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April 2014

Hardware & Homestyle

how blAck mAgic will help you get A green lAwn.

introducing the new mcculloch lAwn mower. Pick up some serious power while you’re out shopping or experience the full range at

McCulloch is sold at: Liffey Distributors Ltd. 309 Northwest Business Park, Ballycoolin, Dublin 15, email, telephone +353 1 824 2600.

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Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information is correct, the publisher cannot accept responsibility for errors, omissions or discrepancies. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher.

Letter from the editor Summertime is here. Well, almost. With the riot of colour that has sprung up in outlets throughout the country customers might well be convinced that they have been catapulted into the middle of the year! And to those customers it seems that plants and flowers, barbecues and leisure products, DIY and outdoor coatings have suddenly, magically, taken centre stage. Of course there is nothing sudden about it. Catering for the seasons’ demands is something that necessitates planning and preparation and, given our unpredictable weather conditions on this island, a good deal of last minute flexibility and preparedness to act fast to meet changing conditions! To the customers, stores must have the products they want when they want them – or be able to get them fast. Simple. And many outlets – take Dairygold’s retail stores for example, as featured in this month’s profile – have become experts at this. Customers meanwhile, don’t know and don’t need to know what goes on behind the scenes to make the magic happen. They just enjoy the show! But sometimes a little recognition is a good thing. And that’s where we like to think we come in. Recognising and applauding the work that goes on in this trade and pulling out the stops when needed. As well of course as providing information, advice, product news and analysis and a space to share ideas and maybe just sound off once in a while. Thanks to our valued readers and advertisers we’ve been doing this for nearly a year now. They say time flies when you are having fun! Talk to you soon,

Martin Foran, Editor


News Retail Ireland News On The Record

4 9 12

Talking retail crime with Inspector Niall Featherstone, An Garda Síochána

The Home Front


A Chicago special!



Focus on Dairygold

HR Guidebook Special Feature

DIY, Coatings and Accessories

32 34

Books / Me and My Job Business-wise

43 44

With Russell Brennan Keane

Product News The Room Outside The Final Say

45 46 50

Hardware & Homestyle is Published by Ocean Publishing 14, Upper Fitzwilliam Street Dublin 2 Tel: 01 678 5165 Fax: 01 678 5191 Publisher: Patrick Aylward Editor: Martin Foran Editorial Email: National Sales Manager: Dermot Casey Email: Design/Layout: Jim Heron Email: Printed by: W&G Baird Ltd, Antrim


Hardware & Homestyle

Six nations and more for Expert Hardware at Citywest event

▲Chairman David Baker greets Joe Schmidt ▼Joe Schmidt – a welcome guest and inspiring speaker at Expert Hardware’s special event at Citywest

Dublin’s Citywest hotel was recently taken over by independent hardware store owners from all over Ireland.


Why, you might ask? First, to find out how each of their businesses would benefit by being a member of Expert Hardware. Second, to see Joe Schmidt who is responsible for turning everyone in the country into raving rugby fans. And that was an irresistible combination as it happened. What transpired was probably one of the most inspiring talks that any one in that room was ever at. Seriously. It was that good.


The event started with David Baker and Alan Grant from Expert Hardware explaining how the group works and gets ground-breaking results for anyone who happens to be a member. The room was full to capacity and both David and Alan had everyone’s attention until 1pm. At that point it was time for the man of the moment – certainly in sporting terms. What followed was one of the most engaging and captivating talks from a true legend. And even for non-sports fans, it was one of the highpoints of the year so far. A truly inspiring and engaging speaker, Joe explained that he had heard about Expert Hardware from a very good friend of his, Dr Jim McShane, who himself had heard about the group from David Baker, its chairman. He was really impressed with how hardware stores around the country had joined together at possibly the most difficult trading time ever and succeeded in


April 2014

not only to stay in business but flourishing.

Take on

By coming together and fighting the good fight, the members of Expert Hardware were able to take on the bigger guys on every front, observed Schmidt. He used analogies to describe what, in his opinion, was the similarity between what he did with the Irish international rugby team and what Expert Hardware members did for Independent hardware store owners all over Ireland. He told the story about how they prepared for the French match. He said that they knew that size was against them. The French team had much bigger players than the Irish team. So the Irish team was not going to win on that front. He and the team looked at their strengths and clearly identified two areas where they were better than the French. One was ‘tackle breaking’ and the other was passing. So they decided to play to their strengths, which they clearly did. He said Expert Hardware have done the same thing.


They looked at the competition to identify their weaknesses, one of which, points out Expert Hardware, is undoubtedly product knowledge – followed quickly by quality customer service. On both those fronts alone Expert Hardware knew that they could beat the competition hands down, it was noted. Schmidt stressed that this can only be done by coming together however. In sport it means each player playing as part of a team rather than playing as an individual.

In hardware retailing it means individual hardware stores coming together as a unified force and creating an energy that could not be generated by individual stores.


The manager was asked how he was able to discipline a team of such big burly men when he himself came over as a mildmannered, very easy going person. His answer was inspiring. He said: ‘you do not need to be a disciplinarian to get a team working or motivated. ‘If I as manager find out from each individual player what they think needs to happen to achieve our goal, and then form all of those opinions into a consensus – then that means that they themselves came up with the plan.’ In essence, that means they have created their own discipline without anyone imposing it on them. This is the way the best teams work. Similarly with Expert Hardware, everything they do is discussed at monthly members’ meetings and the members decide what is the best way forward. No wonder they are winning, observed Joe Schmidt!


Hardware & Homestyle

Laois Sawmills honoured in Awards Laois Sawmills Limited is the manufacturing category award winner in the SFA National Small Business Awards 2014.


The presentation of the awards was made by the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore TD, at the Awards Ceremony in Trinity College. This is the tenth year of the SFA National Small Business Awards, which are organised by the Small Firms Association. Guest of Honour, the Tánaiste, commented: ‘I believe it is important to acknowledge the vital role of the private sector in driving our economic recovery and, most importantly, in creating employment. ‘In particular, we must recognise the people behind Ireland’s small and medium enterprises, who create two-thirds of all new jobs. ‘The tireless commitment, drive and hard work of our entrepreneurial men and women in the small business sector, right across the country, has played a central role in our economic recovery.’


The awards are sponsored by Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, DHL Express, AIB, O2, Small Firms Association and the Emerging New Business category is sponsored by the County and City Enterprise Boards. Speaking at the event, SFA Chairman, AJ Noonan, said: ‘The companies gathered here already employ more than 650 people and they all have aspirations for growth. ‘It is these award-winning small businesses and others from all over Ireland that will generate the growth needed to

At the SFA National Small Business Awards 2014 were, from (L-R), AJ Noonan Chairman, SFA, Eadaoin McNamara, Laois Sawmills, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade, Eamon Gilmore and Jim McNamara, Laois Sawmills, who were announced winners of the Manufacturing category. The SFA were sponsors of the Manufacturing category.

create jobs, overcome our debt burden and deliver the prosperity and quality of life that this country can legitimately aspire to. ‘We can lead the way in helping Ireland to recover faster and stronger than others. We have done it before; we can do it again!’


Laois Sawmills Limited is based in the outskirts of Portlaoise and is a state of the art sawmill processing 100,000 tonnes of log material annually. Currently employing 42 people, Laois Sawmills endeavours to provide high quality product, a reliable service and a competitive price. To realise this, the company has invested in technologically advanced sawmills equipment that ensures a high quality product. The wide range of services and products

include sawmills processing logs and creating a high quality finished product along with a wood pellet and wood chip plant.

Commended – Timbertrove

The Highly Commended award meanwhile was made to Timbertrove (Dublin). Timbertrove is an award winning 100% Irish-owned family-run business with over 25 years’ experience in the design, manufacturing and installation of top quality timber garden products. With the opening of a new Country Store & Café serving freshly homemade food they have become a retail destination attracting thousands of new customers. Customers typically engage Timbertrove at the design stage of their developments which enables them to reflect their specific requirements.

The world of housewares in Chicago The 2014 International Home + Housewares Show was soldout with 2,100 exhibitors from 45 countries and recorded an increase in total buyer attendance this year. The event has been highly praised by buyers, sellers and press including Hardware & Homestyle who visited in person.


The show kicked off with very high attendance on the Saturday and that continued through to the close of the event, says Phil Brandl, president/CEO of the not-for-profit International Housewares Association (IHA), in our major report in The Homefront section in this issue. The International Home + Housewares Show and the International Housewares Association, the global sponsors and organizers of the Global Innovation Award (gia) program, announced the 2013-2014 gia Global Honorees in Chicago too. For more, see The Homefront.

April 2014



Hardware & Homestyle

‘Bosco’ campaign – a new record! target and want to recycle even more in 2014 and beyond so that we can further help this incredibly worthwhile cause while helping Ireland meet its EU battery recycling targets.’

Thanks to a helping ‘hand’ from Ireland’s favourite puppet, the Irish public recycled more batteries than ever in 2013. WEEE Ireland are delighted to announce that more than 25 million portable waste batteries have been collected across the country as part of the 2013 Spread a Little Sunshine campaign for LauraLynn.



