King’s Gala/Esso, Kiltale

Retailer Brian King opened his second premises in the Trim region of Co Meath in December and already, the 1,400 sq ft Gala store and forecourt has re-established a strong trading presence in the area.

A significant investment was made to reinstate the facilities on the main Kiltale to Trim road and manager, Robbie Fisher, says the response from locals and passing shoppers since the station opened in December has been “encouraging”.

“The business has been going very well for us,” he told IFCR recently. “The feedback that we have been receiving has been very positive. I always want to know what people think of the place, so I do ask and people have said that it’s great to have a re-vitalised shop and forecourt back on this site again.”

Formerly occupied by a Daybreak store and an Esso forecourt, the site now features a 1400 sq ft Gala convenience store and Esso forecourt with four new quad pumps. DCI and Payzone facilities are available and there is an in-store ATM.

Esso / Gala Store, Kiltale
Robbie Fisher with Sara Millen at the deli

As part of the re-fit, the old car park has also been re-laid to provide space for around 36 cars and a four-vehicle truck stop has been added.

Robbie, who was formerly employed by SuperValu, began working for Brian in 2008 and arrived at the Kiltale site as manager when it opened, having previously looked after Brian’s other Gala site at Ashbourne.

The new store and forecourt are six miles from Trim and 45 minutes from Dublin on the main Trim to Dublin road. The area itself is fairly densely populated and Robbie reports a strong level of passing trade on the busy route.

The store itself includes a compact retail space and one of its strongest features is its food-to-go hot and cold deli facilities. Although the serve-overs are at the rear of the store, it’s the most notable element of the offering for shoppers as they come through the front door.

“Where the counter from the old shop was located is now the seating area for the new deli,” said Robbie. “We have seating for nine at tables and then nine counter stools. There’s lots of natural light in the area thanks to the big windows that have a great view out over the forecourt.”

There are two full-time staff working solely on food-to-go and a full range of hot meals is on offer including speciality hot rolls which change every day, and a good range of cold snacks and salads.

Esso / Gala, Kiltale
Esso/Gala, Kiltale interior

Robbie says that he feels the success of the deli has “totally reinvigorated the business”.

There’s a bigger coffee dock at the new store now with two machines available and a strong selection of labels in the wine corner is proving popular with many customers.

One of the biggest daily attractions at Kiltale, however, is the Baker’s Corner, described by Robbie as “a real crowd-puller”. In-store baker, Christine Keaton, produces a wide range of morning goods, fancy pastries, scones and bread which are sold from three large tables at the front of the store:

“The baked goods are consistently popular with regulars and the passing trade, it does very well for us and Christine does a great job,” added Robbie.

The re-fit on the store included a complete electrical overhaul along with the installation of a good deal of environmentally-friendly LED lighting. As well as that, all the store’s hot water requirements are now provided by new technology that is able to utilise the heat from refrigerators on the shop floor.

“I would say that you are looking at a 20 or 30 per cent cut to the average energy bill,” said Robbie, who describes feedback from regulars as “very positive”.

He also says that he believes symbol operator, Gala, is “a very progressive” retailer.

“Under the regional manager, Tom Hardiman, they have been a great help to us in both of our stores,” he added.

Staff member Michael McDermott in the wine store at Kiltale
Staff member Michael McDermott in the wine store at Kiltale

“They have the best cash and carry facilities with strong offers available every month and they’re always out and about, calling in with you and offering suggestions on how you can improve your store.”

In conjunction with Gala retail Services’ 13 promotional cycles, Gala Kiltale also has access to 4Aces Wholesale offers, which supplies the store and supports the business locally.

As for the future, Robbie says that primary objective will be to grow the business.

“We also pride ourselves on our customer service and the quality of our interaction with customers,” he added.

“We’re keen to find out what they really want from us. A good example of this is our introduction of a home delivery service. If you live more than 3klms away from us and you spend more than €25, then we will deliver your groceries home to you for free. I think people really appreciate that.”

Robbie also indicated that another new store is in the pipeline. He wasn’t willing to reveal any more of the details at this stage, but the new premises should be open by around the middle of the year.