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Londis ready to face next 60 years

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Willie O’Byrne and Leo Crawford from BWG, with Conor Hayes

Londis sales director Conor Hayes speaks to Ireland’s Forecourt & Convenience Retailer about the brand’s €8M investment in its network

 

Following its high-profile step under the BWG umbrella last year, convenience network Londis sprang into action in early 2016.

Not satisfied with being instrumental in the first-half operating profit surge of its parent company, it launched an €8 million upgrade to 40 of its outlets.

Conor Hayes

Conor Hayes

The first major investment in the brand since it was acquired, Londis expects the move to boost sales by 10 per cent.

Speaking to Ireland’s Forecourt & Convenience Retailer (IF&CR) magazine, sales director Conor Hayes is behind the company’s new stridency.

He believes the deal with BWG has not only been good for the both companies, but also gives power to Londis retailers.

“The deal has been very positive both for BWG but also our Londis retailers,” he said. “Londis retailers now have a much bigger power behind them which brings many added benefits from better value, strong national and local marketing, innovative store design along with bespoke retail offerings including deli, bakery, butchery, and household name coffee brands, to name but a few.

“We are coming up on a year’s anniversary of the sale and it is fair to say it has taken everyone that time to get to know each other, not dissimilar to any partnership.”

Londis is known for its clever marketing campaigns, reinforcing how the stores are culturally embedded in the communities they serve.

Staff, meanwhile, don’t shy from charity events, such as the Jump for Joy campaign that saw Londis workers engage in parachute jumps for a suicide and self-harm charity.

Millford Londis' off-licence

Milltown Londis’ off-licence

“Community engagement is paramount for our brand and the success of our retailers,” Conor told IF&CR. “It very much fits with our brand strapline ‘Londis, Local like You’.

“Londis retailers across Ireland support local employment, local sports events, charities, raffles and so on, and they do this year in and year out.

“John Roche in Doneraile is one retailer that holds an event every year for Pieta House and had a ‘Jump for Joy’ parachute jump.  A team of Londis retailers and staff, including our own team got involved and raised over €31,000 for this very worthy cause.

“I know John is cooking up something bigger for next year!”

With the new look stores on the way, we asked what customers can expect from their local Londis.

“Consumers have so much choice now and since the recession consumers have become very price and promotions driven in their choice of where they shop,” Conor told us. “In Londis we have always boxed above our weight in our promotional pricing. Londis also has a great name for fresh and we intend to build on that over the coming months and years. Londis customers expect to find fresh product, competitive pricing with a local feel and that’s what we deliver.”

The €8 million investment in store redesign, meanwhile, has led to a range of new features.

Conor explained: “This element of the purchase is one of great excitement – currently nearly half the branded estate has expressed interest in developing their stores. The initial results of the revamps are very positive both from a consumer point of view but also from retailer profitability.

“A total new look and feel was established internally with the introduction of black tiled floors and black roof and the removal of all bulk heads, giving a much more open feel to the stores. This was coupled with our new deli concept Bia Blas, new coffee offerings, new bakery concept, and – soon to be launched – a new look and feel to our butchery counters.

Millford Londis

Millford Londis

“The Londis brand is in operation for over 60 years in Ireland and now with this added investment I believe we are in a great position to modernise the brand and secure its growth for the next 60 years.”

As Londis secures its long-term future, we wanted to know what sort of research went in to the new design.

“BWG has a great reputation in relation to store design and concept introduction and Londis retailers are benefiting from that,” Conor said.

“There were proven options available to Londis retailers from day one and this let us hit the ground running in redeveloping and modernising our stores.

“One example of this is the introduction of the different coffee options which have delivered amazing growth figures in this area for our retailers.”

And with the plans fully developed, Conor says the concepts are now available to all stores with refurbishments moving at pace.

“That said, our retailers are all independently owned and we will work with them at whatever pace and level that suits their business,” he added. “Like all things, not every concept will suit every store but we have options available to all stores regardless of size or turnover.

“Our plan is for all stores to be modernised over the coming weeks, months and years ahead.”

According to Conor, the new store layout helps cater for new shopping patterns, such as how over 52 per cent of every shopping mission is now for fresh produce.

“Our new layouts are trying to maximise this through our new deli offering Bia Blas, our new bakery concept, new butchery concept, fruit and veg range review and display,” he said. “All these areas have been reviewed and we now have solutions to roll out to maximise these areas.”

With positive feedback coming from their retailers, Londis is already planning a number of new initiatives.

And Conor has little doubt that the network is headed in the right direction.

“Londis is in a great position to grow and be a major part of the retail offering in Ireland,” he said.

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