As a result, €90,000 has been donated by WEEE Ireland to Ireland’s only children’s hospice thanks to the success of the 2012-13 campaigns and the widespread public support received. WEEE Ireland teamed up with Bosco in 2013 for the Spread a Little Sunshine campaign, with the aim of recycling as many portable waste batteries as possible whilst also creating a monetary fund for LauraLynn. Batteries are collected and recycled at a cost to the scheme but WEEE Ireland wanted to encourage people not to throw them in the bin but recycle instead and hit upon the idea of donating to the LauraLynn Children’s Hospice based on the recycling effort. A total of 25 million waste batteries equates to over 532 tonnes recycled by people through the blue WEEE Ireland battery boxes in retailers, offices and in schools in WEEE Ireland areas all over the country. This is an increase of the equivalent of 3 million batteries since 2012 growing Ireland’s

take back rate from 30 to 35%.


Recent research commissioned by WEEE Ireland carried out by Empathy Research revealed that children are leading the recycling charge in the home, as households with children (57%) are more likely to recycle batteries than those with no children.* Philomena Dunne, CEO of LauraLynn, said: ‘Thank you to everyone who recycled their batteries in 2013 – we are amazed at the huge volume of batteries that have been recycled and the donation from WEEE Ireland as a result of everybody’s great efforts

is phenomenal and greatly appreciated by all of the staff and families at LauraLynn.’ Elizabeth O’Reilly, WEEE Ireland, said: ‘We are absolutely thrilled with the response to the campaign in 2013, Bosco really struck a chord with the Irish public and it is a fantastic achievement that we can make this donation to LauraLynn. ‘As a mum I can appreciate how important the work done by the staff here is and how much it helps the families who avail of the services every day, and we are also happy to announce today our continued partnership with LauraLynn for the next two years. ‘We want to thank everyone who helped us to reach this

AT A GLANCE: Total of 532 tonnes of waste batteries recycled and €90,000 raised for LauraLynn Children’s Hospice in 2012 – 13 by WEEE Ireland campaign We are now at 35% portable battery take back rate, and need to be at 45% by end of 2015 under EU rules WEEE Ireland research shows that children are leading the way with battery recycling in the home

Fleetwood launches new Sales Academy Masterclass! Over recent months Fleetwood Paints have been working with well known retail trainer Ms Susan Madden of Retail Training Consultancy Ltd to create a new training program which focuses on how to add value to the retailer when selling paint and paint applicators. The Fleetwood Academy Masterclass is a one-day course for retail sales staff designed to apply best selling methods and upselling techniques when selling


April 2014

paint and applicators to the Irish consumer. Retail Training Solutions Ltd, and its founder Susan Madden, have been in business for 21 years and in that time have amassed a great deal of knowledge as to how the Irish retailer can best maximize the value of the sales opportunity of every consumer coming through their door. ‘In putting together the Fleetwood Academy Masterclass we have sought to combine

Susan’s vast experience in selling techniques with Fleetwood’s unrivalled technical knowledge in both Paint and Applicators, to create, what we believe, will be a very rewarding experience for the paint retailer,’ says Steven McQuillan, marketing manager, Fleetwood Paints. Each day is limited to a maximum of 12 people and it is planned to hold one Fleetwood Masterclass per month between now and the end of 2014.

By end of 2015 we need to be at at least a 45% battery take back rate and WEEE Ireland hopes to put Ireland on track to meet this with the help of the LauraLynn Children’s Hospice and the public. This statistic means every second person will have to recycle ALL of their batteries next year to achieve the target so the Scheme’s final message is, ‘don’t let your neighbour do all the work. ‘Collect spent batteries at your home and workplace and put them in the WEEE Ireland Blue Battery boxes at retailers and other collection points locally. It’s easy and free to do so.’ The more batteries that are recycled, the more LauraLynn will benefit. Every year there are approximately 450 child deaths and more than 4,000 children living with life-limiting or threatening conditions in Ireland. All money raised from the Spread a Little Sunshine campaign will go toward the upkeep and development of the hospice, which requires €2.4million to operate annually. *Empathy Research carried out in March 2014, with 1,097 participants taking part. Susan Madden


Hardware & Homestyle

Bloom 2014 is approaching fast Bord Bia has announced its much-anticipated gardening, food and family festival, Bloom. Now in its eighth year, Ireland’s largest garden and food festival will run for five days over the June bank holiday weekend in the Phoenix Park, Dublin from Thursday, 29 May until Monday, 2 June.

exhibition featuring floral and nursery exhibits, a new plant village encompassing effervescent plant displays, a wide range of craft and Irish food stalls, cookery demonstrations with Ireland’s finest celebrity chefs and fun fringe events for all the family. Gary Graham, Bloom show manager, said: ‘We are delighted to announce this year’s Bloom festival. ‘Each year we try to introduce exciting new elements to the festival and this year is no exception!


Bloom continues to attract a nationwide audience and last year’s festival saw a flourish in visitor numbers, with over 110,000 attendees. This year’s showcase will once again be ‘abloom’ with spectacular show gardens crafted by high-profile

Fantastic designers,




‘We are introducing a fantastic new restaurant offering

celebrating the very best of Irish quality food, a world-class plant village and a superb sculpture garden. ‘There’s something for everyone at this year’s Bloom festival and visitors can look forward to a wonderful day out for all the family, with spectacular garden walks, flower arranging demonstrations and a thrilling programme of music and entertainment.’ Tickets are on sale now and visitors are encouraged to book early for discounted rates by visiting: www. Follow Bloom on bloominthepark and www.

Strong footfall figures signal recovery in Northern Ireland retail underway The Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) was recently pleased to be able to announce positive and encouraging figures according to Aodhán Connolly, director.


‘These are the first positive footfall figures for Northern Ireland since July 2013, and they demonstrate the fantastic work that has been done by Northern Ireland retailers to tempt shoppers into their stores,’ said Aodhán.

‘Retailers in Northern Ireland are listening closely to their customers and working hard to ensure they deliver what shoppers want. ‘Falling inflation, combined with great value for money right across all retail sectors, means that consumer sentiment is really improving in Northern Ireland. ‘The significant improvement in footfall numbers reflects this much improved economic environment and bodes very well for the year ahead.

‘Retailers will be working hard to keep this positive trend moving forward in Northern Ireland. The Government must do all it can to support our retail sector to ensure it continues to go from strength to strength.’ Diane Wehrle, Retail Insights Director at Springboard, said: ‘It is encouraging to finally see an increase in footfall in Northern Ireland.


‘This indicates that the im-

proved consumer confidence, increasing house prices and lower unemployment are all starting to have a positive impact, particularly as the bounce back from February, when the severe rain impacted footfall, to March, was stronger than in the UK as a whole. ‘However, the result for March must be regarded with caution, as the average of -1.3% for the quarter between January and March this year still underperformed the -0.7% recorded in Quarter 1 2013.’

Growth in activity According to PMI The end of the first quarter of 2014 saw an acceleration in the rate of growth in Irish construction activity, while new orders increased at the fastest pace so far this year. Improving workloads led companies to up their rate of job creation and sentiment remained elevated. Meanwhile, the rate of cost inflation quickened to the fastest in three months.


The Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index® (PMI®) – a seasonally adjusted index designed to track changes

in total construction activity – rose to 60.2 in March from 56.2 in the previous month, to signal a seventh successive monthly increase in construction activity. Moreover, the rate of expansion accelerated to the sharpest since January 2006. Where activity increased, panellists mainly linked this to growth of new orders, while improvements in the housing and commercial sectors were highlighted. Commenting on the survey, Simon Barry, chief economist Republic of Ireland at Ulster Bank, noted that: ‘The recovery in the Irish construction

sector gathered pace at the end of the first quarter, according to the March results of the Ulster Bank Construction PMI survey. ‘The overall PMI index jumped to 60.2 last month as the rate of expansion picked up to its fastest pace in over eight years.

Housing ‘Housing activity continued to rise sharply in March with last month representing the ninth month in a row of expansion linked to residential projects. ‘

April 2014



Hardware & Homestyle

Bord Bia Awards Ireland’s Top Horticulture Businesses Bord Bia presents annual Amenity Horticulture Awards Bord Bia presented its Amenity Horticulture Awards for the garden industry at a reception in its Dublin-based headquarters. The Awards recognise and promote excellence across three key sectors of the industry while celebrating the industry’s dedication to achieving the highest standards of operation.

work, diligence and perseverance of the industry in this challenging environment. ‘The commitment to excellence of these award recipients inspires confidence in the sustainable economic future of the sector, worth some €45 million annually. ‘These companies are continually investing in training, infrastructure and procedures to attain a Bord Bia Quality Award, allowing them to deliver beyond consumer expectation.’


The overall category winners were:

This year Bord Bia awarded 28 garden centres, 3 ornamental growers and 16 landscape service providers, which have successfully achieved the standards as set out by its Quality Assurance Programmes along with 20 category awards for Garden Centres, Landscape Contractors and Nursery Growers. Speaking at the event, Aidan Cotter, chief executive, Bord Bia, stated, ‘The awards, which reflect the achievement of the highest standards in business operation, quality standards, innovation and retailing in the sector, are a testament to the hard

1 2

Large Garden Centre of the Year – Arboretum Lifestyle & Garden Centre, Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow Small Garden Centre of the Year – Cois na hAbhann, Garden, Home & Lifestyle Centre, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford Landscape Business of the Year – Thomas J. Crummy Landscaping, Cloonloo, Boyle, Co. Sligo Ornamental Grower of the Year – Young Nurseries, Ballinanima, Kilfinane, Co. Limerick.

