manager) and son Peter (managing director).

"I was looking for something else and I was in Montreal when I spotted the Inglot brand."

Jane was in Australia at the time and rang her and said 'have a look at this'. "As a seasoned retailer, the look was offering something different for the customers. As a makeup artist, Jane saw something about the cost, production, pigment, just something that we hadn't come across before."

A Polish family started the Inglot International under the helm of Wojciech Inglot. Geraldine and Jane met up with Wojciech in London, told them what they could do with his brand in Ireland and brought him to Dublin. It was 2009, in the middle of the recession.

"I told him that if he was a partner, we'd find him the stores," said Swarbrigg.

Coming from a family business, Wojciech appreciated the fact that the Swarbriggs were a mother-daughter duo team and agreed on a partnership without putting pressure on the family.

With a comparatively low price point - "keeping the cost reasonable and the quality high" - the brand proved popular with the target market in the 18-25 age group.

"People are starting to wear make-up younger and younger, so we'll see young teens in our stores," said Jane.

"But, in saying that, we cater for all skin types and ages. There's so many other routes that we can go down, there's huge scope for expansion. It's a very exciting time at the moment."

Inglot Ireland has 17 stores across Ireland and the UK - its first international store has just opened in Newcastle - plus an online store, and employs more than 300 staff.

Further expansion plans for the family franchise are "imminent".

The company has recently invested substantially in renovating stores around the country including in Cork and Dublin's Jervis Shopping Centre as well as its online platform.

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