The Barry Group has achieved great things over the past 12 months, but their ambitions don’t end there. MD Jim Barry talks to Ireland’s Forecourt & Convenience Retailer about his goals for 2017
The Barry Group is one of the leading wholesale groups in Ireland, with almost 300 Costcutter, Carry Out, and Quik Pick franchises under its considerable umbrella.
The group has grown into a national retailing force under the guidance of Jim Barry, and made good on its promises at the beginning of the year to expand.
The group opened at some 40 new Costcutter and Carry Out stores over the past 12 months. But Jim feels that outside Dublin, the much-discussed economic recovery has been slow to make an impact outside of the city.
“The market is slowly coming out of the very difficult period we found ourselves in five or six years ago,” he said. “You can certainly see a confidence in the market especially in Dublin and more tentatively across the country. For us, we were very patient during the downturn and we refined our offering and I think we’re seeing the benefits of that now.”
With only so much business to fight for, competition in the Irish retail space remains fierce. We asked Jim what steps Costcutter had taken to stay competitive and relevant.
“It’s an incredibly competitive business that we operate in and you have to embrace that and use it to drive standards across the board,” Jim said. “At Costcutter, we are always looking at ways to enhance our offering to our retailers and consumers. Innovation is at the heart of what we do in areas such as store design, IT and fresh food to name just a few.
“I think the fact we never stand still is what gives us an edge in the market.”
The group’s success has also manifested in multiple awards, such as the 2016 Great Place to Work Award.
We asked Jim how important it is having a good working environment for the business, and how it has been achieved.
“Having a good working environment is critically important to the business,” Jim told us. “A happy and motivated team means superior service for our customers. We take great pride in our Great Place to Work Awards.
“We use it as a way of challenging ourselves to deliver the best for our team members and it’s become an integral part of our culture within the company.”
That wasn’t the only award the Barry Group celebrated last year, with the group representing Ireland at the European Business Awards.
“We were delighted to be firstly named a National Champion and I was humbled personally to be named in the top ten of the Entrepreneur of the Year category at the overall awards,” Jim explained. “It was a long, detailed entry and I found it hugely beneficial as it involved a forensic look as to where the company was heading.”
Food-to-go has become a massive part of the retailer offer in recent years, and it’s an aspect of the business that has been thoroughly embraced by Costcutter.
But we wanted to know what steps the symbol had taken to keep pace with the fast-moving category.
“It’s obviously a huge area for us and we have invested significant resources to it over the last few years,” Jim said. “We have a number of Fresh Food projects in the pipeline which we are hoping to roll out in 2017 and we expect them to be huge success.
“Food to go has become an integral part of the Irish shopping experience and for us, the emphasis is always on quality and value.”
But it’s not just the burgeoning quick food sector where the Barry Group fascia’s have found success, as Jim explained the advantages retailers have in joining the Costcutter, Carry Out, and Quik Pick symbols.
“We very much see ourselves as the ideal partner for a family business,” he said. “We believe we are unique in the market because we are a family business ourselves so we are fully aware or the needs of another family business.
“We offer a great package of services through our valued team including competitive store fit out costs, range management, regular support and advice service, a first class marketing package, promotion programme, and competitive pricing.”
With a successful 2016 under their belt, we wanted to know what Barry Group were prioritising for 2017.
“We have a number of exciting projects in the pipeline and we would hope to have them fully rolled out in 2017. Our intention is to achieve double digit growth across all of our selling channels in 2017.”