1. L-R: Aidan Cotter, CEO, Bord Bia, Rachel Doyle, Arboretum Lifestyle & Garden Centre and Mike Neary, Horticulutre Director, Bord Bia. 2. L-R: Aidan Cotter, CEO, Bord Bia, Maria Nolan and her father, Michael Nolan of Cois na hAbhann and Mike Neary, Horticulture Director, Bord Bia. 3. L-R: Aidan Cotter, CEO, Bord Bia, Natasha Maher, Glanbia CountryLife and Mike Neary, Horticulture Director, Bord Bia. 4. L-R: Aidan Cotter, CEO, Bord Bia, brothers Paul and Justin Harvey of Windyridge Nurseries and Garden Centre and Mike Neary, Horticulture Director, Bord Bia. 5. L-R: Aidan Cotter, CEO, Bord Bia, Nuala Young, Young Nurseries and Mike Neary, Horticulture Director, Bord Bia.

Find out about the latest in cloud, mo online technology ‘Improve your software knowledge at the forthcoming RNH InfoDay!’ RNH Solutions is delighted to announce its forthcoming ‘InfoDay’ on June 11 at the Red Cow Moran Hotel, Dublin.


The free event, which is open to both existing and prospective customers, is being held to demonstrate how technological advancements can help companies drive business performance. The company will be showcasing its latest innovative products during the event, including its tablet app which helps businesses to boost field sales, and B2B and B2C e-commerce solutions to facilitate online trade. RNH will also display its cloud


April 2014

computing solutions, which give businesses the chance to compete with leading organisations in terms of technology and IT infrastructure. Cloud hosted products are deployed via remote servers in a state-of-the-art data centre, which allows businesses to utilise the expertise of trained IT maintenance experts. Cloud hosting also offers the benefits of flexible monthly payments, remote data backups and automatic software updates.

Experts on hand

There will also be experts on hand to give businesses the opportunity to ask for free advice or answer any questions they may

have. These innovative product demos, presentations and networking opportunities ensure that businesses leave with new ideas and practical solutions to maximise productivity. Identical morning and afternoon sessions are being held, so businesses only need to spare half a day of their time to reap the benefits from this exciting event. To find out more about the RNH InfoDay, which is being held in conjunction with MAM Software, visit infoday. ‘Entry is free, but places are limited, so please book now to avoid disappointment,’ is the message to readers!


Hardware & Homestyle 3



obile and

Mick Forrest of RNH at a recent trade show

Retail ireland News

Retail Ireland MasterCard Annual Conference A large number of retailers have already secured their place at the Retail Ireland MasterCard Annual Conference 2014, which takes place on Tuesday, 6 May from 8am to 2pm at the Gibson Hotel – Point Village, Dublin 1, with this year’s theme being ‘recovery and renewal’. The event will be opened by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, and chairing the day’s events will be popular broadcaster Norah Casey, with key note address by The Baroness Neville-Rolfe, formerly of Tesco plc, now a member of the House of Lords and serving President of EuroCommerce. There are now limited tickets remaining for what promises to be Ireland’s retail event of the year. To access a full list of speakers and to secure your place, visit us at Retail Ireland stresses importance of retail issues to Ireland’s European candidates Retail Ireland recently circulated an information pack to all 28 candidates standing in Ireland’s European Elections to enhance awareness of the importance of our industry and to stimulate a debate about retail issues on the campaign trail. The pack included a copy of our own recently-published Strategy for Retail and a copy of EuroCommerce’s European Elections Manifesto, which explains the three crucial policy areas which need support from the next Parliament in order to foster growth across Europe’s retail industry. Under changes brought about by recent legislative reform, the next Parliament will have more power than ever and Retail Ireland looks forward to engaging with Ireland’s 11 successful MEPs once the new Parliamentarians take office in September. To access a copy of Euro-

Commerce’s Manifesto and our own Strategy for Retail, connect with us at Retail Ireland helps launch new green guidelines for Irish retailers GreenBusiness, in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency, has published a useful set of guidelines dedicated to helping retail businesses reduce their costs, better manage their waste and limit their environmental footprint. Retail Ireland is delighted to have been asked to endorse the guide and it receives our full support. The guide provides Irish retailers with the information, advice and clever tips needed to reduce business costs by making small yet significant changes to how resources are managed, thereby also enhancing the green credentials of our industry. The guide is aimed at all retailers, from large corporate chains to small independent stores, and is an invaluable resource in helping businesses to reduce their energy, water and waste bills. To access a copy of the guidelines, join us at www.

April 2014



Hardware & Homestyle

A new feature on credit management! Welcome to the new feature on Credit Management tips that will grow into a valuable resource covering all the key areas within your credit management function to ensure your continued success through the delivery of excellence every step of the way. Credit management is about a lot more than just collecting the money that is owed, it is about: • Knowing the importance of the function. • Calculating the cost of granting credit and its implications • Setting up new accounts correctly. • Establishing appropriate credit terms & credit facilities at the start and on an ongoing basis. • Knowing what security is available, what to look for and what to do with it. • Being able to analyse financial information correctly.

• Creating excellent internal communications so all are working to the same agenda. • Having complete and accurate Terms & Conditions that protect you. • Clear payment terms that are both enforceable and enforced. • Simple straightforward administration systems that insure a logical flow of information. • Excellent external communications • Timely & accurate billing

Credit management is about a lot more than just collecting the money that is owed

• Proper documentation • Detailed sales analysis • Proper and timely statement delivery to customers who want them • Integrated collection processes • Proper record of calls made and action taken • Having trained and professional staff contacting your customers on a regular basis. • Proper focus on every contact. • Simple escalation procedures • Setting targets

And that is just for starters! In the coming issues we will explore these topics in more detail to help you manage your business in these difficult times.

I am available to help you on an individual basis if you require advice on any credit related issue – please let me know. Best wishes, Mary Aylward

stress free cost effective

√ Is Cash Flow a problem? √ Have you debts that are getting older? √ Is a growing Debtors Ledger a source of worry for you?

Not any more... There is a professional, effective, customer friendly credit control service available that is tailor made to suit your business and get you cash flowing in faster than ever before. To see if a cost effective outsourced credit control service using only trained, experienced and customer focused credit controllers could be the answer for your business...

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customer friendly

Call Mary Aylward The Credit Coach on 087 7466 089 –to find out how easy it is to turn your debtors into cash. Or email


April 2014



Hardware & Homestyle

Levels are high at Energy Show! of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Fergus O’Dowd, commented on the 27% increase in exhibitors at the Show:

‘The Irish energy sector has never been more vibrant and has really caught the attention of overseas markets with 11 international trade delegations attending The Energy Show to explore export and import opportunities with Irish suppliers.’



So said Dr Brian Motherway, CEO of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), at the opening of SEAI’s Energy Show 2014. The Show is Ireland’s annual flagship event for businesses in the Irish energy sector showcasing the country’s sustainable energy products and services. ‘Further investment in energy efficiency and continued development of our renewable energy resources will further strengthen our economy and boost our energy security.

Minister Fergus O’Dowd

‘In pursuing this agenda, Ireland has certain distinct advantages, namely our uniquely abundant wind resource, the agility of our economy, our depth and breadth of ICT expertise and our capacity to innovate,’ continued Dr Motherway. Formally opening The Energy Show 2014, Minister

‘It is encouraging to see increased momentum and confidence in what is a critical sector for Ireland,’ he said. ‘The 2014 Energy Show is bigger and better this year highlighting the growing number of companies looking to the business opportunities and competitiveness gains offered by sustainable energy.’


Organised by SEAI, the event featured Ireland’s leading suppliers of energy efficiency products, sustainable building products, renewable energy solutions, electric vehicles and smart grid innovations in the new smart tech demonstration area. The Show also featured an International Markets Area, with opportunities for energy companies based here, and who are seeking to expand to new markets across the globe, to network with trade delegates from Argentina,Great Britain, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Israel, Poland, Spain and Romania.

According to a recent study residents of Dublin have 11.9 % more disposable income than the average person in the State.

Spiralling Energy Costs? Tightening Margins? In the increasingly competitive world of retail, minimising energy costs is essential to maximize profits. This was clear based on the number of retail associated visitors we met at the Energy Show in Dublin, Says Oliver Phelan of Blackbourne Energy Solutions.


‘The Energy Show is always a good place to showcase the latest technologies and now more than ever the need to reduce utility costs is at the forefront of every business owner’s agenda,’ said Oliver who is Business Development Manager. ‘Blackbourne Energy Solutions combine over 50 years practical experience in M&E contracting and maintenance with the best products in today’s energy saving technology market, including a fully comprehensive design and installation service that can dramatically reduce energy consumption. ‘We have long-standing relationships with many leading high street retailers; including Tesco; Asda; Dunnes Stores, Lidl & Pets at Home. ‘Our innovative turnkey lighting solutions offer exceptional energy savings of up to 90% higher than conventional luminaries and

can produce a rapid return on investment. Our lighting solutions ensure optimum lighting for any retail environment.’ Blackbourne completed a nationwide voltage optimization roll out for one of the country’s largest retailers – Tesco. Installations were completed in eight weeks and stores are achieving annual energy savings of over €300,000 and have reduced CO2 by 1756 tonnes, we are told.


