Staying ahead of the game

Staying ahead of the game

As Spar Merrion Row receives a fresh new look, owner Thomas Ennis shares with IF&CR how the new look has given them fresh success.

The state-of-the-art Spar store on Merrion Row has been drawing people near and far and turning heads and indeed heels with it’s new look and impressive fresh food offering. The new refurbishment has not only drawn increased footfall, but also provided new employment, and allowed the team to stay ahead of the game amongst the many challenges retailers here face.

“Over the last six months we’ve revamped one of our stores, Merrion Row. It received a fresh look with new Spar branding, and that has significantly boosted our business. We’ve added new concepts to it and that’s been received really well,” owner and Spar retailer Thomas commented.

“We’ve had Merrion Row for over 14 years, and in that time we hadn’t really done anything to it. We’ve moved things around and always updated our food offering, but with the structure, we never really did anything. But last year, we started the process to completely refurbish the site and store. We starting looking at the new concepts and ideas that were out there at the time in the marketplace, and along with Spar International we came up with a plan.

“We’re grateful we have a great relationship with our builders and planning team, that enabled us to move forward really smoothly with such a big project. We sectioned parts of the shop off and worked on each section a little at a time, which allowed as little disturbance to our customers as possible.

“We’ve also revamped one of the Maxol garages in Turvey, so that has received a brand new Maxol image too.”

The revamp of Merrion Row, which began at the end of last March and completed by the end of May, brought with it new staff to oversee the fresh food section.  As the grocery and convenience market becomes increasingly competitive, Thomas and his team have upped the ante when it comes to their food-to-go offering.

“What we came up with was something totally different to what we had before. The new image from Spar is very modern. It’s kind of funky, which is great because it meant we got to incorporate that into our food offering. From a new hot food counter, to a revamped deli, we’ve been able to hold on to our core values of providing fresh, quality food whilst updating our concepts and service to meet the needs of the contemporary consumer.

“We have a street food offering, and a salad bar with hot and cold salads that I expect is going to exceptionally well. It’s been well received so far so we’re extremely happy with it.

“Insurance costs continue to be the biggest challenge that we are facing right now. The rising cost of doing business is in the papers daily, so it’s something we’re trying to tackle on a regular basis.

“The rise in crime is also a major issue. I think that more action is needed to help minimise the risks of crime and people need to start taking it more seriously.  We put a big emphasis on educating staff to help prevent these challenges from happening.

“By incorporating the best practices in our business, we’re seeking to tackle these challenges day by day. Whenever we take on new staff we always provide special training on their induction day. Part of this training involves how to be safe and how to handle risky situation, dealing with customers , making sure the store is free from health hazards.”

After completion of the refurbishment of Merrion Row, Thomas received incredible feedback from those who came to visit and shop. With a confident future ahead in business, Thomas looks forward to exciting projects on the horizon.

“We work very closely with Maxol, and we’re currently working on revamping more of our Maxol stores. At the moment, Maxol have some really great concepts coming out of their stores.

“Maxol have taken a really reassuring position on the good and grocery front, so we’re excited to meet them again.

“We’re always looking to raise the bar when it comes to convenience retail. I think even globally, Ireland really sets the mark when it comes to the forecourt and convenience industry. We’ve got some fantastic retailers around us here, and it’s great to be a part of that.

“Being surrounded by other, skilled retailers definitely keeps you on your toes and keeps us ahead of our game”.