Saturday 17 March 2018

Feargal Quinn: I can't help but be impressed by Irish retailers Chopped and Happy Pear

Brian Lee
Brian Lee

Q: What Irish retailers do you most admire?

A: That is a pretty dangerous question, as there is a potential for me to insult someone who I forget to mention, but here goes.

On the health side of things, one can't help but be impressed by the work that both The Happy Pear and Chopped are doing.

The Happy Pear's David and Stephen Flynn.
The Happy Pear's David and Stephen Flynn.

The Happy Pear for their extraordinary brand-building and use of digital media to create awareness.

Chopped is more about taking the customer need for a fresh and healthy meal and delivering it in a theatrical style that seems to resonate with so many people.

Butlers Cafés certainly deserve a mention for their stylish décor and great coffee experience with new operators in that area like 3FE and Brother Hubbard's creating a whole new style and experience.

While Tiger is not an Irish company, I would acknowledge the work that the Irish franchisee has done in growing the popularity of the concept throughout the country with their quirky impulse range of products.

I am also full of admiration for the work that The Arboretum Garden Centre just outside Carlow is doing with both its gardening experience and café operation.

Another is the Garden House in Malahide, which could teach lots of retailers some great skills.

In the supermarket sector, I am watching carefully the repositioning of Dunne's under the stewardship of my old rival Margaret Heffernan.

And battling it out to fight off stiff international competition in the food sector is SuperValu with its fantastic focus on local and community initiatives.

Feargal Quinn
Feargal Quinn

If I have forgotten anyone who feels they should have got a mention, apologies!

Q: What is your view on businesses supporting charities and work placements, etc?

A: This is always a difficult one to answer and a lot depends on your own personal views as owner of the company and the ethos of the business.

As a way to answer I will give you some of my experiences during my time at Superquinn and you can make up your own mind after that.

I always encouraged our managers to be active members of the local community and to ensure that whereever possible we played our part in supporting whatever initiatives were happening.

Whether it was festivals, the local tidy town group or some fundraiser, we usually tried to get involved.

Very often that meant that we rarely said no to even the smallest of charity that even looked for a spot prize for a raffle.

Our managers always tried to ensure that they would engage with local special needs organisations and typically each of our branches had a student, either on short or long-term placement with the shop.

They were all valuable members of our team.

I can recall several heart-warming letters I received from the parents of these students who had told us that in some cases, this weekly job had totally transformed the student's outlook.

I realise that it is difficult to keep a balance in these things, and sometimes it is even more difficult to say yes to one group and no to another, but I would much rather be in this position, than to be doing nothing at all.

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