‘No matter what your energy source, we can help you monitor and control it,’ says Oliver. ‘Our Wireless Energy Management System is ideal for any retail environment where air condition, heating and lighting can be controlled and managed by our Energy Engineers at our 24/7 energy centre. ‘Dunelm Mill, the UK’s largest home wares and soft furnishings store, have seen a drastic drop in energy consumption since the installation of their Wireless Energy Management System, with average savings of 20%+ across all installations.’ For more information contact our Energy Management Specialist today on 01 5262470 or Email energysolutions@blackbourne.

February 2014


On The Record

Hardware & Homestyle

There has always been a healthy level of cooperation between Irish retailers and An Garda Síochána. However, when it comes to addressing the issue of retail crime, the past couple of years have seen cooperation increase further still. The man in charge of the Garda National Crime Prevention Unit, Inspector Niall Featherstone, tells Martin Foran about current thinking and practice.

Fighting Retail Crime

Inspector Niall Featherstone


April 2014

As head of the Garda National Crime Prevention Unit, inspector Niall Featherstone’s role involves a number of different responsibilities. Towards the top of the list must sit awareness-raising and communications skills. We are meeting, of course, to talk specifically about retail crime. The Unit’s main role here, says Niall, is to raise awareness amongst the public, the retailers AND members of An Garda Síochána too, with regards to the issues and the challenges – as well as the best ways to cut and prevent incidents in this area. ‘In the national office we would support our colleagues on the ground in terms of strategy and policy and in getting across the key messages through the various media fora,’ says Niall. The team also liaises regularly with stakeholders such

On the Record

Hardware & Homestyle

as ‘retailers and business people in the night-time and day-time economy’. Much work has been done in the area of retail crime in the last couple of years. A lot of this has involved shoplifting prevention. ‘We are looking at around 20,500 crimes per year on average in terms of the “theft from shops” category,’ says Niall. ‘That is quite serious.’ Niall points to a UK survey from 2009 which stated that around 450 million euro was being lost in Ireland every year. ‘There is a loss to businesses, the exchequer, the Irish population as a whole. For An Garda Síochána, it is an area that we are very concerned about. ‘A couple of years ago we felt that we needed a structure and the structure we came up with was called the “Theft From Shops Strategy”. ‘That was about working hand-inhand with the retailers and umbrella organisations such as Retail Ireland, RGDATA, Retail Excellence Ireland and others – as broad a spectrum as we could get. ‘One area we are very involved in looking at is prevention – an ethos of “prevention” as opposed to “detection”. ‘Traditionally, my experience with

‘If there are any shops around that would like some training on their powers and what to do in different situations, they can contact their local crime prevention officer.‘

retailers over the years is that they would measure their success in this area in terms of the number of people they caught shoplifting. ‘We are now saying: let’s stand back from that. Let’s look at your store design, at how you tag your expensive items, let’s look at having clear aisles where shelves aren’t intruding and where there is natural surveillance as well as formal surveillance, by CCTV for example, to deter and detect people – and more importantly, to prevent these crimes from happening. ‘It’s in everyone’s interest to invest in preventing it in the first place.’ At this point Niall mentions CPTED (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design). What that means is designing out crime – designing the shop or housing estate to stop crimes happening. This has a clear application in stores. It might involve things like having expensive items away from exits for example. We have noticed various initiatives in our Trade before. Take tools, for example. We have often seen the concept of the ‘Tool Corral’. ‘That is CPTED in action,’ says Niall: ‘Designing the environment to minimise the chances for crimes to happen.’ What about the importance of reporting crimes? ‘It is really important,’ says Niall. ‘If we get an accurate reflection rather than an “iceberg reflection” of crime then we can do more about it. ‘We have a specialist section called The Garda Síochána Analysis Service. They will look at each particular crime reported throughout the state. ‘They are getting rich data that we are sharing with retailers.’ ‘For example, Thursday, Friday and Saturday are the three days when there most likely will be shoplifting – between the hours of two and four o’clock. ‘I can say that 48% of shoplifting happens during those couple of hours on those days. So if retailers know that – and they are getting that information – they can be even more vigilant at those times. ‘We have raised this in a number of forums. We have set up a new forum called The Garda Síochána Strategic Retail Forum. ‘That meets twice a year. We bring in the umbrella groups and some of the smaller and bigger chains too. ‘So you have a real mixture. We look at how we can cut crimes together. We share information on trends and patterns.’ One thing to emerge from the research taking place is that shoplifters are not necessarily ‘prolific’. Often with shoplifting it’s the first time people have ever done it, points out Niall. ‘But more people are doing it. ‘Our data would tell us that it is more opportunist than organised and professional. There are organised shoplifters out there of course but there are a lot of one-time or two-time offenders April 2014


On The Record

Hardware & Homestyle

as opposed to what we call “prolific”.’ For retailers it is good to know this sort of information. Are you looking at a typical shoplifter? Well, not necessarily. There are many other areas involved here such as a responsibility amongst retailers to look at their own staff. It was estimated in a recent report that around 36% of theft may be down to staff. Then there is the area of fraud. The Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation is of great help here. ‘We invited them in to the retailers’ forum quite recently to talk about tokens, cheques, credit cards etc.,’ says Niall, by way of example. ‘In general, we try to raise awareness of the latest scams.’ On this note, Niall mentions that ‘shoulder-surfing’ is a new phenomenon too. Retailers should be aware of the possibility of this taking place in stores and not just at roadside ATMs. Another trend Niall raises awareness of is a ‘lottery scam’. Traditionally, in this scam, one gets a message that one has won a prize but then is asked to hand over personal details. ‘We have evidence that this is now going around in Irish,’ says Niall. ‘It can be more believable to some people. We are trying to raise awareness that just

country. ‘We have a crime prevention officer in each division. One of their roles is to link in with different retailers. ‘If there are any shops around that would like some training on their powers and what to do in different situations, they can contact their local crime prevention officer. ‘Just go to and click on crime prevention. ‘Then you see a list of crime prevention officers by town across Ireland.’ Inspector Featherstone encourages retailers to contact these officers and use them to find out what the trends are in their area. They can also ask questions such as: What do you think of my store? What do you think of my protocols with cash handling? What about my point of purchase? What about my tagging? ‘The crime prevention officer is there to help,’ explains Niall. ‘They can even do a store security survey.’ All of this is advice which is freely available. And it makes great sense to avail of it. After all, says Niall, retail crime is not a victimless crime. It affects everyone. It is far reaching.


April 2014

‘Co-operation with retailers is very good.’ because it is written in Irish doesn’t mean it’s true. ‘Then there are people pretending to be banks and doing so quite convincingly with real logos etc. They say there is a problem and ask could you enter your details.’ At the end of the day, Niall says that cooperation is very good at the moment with retailers. However, if the work of the past couple of years had not been done the crime figures in this area, he believes, would definitely be higher now. ‘We’ve made great links,’ he says. ‘We are meeting on a national basis twice a year and, locally, in divisions we are asking our chiefs to meet with various Business Watch initiatives around the

The Home Front

Hardware & Homestyle

A ringside seat on the world of home and housewares!

The 2014 International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago has been garnering rave reviews from buyers, sellers and press. The Show was sold out with 2,100 exhibitors from 45 countries and recorded an increase in total buyer attendance.

Saint Patrick

And with the event coinciding with St Patrick’s weekend, Hardware & Homestyle was there flying the Irish colours! The show kicked off with very high attendance on the Saturday and that continued through to the close of the event on the Tuesday, said Phil Brandl, president/CEO of the not-for-profit International Housewares Association, which owns and operates the Show. ‘The Show’s Saturday morning opening is a proven success and once again received high praise from our Retailer Advisory Councils as well as from exhibitors,’ Brandl continued. ‘The 435 new exhibitors and the more than 10,000 new products on display drew much attention from buyers and media alike.’ The International Home + Housewares Show showcases lifestyles, trends and products for the home. It is organized into four ‘Show within a Show’ expos: ✪ Clean, Contain + Sustain: innovative solutions for bath, cleaning and storage ✪ Dine + Design: fashion-forward homegoods, including the Discover Design category and Gallery ✪ Wired + Well: world’s largest marketplace for kitchen and household electrics ✪ Global Design Points/Global Crossroads: international pavilions In addition to unique sourcing opportunities, the show offers first-class educational and networking opportunities April 2014


The Home Front

Hardware & Homestyle

The housewares industry accounted for (US)$314.3 billion at retail worldwide in 2012. The International Housewares Association is a notfor-profit, full-service association and it sponsors the world’s premier exposition of products for the home: the International Home + Housewares Show.


for both speciality retailers and corporate buyers – special exhibitions, creative displays and a full line-up of seminars on trends and design, visual merchandising and branding, retail success factors and consumer preferences.


