One of the world’s most recognised food-service entrepreneurs speaks about his forthcoming visit to Ireland as one of the world-class speakers featuring at this year’s Ireland’s Convenience Retailer Summit.
Matthew Corrin, the founder of Freshii and an international star of food-to-go, believes the spirit of entrepreneurship is “alive and well” in Ireland as he plans his return.
Speaking to Ireland’s Forecourt & Convenience Retailer, the Canadian-born former fashion designer has become an internationally recognised figure with multiple TV appearances and awards.
Matthew will be in Ireland this September as part of a world-class schedule of international and local speakers presenting at the Ireland’s Convenience Retailer Summit, taking place on September 6 in the Clayton Hotel, Dublin.
The story of Freshii is one of meteoric success. It’s first store opened in Canada in 2005 to large queues, and ran out of food on its first day before the end of lunch.
Since then the brand has exploded in popularity around the world, with new stores popping up across Ireland in recent months.
Its first Northern Irish outlet opened in spectacular fashion in Belfast in April, while the latest ROI store threw open its doors in Central Park, Leopardstown, in May.
The brand is already thriving in some 15 countries around the world, and shows little sign of slowing down.
Its rapid growth and cutting-edge concept has found Matthew on the receiving end of multiple major awards and accolades, and catapulted him from business talent to a North American household name.
He was a winner of the coveted Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, and featured in Canada’s Top 40 under 40, Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 under 30, and was a Canadian Association of Foodservice Professionals Restaurateur of the Year winner.
He has featured on hit shows like Undercover Boss, and even as a dragon on the CBC version of Dragons Den.
Having spearheaded a revolution in the fast-casual sector around the world, Matthew is now returning to Ireland for his tenth visit, having travelled to the isle initially for the opening of the brand’s outlet in the CHQ building in central Dublin.
“All my trips to Ireland so far have been related to the development of Freshii,” Matthew told Ireland’s Forecourt & Convenience Retailer during a recent interview. “Our brand is now in many areas across Ireland, which is really great to see.”
Matthew has worked closely with the brand’s CEO for Ireland, Dave O’Donoghue, to develop the business here.
But while he continues to coordinate the brand’s global expansion, the Canadian businessman is confident the Irish market is of particular import to strengthening its global presence.
“There are two main take-aways from my visits to Ireland,” he said. “Firstly, there is a huge millennial generation, and it’s really growing. Freshii really appeals to that generation, so it’s an important aspect for the brand.
He added: “And secondly, I’m really conscious of a new entrepreneurial spirit that’s definitely accelerating in Ireland.
“Ireland, in the past, was once thought of as a tough place to do business, but it has truly turned a corner.
“Not so long ago, nobody was willing to take a risk or commit to a major investment in Ireland, but it’s really changed direction.
“The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Ireland.”
Freshii has almost 300 locations in North America, South America and Europe, and receives some 4,000 franchise applications per year.
It’s an astounding rate of growth and one Matthew has achieved by adopting new ways of thinking that will make for a fascinating presentation come September.
Giving us a quick preview of his appearance at the Ireland’s Convenience Retailer Conference, Matthew said: “We’re going to really tell our story – the Freshii story.”
“We don’t just a have a focus on health and wellness, but also on people. Ashley Dalziel, our Chief People Officer, will also be there on the day and will explain why our approach to our people and our culture is bigger and more important to us than any other department, whether that’s our finance department or IT department.
“I’m very excited about the trip. It’s a great market in which to operate, and will be a valuable learning experience for us.”
Also speaking to Ireland’s Forecourt & Convenience Retailer was the man who helped initiate Freshii’s entry to Ireland, Dave O’Donoghue.
Not only has Dave helped deliver Freshii to premier sites throughout Ireland, but has successfully negotiated its entry into the Northern Irish market, with the first store north of the border opening in Belfast in April.
The brand is hoping to eventually open ten stores, with their first city centre outlet already performing well.
Dave said: “We’re delighted with the reaction so far. The Belfast store opened some ten weeks ago and has enjoyed consistent sales growth. We’re really happy with the performance, which is why we’re going ahead with the opening of store two and three.”
The Freshii concept has brought healthy fast food to millions at an affordable price, and its appeal among millennials has helped spread the message that nutritious, healthy food does not have to be boring, bland and overpriced.
For Dave, delivering the brand to Ireland has been a valuable experience, and not just financially.
“We’re thrilled with the success so far,” he said. “We’re changing the way people eat. We’re providing an affordable and convenient way for people to eat healthily, and the importance of that can’t be underestimated.
“It’s a good and rewarding thing to do.”
And Dave is equally enthusiastic about the arrival of Matthew this September, saying it’ll be an inspirational presentation for delegates.
“We are really looking forward to welcoming him to Ireland once again – he’s the founder of the brand and a fascinating and charismatic figure. It’s great that he’s taking part, and not just for the brand, but for the Irish market.”
Matthew Corrin will be making a presentation at the Ireland’s Convenience Retailer Summit 2017, taking place at the Clayton Hotel, Dublin on 6 September.