Noteworthy this year saw the growth in buyers from key international markets all around the world, including several European markets. ‘International buyers tell us that the International Home + Housewares Show has become a strategically important destination to find innovation and new


April 2014

products to present in their home markets,’ was the message. Media attendance included a significant increase in bloggers, coverage by The New York Times, NBC’s Today Show, The Wall Street Journal, home-focused YouTube channels and several Chicago TV stations, in addition to key US and international home and housewares trade publications including of course, Hardware & Homestyle! At time of writing, the Show was set to generate in excess of 300 million consumer impressions through broadcast, print and Internet coverage. The 2015 International Home

Hardware & Homestyle

The Home Front + Housewares Show will be held on March 7-10 at McCormick Place, Chicago USA, 2015.

Awards – Innovation

Thirteen housewares suppliers ranging from name brands to small entrepreneurs were honored as winners of the third annual IHA Innovation Awards. The winners in each of 13 categories were announced on the first day of the 2014 International Home + Housewares Show. More than 500 products were entered in the IHA Innovation Awards competition. The 65 finalists in all categories were featured in the New Product Showcases in the Buyers Club in each Show building.

The presentations we took in included the following: ‘Housewares executives need to own the new digital shelf,’ – Google exec. Technology has dramatically changed housewares consumers’ shopping behaviour, thus expanding the opportunity to reach them before the shelf, Michelle Schumaker, home goods branding lead for Google, Inc. told an audience at the Show. In her presentation, ‘Rethinking the Shopper’s Path to Purchase,’ Schumaker presented Google search data and the results of a new custom consumer housewares research study to help better understand the new technology-driven path to purchase and help build targeted marketing strategies to own the new ‘digital shelf’. According to Schumaker, Google research reveals that one in three people consider the Internet to be a fundamental resource of the human race as important as air, water, food, and shelter. ‘We are on the Internet two times more than we were just three years ago,’ she explained. ‘The rate of PC usage has grown 20 % Today, we are all about multi-device usage and we are always online.’

April 2014


The Home Front

2013-2014 gia Global Honorees announced! Gia – more than an awards programme


April 2014

Hardware & Homestyle

The Home Front

Hardware & Homestyle


The International Home + Housewares Show and the International Housewares Association (IHA), the global sponsors and organizers of the Global Innovation Award (gia) program, announced the 20132014 gia Global Honorees in Chicago. The Global Honorees are: ✪ TheSuperCool, Australia ✪ K & Ö HOME, Austria ✪ Merci, France ✪ Galleria, FiabaItaly ✪ Kookwinkel Bianca Bonte, The Netherlands ✪ Lakeland, United Kingdom The global gia jury, consisting of four retail/ visual merchandising experts and seven editors and publishers of co-sponsoring housewares trade publications from around the world, selected the gia Global Honorees from the winners previously chosen in their respective countries by the Australia

national gia sponsors. In addition, the Martin M. Pegler Award for Excellence in Visual Merchandising was awarded to LERCHE design of Denmark (above). gia was created in 1999, with the objective of fostering innovation and excellence in housewares retailing throughout the world. Today, gia is the most recognized, highprofile awards program for homegoods retailers around the globe. The competition is structured on a twotier level, national and global, evaluating retailers within the following categories: ✪ Overall mission statement, vision and strategy ✪ Store design and layout ✪ Visual merchandising, displays and window displays ✪ Marketing, advertising and promotions ✪ Customer service and staff training ✪ Innovation Co-sponsoring the country-specific gia award programs with IHA are housewares trade publications worldwide, which sponsor national gia programs in their respective countries. This year, 23 national gia winners from 22 countries were selected by co-sponsoring trade publications with

targeted distribution in over 30 countries on five continents. All winners were automatically entered in the global competition at the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago, where the global jury selected the final gia Global Honorees. Both gia national winners and Global Honorees are recognized and prominently featured at the International Home + Housewares Show. A festive gia awards dinner was held at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. In addition, introducing the national gia winners to visitors and exhibitors of the International Home + Housewares Show, there was a special gia display in the Hall of Global Innovation, in the Lakeside Center Lobby, and large gia winner banners Italy

spanned the walkway connecting the Lakeside Center to the Grand Concourse.

April 2014


The Home Front

Hardware & Homestyle

Twelve design leaders receive gia honours for product innovation A number of suppliers of cutting-edge designed products were winners of gia Global Innovation Awards for product innovation at the 2014 International Home + Housewares Show. Honored were:

Best Collection Design:

Global Honoree: Magisso for Naturally Cooling Ceramics Finalists: Carl Mertens for Verso Collection Ekobo Ecology & Design for BIOBU Bamboo Kids Collection

Best Product Design:

Global Honorees: Crucial Detail for The Porthole Joseph Joseph for Twin-cut Compact 2-in-1 Scissors Sagaform for Green - Mini Greenhouse

Discover Design Global Honorees


April 2014

Finalists: Dreamfarm for Onpot Monbento for MB LIB Parallax Horizon for MeltThat! Room Copenhagen for Ole Jensen Colander Winestor for Savino

Hardware & Homestyle In Chicago, lifestyle guru Tom Mirabelle, revealed the top housewares trends for 2014. While some of the references were aimed squarely at US audiences, the universality of the message rings true when it comes to general housewares retailing.

The Home Front

Trend watching! Housewares’ manufacturers need to adapt, inspire and motivate in order to have success with today’s ever changing consumer, IHA’s lifestyle trend forecaster Tom Mirabelle said.

Survive and thrive

Tom explained how to do so during his early morning seminar, ‘Top Trends for 2014. The New Normal: How to Survive and Thrive in our Erratic Marketplace.’ Mirabelle is senior vice president, Global Trend and Design, at Lifetime Brands, Inc. ‘Whether you’re a retailer, manufacturer or wholesaler, a single word encapsulates today’s most crucial business imperative: Adapt,’ he said. ‘Today’s consumer lives and shops in multidimensional ways we couldn’t have imagined a decade ago. ‘More importantly, they crave – no demand – innovation. ‘Sometimes these advances are tangible, delivering improved performance and expanded function, or savings of time or space. Still, it’s clear that all owe their inspiration and success to a single vital source: a fundamental understanding of the consumer. ‘Not just their age and income, shopping habits or household composition, but an educated perspective on the lives they are living and the lives they want to live.’ Mirabelle discussed several generations to illustrate how housewares manufacturers need to adapt.

explained. They seek family time and a balance of the work/life mix, so products for them have to cater to family time. In addition, Mirabelle said, the generation is more fiscally prudent, as they were the chief victims of the most recent recession, so they are working harder. Meal time and good food is very important to them.

‘Baby boomers’

Mirabelle said that so-called ‘baby boomers’ – to use another US term, are defining luxury,

‘Generation X’

Next, Mirabelle referred to the ‘Gen X generation’ aged 39-47. This group includes people who are practical and pragmatic, who spend more money on pet products than any other generation, Mirabelle said. ‘They see their home as the hive and the haven where they can relax. Their salaries are depressed and they have more debt than any other generation, so our role as adapters needs to give them good reasons to buy,’ he

Mirabelle noted that even though the most recent recession has ended, many of its effects have lingered – unemployment, for example. That will take even more adaptation, he said. ‘We have to adapt by differentiating,’ Mirabelle said. ‘There are more expectations, as consumers expect more in a slow growth era. ‘You need to deliver on a specific value platform, whether it’s price or material.’ Mirabelle also noted: ‘People hate that technology never shuts down and it replaces face-to-face interaction at retail, but we love that we are connected 24/7.’


Mirabelle also discussed the ‘Inspire’ trend, which he said is about consumer strength, more retail choices, blurred channels and categories and the socialization of food. ‘Those are your opportunities to inspire the consumer,’ he said. ‘Give the consumer new ways to live and design. ‘In all housewares categories we are seeing a move from function to more fashionable. The younger generation will embrace that.’ Even more opportunities to inspire consumers include a growing ethnically diverse population and an increasing emphasis on health. ‘Health has become one of the most important things to people, more important than a nice place to live or their money and financial situation, their community and friends, and work fulfilment. ‘So companies and products that help consumers understand and accomplish better nutrition while minimizing time investment will have the advantage,’ he said.

‘Generation Y’

Those aged 19-37, or ‘Gen Y’, as Mirabelle referred to them, are early technology adopters, true foodies and are the most design savvy generation ever. They expect customization, and they reuse and repurpose. ‘That presents a challenge to us because we are trying to sell them something new,’ Mirabelle said. ‘They want small spaces that live large, and that’s important to keep in mind as we design products for them. They are also more casual so we have to adapt to the way that they entertain. And, they are also more frugal.’


Tom Mirabelle but don’t just give them the most expensive or most desired product, he advised, give them products that deliver superior function and technology. This group is aged 48-68 and many have children or parents living with them. Some are downsizing, but not willing to sacrifice luxury. ‘We need to understand baby boomers and adapt living spaces for their new interests and hobbies,’ Mirabelle advised. ‘What is impressive about this generation is that the women are the healthiest and wealthiest and most active generation of women in history. ‘They are buying experiences, not objects. We need to adapt to their wellness desires, and to their fiscal concerns.’


The last trend, Motivation, is about motivating housewares sales with a clear focus on consumer inspirations, health and wellness and changing strategies. ‘For example, we are in an era of fiscal conservatism, so consumers must be motivated to buy,’ Mirabelle said. ‘It is the intangibles such as experience, knowledge and skills that provide the new motivation needed to spend. ‘In addition, meaningful differentiation is not about price and quality alone, it’s about the price, quality, the design and the experience. ‘It’s not about having something for everyone, it’s about product and services for a targeted audience. ‘You need to motivate with value beyond price, and that includes brand ethics, durability, variety, and design.’

April 2014


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Hardware & Homestyle

John O’Carroll, Head of Retail, Dairygold

Dairygold is an organisation rooted in tradition but that doesn’t stop it embracing the latest retailing practices and concepts when it comes to its Co-op Stores and Co-op Superstores outlets, as Hardware & Homestyle found out on a recent visit!

Dairygold – looking to the future! The Dairygold Retail division aims to provide sustainable solutions and a product mix that meets the expectations of its wide customer base. ‘The emphasis is on meeting the changing needs and requirements within our demographics and continuing to do so into the future,’ says John O’Carroll, Head of Retail, Dairygold. ‘From E-Commerce to Continuous Employee Development, from extending ranges to new cafés, Co-op Superstores are well placed to realise this challenge. ‘We are constantly looking for new opportunities to strengthen our business and grow our complementary product offering.’ There is a lot of exciting work going on here which will see them well placed to

thrive in the coming years. Yet they never lose sight of the traditional values that have put them where they are. This is part of what makes them so unique.


Perhaps one of the most exciting developments taking place at the moment is their new E-Commerce website. Co-op Superstores’ current website is a product catalogue of their range – customers can browse the range and make contact with their nearest store in relation to availability. ‘Of course many customers will continue to shop this way but we believe

that a multichannel strategy is the way forward for our business,’ says John. ‘We will be online selling through our E-commence site in June 2014, which will deliver an extensive product range, offering quality and value to our current customer base and beyond,’ adds John. Understandably proud of the work that is taking place in this regard, John describes the almost completed project as being ‘like a 40th store’. (The total between the Co-op Stores and Superstores now stands at 39 ‘brick and mortar’ outlets.) Here again, one catches a glimpse of that far-seeing, longer-term view which is espoused by so many of the Co-ops we visit and which goes a long way towards explaining the success of organisations April 2014



Hardware & Homestyle

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Hardware & Homestyle like Dairygold. John says: ‘While E commerce is the way forward, there will be a lot of time and effort before we get the rewards. We are convinced that it’s right for our business in terms of meeting the needs of our existing customers and extending our customer base outside of our existing catchment area. ‘Our customers will be able to shop with us at a time that suits them and benefit in terms of time-saving by having the orders delivered straight to their farm or home. ‘We believe that we will be the only online business in Ireland offering a full range of Farm, Home and Garden products. We plan to offer delivery to the 32 counties within 2-3 working days.’ Another unique offering of this new website will be that Dairygold Credit Account Customers will be able to charge their online orders to their credit accounts.

The green shoots

It’s all extremely upbeat. However no one here is denying that times have been difficult in general in recent years and Retail was no exception! ‘The last couple of years have been a challenge,’ says John, reflecting back. ‘2013 was a year of two halves. The first half challenged our farmers with issues such as the Fodder Crisis but this weather also affected our gardeners and business

Eugene Robinson – Retail Buying

‘As Head of Retail Buying with Dairygold Retail, I see the challenge as identifying new opportunities and being first to market in a post-recession era. ‘The aim is to develop a sustainable competitive advantage which will attract new customers and meet the requirements of our existing customer base. ‘The buying team, which consists of lead buyers and support personnel, works closely with our suppliers to review products and ranges on a regular basis. ‘We are constantly looking at what’s new in the market place and how we can offer our customers better value. ‘We carry a very diverse range of products and trends are constantly changing – our challenge is to offer our customer quality, value and the latest innovations. ‘Manufacturers’ trade shows allow us to provide the most up to date product offering for our farming and technical customer base. ‘To achieve this we look to suppliers at home and abroad by attending trade shows such as Dublin, Birmingham, Cologne and through agents in the Far East. ‘As we are in the general hardware, gardening and DIY sectors, which have a seasonal orientation, it is important to keep abreast of new trends at Christmas, Spring and Autumn Fairs demonstrated at shows across Europe. ‘You get a feel for the trends and how they might impact on our business. It is important to see what the manufacturers will put marketing support behind too.’

April 2014



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Hardware & Homestyle in general. ‘The second half was the complete opposite with great positivity, activity and sales. ‘But we continued to focus on what our customer is looking for – quality, reputable brands and value for money. 2013 in total saw good uplifts, particularly in Gardening, Paint and Farm Hardware. ‘Green shoots are certainly visible now and we see opportunities going forward.’ So, optimism in the air – but not without an acknowledgment that this has all come about following what was a very challenging time for retail. During that challenging time, the organisation responded accordingly, and, as would be expected, responsibly. ‘When hard times come you check your spend,’ says John. ‘We certainly sharpened our pencils in the recession. ‘This was the case in the way we managed our business. Operationally we saw improved efficiencies in areas from cash-flow to stock, changing from “just in case” to “just in time” for example. ‘We also saw that one of our strengths lies in being brand-focused. That comes from our “agri” background where our customers want the professional versions of items – the products that will

survive. ‘We saw how people weren’t prepared to buy as many products in the recession but they were prepared to spend the money for the brands as they saw these as better value in the long term. ‘Values of quality and sustainability continue to be very important in our organisation. ‘We managed our product range in terms of keeping it tight but also learned to use logistics better to ensure improved customer availability. ‘We have invested in an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system which has allowed us control our inventory and provides sales and margin analysis which aids our decision-making process. ‘It all means that we have a wealth of knowledge, which analyses sales and promotional trends to complement our marketing and promotional activity. ‘In more recent years, we have also focused on areas such as stock cover, stock obsolescence and stock turn – areas which, historically, would not have been a primary focus in our hardware business.’ When it comes to the range of products here the mix always presents something

of a challenge. Because the range is very much seasonal there is an expectation from customers that they will have what they need, when they need it. ‘We are always ready to respond whether it’s a heat wave, a big freeze or most recently the storms.’


Part of the success here has also come about by having an eye to the small opportunities as they came along and, having a positive approach to challenges as they arise. ‘Solid fuel is a significant part of our business,’ says John on this note. ‘The smoky fuel ban affected us. We embraced the challenges early on and broadened the spectrum of smokeless fuel and what we thought was a risk turned out to be an opportunity.’ However, it is also important to realise that not all departments will perform all of the time. ‘Homewares, for example, wouldn’t have had a very strong last few years but is

now recovering, whereas our farm hardware and fencing, etc. has been strong throughout the last couple of years,’ says John. ‘We have to be creative all the time in our marketing and promotion. One of the most popular promotions in the last couple of years was on fencing. The Gallagher Electric Fence range would be our premium brand. We did a scrappage deal, (Inspired by the motor Trade!) in conjunction with them, which proved to be very successful.’ Meanwhile products that have not sold for some time can suddenly experience a surge in demand. Again, Dairygold would be expected to have these available. ‘If you take the most recent storms,’ says John, ‘these led to demand for many products. Some are products that we hadn’t been selling much of for some time – from guttering to fencing and slates etc. They boosted sales this year. ‘We sold as many chainsaws in February 2014 than almost the whole of last year.


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Hardware & Homestyle Whilst many organisations adopted a recession-inspired cost-cutting strategy over the recent years, Dairygold, while conscious of managing and controlling costs, continued to invest in learning and development tailored to specific business requirements. The focus has remained on building the talent pool for the future which allows Dairygold to build a competitive advantage for the growth and expansion phase into the future. In 2012 Dairygold was a partner in launching the first ever online e-learning City and Guilds-accredited retail skills training programme in Ireland. Twelve employees participated on the pilot programme. The course objectives were met and exceeded from both the participants’ and the company’s perspectives.

Dairygold – learning and development



The business has further continued its commitment for talent development by designing a customised Dairygold Retail Development Programme. This 18-month six-module programme aims to build capability across their network of stores and forms part of their forward planning strategy. While most of these modules are accredited, it is the certification of this in-housedesigned programme which led to an oversubscription in 2013. Not only does each module

transfer the key skills in a classroom environment, participants are required to complete a store exchange in order to put the learning into practice before completing a work-based assignment. The current cohort of

‘Once again, our strength was that we were there with the products at the time they were needed.’ We are lucky that with our co-op structure, it means that members give their feedback very quickly. ‘Having your finger on the pulse is so important,’ says John. ‘We have looked at focus groups to build on this too.’


ship’ programme in conjunction with the IMI and recently received recognition from the Irish Institute of Training and Development for this programme. The aim of the programme is to ensure that the talent pipeline grows and develops as the business faces new challenges in the future. The programme incorporates best practice leadership tools and techniques into cross-functional workplace settings through its practical assignments supported by participant coaching.

With the abolishment of milk quotas coming on stream in 2015, the future is certainly bright for Dairygold. Farmers will be free to expand and increase their milk production. ‘They are gearing up for a new phase of profitable farming and the key to this is working more efficiently – we need to be there to

participants will qualify from this programme in March 2015 – the same time that the business will be starting its second programme. The business is currently running its second ‘Diploma in High Performance Leader-

support them,’ says John. ‘We in Co-op Superstores fully realise and appreciate that our customers are not all farmers but builders, gardeners, homeowners – in fact anyone in the community. As we say in our slogan: “Everything for you and your home!”’ ‘We have looked at our culture as an organisation,’ adds John. ‘We have structured programmes around developing our people and we see the future is bright. ‘As mentioned earlier we have significantly invested in our people strategy. ‘One of our key strengths is our knowledgeable, experienced and dedicated workforce. As we expand our range, our people are to the fore in

In 2010 an in-depth study of how businesses and HR functions were reacting to the economic recession indicated that training and development budgets were cut or eliminated in more than 60% of firms. The challenge identified was that, post-recession, such companies may find it difficult to respond. Research in 2014 indicates that budget cuts to learning and development is now the biggest barrier to business change and businesses’ ability to take advantage of the post recession era, points out Dairygold. Creating new opportunities for growth is the key focus of many business leaders and it is the talent pool who will realise these opportunities. With this in mind, Dairygold is in a strong position because of its continual focus on learning and development.

developing their personal knowledge and being able to use that knowledge when interacting with customers. ‘We have capitalised on our personal learning behaviour through collaborations with suppliers in delivering specific product knowledge training. ‘These themed events have been focused, and targeted key product ranges and promotional items. ‘In other words, in all areas of our business, from stove to garden care, from animal health to shed construction, we have experts available to assist our customers. ‘In general we do have a strong history of training and development of people and see that very much continuing with the design of our Retail Development

April 2014



Hardware & Homestyle


Gibney Steel Products Ltd

Blarney Trading the home of Ireland’s largest plastic sheeting wholesalers

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Our Products

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We supply Dairygold Co-op with the following list of products: Farm Gates, Gate Fittings, Cattle Troughs, Feed Barriers, Transport Boxes, Yardscrapers, Bale Lifters, Sheep Hurdles, Cubicles, Calf Dehorners, 4’ Hay Racks, Wheelbarrows and Manhole Covers

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April 2014

We would like to wish Dairygold Co-op continued success in the future.


Hardware & Homestyle Programme.’ Investing in people has allowed Dairygold to be recognised amongst its peers by winning awards such as Store Manager of the Year award two years in succession. ‘It was a great achievement,’ John notes. ‘We are a relatively small retailer and were up against competition from small independents and the large multiples. ‘To win once and then to follow it up again the next year with a different type of manager was wonderful. ‘As an organisation we were very proud.’


While farming is at the heart of Co-op Superstores, they continue to extend their offering to the community at large. Now considered Munster’s largest fuel retailer, they also picked up some Bord Bia 3 Star Accreditations for their Garden Centres this year. ‘We are seeing a major improvement in customer confidence in 2014,’ explains John. ‘People are starting to invest in their homes and gardens again with the aim of maximising the potential of the space they have as opposed to moving on. ‘We are well-positioned to support this work. ‘We constantly strive to meet the needs of our diverse range of customers.’ So with a clear vision of who they are and where they want to be, it seems the future is bright for Dairygold’s Retail business.

Former Retail Manager of the Year – Maria Fitzgerald, Cahir

‘Cahir continues to go from strength to strength since the Store Manager of the Year award in 2012. In 2013, we strengthened our gardening range and offering to cater for local needs and this has worked very well for us. ‘Throughout 2013 we held a number of in store events such as “Agri Open Days”, “Family Fun” & “Demo Days”, “Stove Expert Mornings”. We found these days particularly successful in building relationships between customer and supplier. ‘Customers are looking for all of the technical information to support their purchase and we are delighted to supply this through our knowledgeable staff and supportive suppliers. ‘On a personal level I’m currently completing my Green Belt on Continuous Improvement as part of Dairygold’s drive for a lean and efficient way of doing business. CI is very Customer Focused and describes anything that a customer is unwilling to pay for as waste. Everything we do is customer focused. ‘I find this of huge benefit personally and the benefits from the course are bearing fruit at branch level. ‘The key motivator is to deliver the highest quality of customer service excellence to all our customers. – that is always our top priority here in Cahir.’

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Visit our website April 2014


HR News

Hardware & Homestyle

Following on from my last article on employment contracts where I focused on what constitutes a contract of employment and the legal position, in this issue I will look at setting out the ‘written statement of particulars’ in the contract i.e. the essential elements of the document and how, if necessary, to amend a contract without risking a breach, writes Colin Madden.

Contracts of Employment (Part Two) Written Statement of Particulars. Any employee who has been employed for one month or more has the statutory right to a written statement of particulars of employment. Employment Rights, as amended by Irish and European legislation, set out the essential elements of the written statement of particulars of employment. Some information must be included in one document, where other information can be delivered in instalments.

The items that need to be included in the main document:

• names of the employer and employee • date when employment began • date on which the employee’s continuous employment began • scale or rate of remuneration or the method of calculating the remuneration • intervals at which remuneration is paid, that is: weekly, monthly or other specified intervals • terms and conditions relating to hours of work, including any terms and conditions relating to normal working hours • terms and conditions relating to entitlement to holidays, including public holidays and holiday pay, in such a manner as to allow them to be precisely calculated • job title or a brief description of the type of work the employee is employed to do • place of work or an indication that an employee is required or permitted to work at various locations


April 2014

Elements of the SOP that can be provided later in instalments:

• terms and conditions relating to incapacity for work due to sickness or injury, including any provision for sick pay • terms and conditions relating to pensions and pension schemes • length of notice the employee is required to give and receive to terminate the contract • where the employment is not intended to be permanent, the length it is intended to last, or the end date if it is for a fixed term • any collective agreements, which directly affect the terms and conditions of employment, including where the employer is not a party, the persons by whom they were made •where the employee is required to work outside Ireland for a period of one month or more, details of the time they are to work abroad, the currency they will be paid in, any additional remuneration payable and any benefits provided by reason of working outside Ireland and any terms relating to the employee’s return to Ireland. Where there are no particulars to be entered under any of these headings, then that fact should be stated, and all the above information should be given to the employee. While EU and Irish Employment legislation states certain items that must be included in the written statement of particulars, employers can refer their employees to their employee handbook or other policies for precise details of issues such as:

• documents relating to disciplinary and grievance rules and procedures • documents relating to sickness and pensions • documents relating to the detail of bonus or commission schemes • collective agreements • other terms that are not mandatory terms (for example, benefits such as car allowance, private health care, overtime, holiday arrangements, retirement). The written statement may additionally contain other clauses that an employer wishes to rely on. Where an engagement or offer letter or written contract sets out the main terms and conditions of employment, then this can be relied on as satisfying the requirements of the written statement.

The written statement of particulars must be provided within two months of the employment starting, although it can be given in instalments over those two months. Where an employer does not provide such a statement (or it is incomplete or inaccurate) then an employee may complain to an employment tribunal during employment, or for up to three months after employment has ended. There are exceptions to the requirement to provide a written statement of particulars for those employed for one month or less, or for employees in particular categories such as civil servants, some fisheries or agricultural roles or workers based overseas. However, it may still be advisable and good practice to provide such employees with

HR News

Hardware & Homestyle a written statement in order to avoid possible disputes between the parties.

Varying the contract of employment

Some employers mistakenly believe, once issued, a contract of employment is set in stone and cannot be changed. This is not the case. However, it is always advisable to be diligent and cautious when attempting to change the terms and conditions of a contract. Some matters can be changed without the agreement of the employee. Examples include noncontractual policies where these have been carefully drafted and where they clearly state that there is no intention for them to be incorporated into the contract. However, businesses should treat variations of the contractual terms cautiously as some changes may be considered to be a fundamental breach of contract that would permit an employee to resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal. An employer can try putting an express term into the contract which states that a particular term is variable. Whilst such clauses may encourage the employee to assume that the changes are permissible even an express clause will not guarantee that the employer can significantly vary a contractual term. There are three main options available to employers who do wish to alter the terms of an existing employment contract: 1. Agree the changes with the employee after

My view

consultation. A small incentive may be offered to encourage acceptance, and changes should then be implemented within reasonable timescales.

‘It is always advisable to be diligent and cautious when attempting to change the terms and conditions of a contract.’

It is essential that organisations follow the law, but it is also good practice to ensure that both employers and employees understand the basis on which employment has been agreed. Having a well drafted contract should enable this to happen. Drawing up a Contract of Employment can be straightforward once you cover the basics but amending an existing contract, although possible, is not and I would always recommend you seek professional advice if in doubt (i.e. by simply getting an employment lawyer to give the amended document the once over before you issue it).

This is the safest course of action. 2. Make any changes unilaterally. Even where there is a pressing business need to impose the changes, this may be risky. The employee’s silence cannot be taken as acceptance if the term does not affect the employee at the time the contract was varied; otherwise, the employer may assume acceptance if the employee continues to work without objection. The employee may choose instead to continue to work, but do so under protest and bring an action for breach of contract, resign and bring a claim for constructive unfair dismissal and/or wrongful dismissal*. 3. Terminate the employee’s contract by notice and offer them re-engagement on new terms and conditions. An employer may consider this option where changes cannot be agreed and where it appears too risky to impose the changes unilaterally. The employer must then offer re-engagement on the new terms immediately. Employers should be aware that this may be considered in law to be a redundancy dismissal*, therefore any rules around collective redundancy and consultation time limits should be observed. Any variations should be confirmed in writing within one

month of the changes taking place.

Additional points to consider

• While there is no legal requirement for employees to sign their written statement, it makes it easier for an employer to rely on any subsequent clause if they have done so. In the absence of this, it is advisable for employers to show they brought the statement to the employee’s attention. • Where employers wish clauses to be non-contractual, they should state this clearly when inserting them to ensure they cannot be relied on as implied by custom and practice. *I will cover the topics of redundancy, constructive unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal in more detail in later issues. Colin Madden is a senior HR and Organisational Change Consultant and Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (FCIPD) with over 25 years’ experience in recruitment, employee relations and workforce development including working at the London Development Agency (LDA), the Mayor’s office for economic improvement and skills, as a Senior Advisor on ‘People’. He can be contacted on

April 2014


Special Feature

Time to get busy – inside and out!

From new coatings to running repairs, somehow it all comes together at this time of year. In stores right around the country we are seeing a strong showing of products aimed at catering for the seasonal demand. We spoke to some of the suppliers to find out more.


April 2014

Hardware & Homestyle

LOCTITE Super Glue. Perfect for repairs, from the everyday to the irreplaceable. Our Universal Super Glue can handle just about any repair job. It’s quick and easy to use as well as dishwasher resistant, so ideal for fixing your favourite mug and other accidental breakages around your home.

Special Feature

Hardware & Homestyle UniBond Nails. No More Nails is a high strength adhesive that eliminates the need for nails and screws in many DIY and repair jobs. No More Nails is ideal for fixing skirting boards, dado rails, work tops, architraves, decorative wall panels, plasterboard, carpet and carpet grippers, covings, wood, metal, glass, ceramics, brick, concrete, cork and uPVC. Available in cartridge, kiwi pack and tube. No More Nails is water-based for easy clean up. With excellent grab, users don’t have to wait around for the grab to start working like solvent-based products, saving time and money, we are told. Drying white yet overpaintable, No More Nails is suitable for minor gap filling as well as bonding. No More Nails adheres to most common building materials. UniBond No More Nails is on a roll – and a strip! The famous power and reliability


of No More Nails is also available on a Roll and in a Strip. This double-sided, multipurpose adhesive format is powerful enough for nearly all your repair and fixing tasks, is the message. This ingenious idea from UniBond combines the strength and versatility of No More Nails ‘with the ease of use you would expect from a roll of tape or pack of strips’. The UniBond No More Nails Instant Grab tape range (on a Roll or Strip) sticks virtually anything and can adhere materials from brick, metal and wood to china, glass, ceramics and plastic. Easy for anyone to use, No More Nails strips or roll represent the ultimate in convenience for all your sticking tasks! Permanent or Removable. The range includes a permanent and removable version. The removable version can adhere firmly to a range of surfaces as listed above, and even after a long period of time, can be


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Special Feature IN CONVERSATION: KIERAN NOONAN, JOHNSTONE’S KEY ACCOUNTS MANAGER How is the market changing? Homeowners, inspired by lifestyle makeover programmes and magazines, increasingly want to make the most of any outdoor space they have, no matter how large or small it may be. The increased popularity of outdoor decking, stylish outdoor furniture and patio heaters have all helped extend the amount of use homeowners can make of outdoor space, which is quickly becoming seen as an extension of the home. As Irish weather can be unpredictable at the best of times, taking steps to protect woodwork in a garden or on a balcony from the elements, including the sun’s UV rays which can fade woodwork, is vital in order to keep it looking its best for longer. What type of product is performing well? Overall sales of woodcare products saw a rise of 16.5% last year, but the standout products of recent years are coloured woodcare products which have witnessed a huge rise with an increase of more than 155% in sales seen since 2008. The growing popularity of coloured woodcare products comes as homeowners want to make a statement and create a unique outdoor living space which reflects their personality. Johnstone’s Garden Colours range, which is available in six fresh colours including bright pinks, blues, greens and creams, provides an attractive opaque finish for garden furniture, sheds and pergolas without deadening the grain of the wood. Coloured paint is an ideal way to breathe new life into old furniture and brighten up any outdoor space with a striking splash of colour on even the dullest of days. As well as protecting wood from the elements all year round, paint from Johnstone’s Garden Colours range provides a finish which is resistant to fading and can last for up to four years. It’s also easy to apply and quick drying, ensuring even novice DIYers can tackle their project with confidence. What could independent retailers do to sell more? One of the most crucial skills, as a retailer, is the ability to listen to your customers and understand what they are looking for and which product will best meet their needs. Friendly, knowledgeable staff who are up to speed with the latest products and able to advise consumers with confidence of the key benefits of any product, are an invaluable tool retailers should harness in order to sell more. Having a good understanding of the market for coloured woodcare products and the benefits to customers will go a long way to increase sales in this particular sector. In addition, making sure supporting POS materials (preferably with images showing the finished product in different environments) are clearly visible is an ideal way to inspire customers and encourage them to try it out for themselves. Johnstone’s has listened to independent retailers’ demands and has created a selection of quality POS materials to support its Garden Colours range including colour card, strut card and shelf edge strip for retailers to use to drive sales. For more information about Johnstone’s range of products and how they can benefit your customers, please visit


April 2014

Hardware & Homestyle removed with no damage. The user simply twists the adhered object to one side and the strip and product are removed from the surface leaving no marks. Strip it! The permanent strips can fix items up to 3.2kg per strip, while the removable strips hold up to 2kg per strip. Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, the strips are quick and easy to apply. Roll with it! No More Nails on a roll is ideal for permanent fixing and holding different sized items, as it can be cut to a desired length. It comes in an ultra strong bond version that can hold up to 120kg per roll, perfect for indoor and outdoor use. The strong bond version (holds up to 50kg per roll) is specifically designed for indoor use and is perfect for hanging items such as mirrors, key hooks and tiles. Loctite – Made In Ireland. Loctite Super Glue is a top Irish brand made by Henkel – the world’s biggest adhesives company. Loctite Super Glue is a must-stock item for any store. The Universal instant adhesive is immediately recognisable and consumers often ask for it by name. ‘Loctite should be part of every household’s emergency repair kit for those inevitable breakages and small repair jobs.’ Loctite is made in Henkel’s world-class factory in Tallaght, and comes in a variety of formats – bottle, tube, and controlled dispenser – as well as formulations – liquid and gel. Ideal for impulse purchases around the till or on clip strips, Loctite is one of several number 1 brands in the Henkel range, a position which has been reinforced by massive TV support over the years. Loctite’s successful portfolio has recently been extended with the launch of two innovations. Power Flex, the premium Super Glue formula, is perfect for porous surfaces; this non-drip gel contains rubber particles for a flexible and strong bond.

Fleetwood Strategy 2014 Steven McQuillan of Fleetwood states that people who would normally have employed a decorator to paint their houses are often now doing it themselves. ‘People who turn to decorating for the first time can find themselves confused by all the different paints, finishes, qualities and accessories, for example,’ says Steven. ‘They need help to choose the right products. ‘Fleetwood’s strategy is to make it easier for them to quickly identify what exactly is needed. Products must be easy to understand, clearly labelled, simple to use and in attractive packaging.’ Says Steven: ‘At the end of the day they are also looking for good quality paint at reasonable prices – not necessarily the cheapest paint; they are aware that quality will always win out in the long run.’


Hardware & Homestyle

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Special Feature

Hardware & Homestyle

New Colortrend Interior Colour Collection

Colortrend launched their new palette for 2014 at the Spring Ideal Homes Show in the RDS. Working with the best designers, Colortrend has developed a palette that combines easy classic colours with fresh neutrals and bringing in fabulous accents to breathe life into any colour scheme. We will take a closer look at this in the next issue.

Power Easy’s innovative formulation allows the user to reposition and correct any mistakes. The non-irritant gel also overcomes the threat of immediate finger gluing. Fleetwood’s specialist hygiene coatings. Fleetwood has developed a range of specialist hygiene coatings, Bio-Tec, for use in a range of areas where hygiene protection is needed. ‘Bio-Tec silver ion is the latest in cutting edge technology developed by Fleetwood Paints’ chemists in conjunction with their many worldwide material suppliers,’ explains Fleetwood Paints spokesman Tom O’Connell. The advanced coating has been proven

to significantly reduce the spread of disease and infection – from MRSA and Salmonella to E. Coli – alongside regular cleaning procedures. Quick-drying to reduce disruption, the coating has been developed with advanced acrylic to be durable and capable of withstanding constant washing. Key to the effectiveness of Bio-Tec coating is silver ion technology. The coating contains antimicrobial agents including elemental silver molecules embedded within paint. When microbes come into contact with a painted surface, water molecules encounter the elemental silver, producing silver ions (Ag+). These silver ions will rise to the surface


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Special Feature

Hardware & Homestyle

Rustins Brick & Tile Paint. Rustins Brick & Tile paint is a matt red paint specially formulated on high quality alkyd resins and micronized pigments. This paint bonds exceptionally well to brick and tile, producing a durable and weather resistant matt finish. Ideal for interior and exterior use. Available sizes: 250ml, 500ml, 1Ltr, 2.5Ltr, 5Ltr New colours added to Rustins Decking Oil range. Rustins has added Natural Pine, Natural Cedar and Natural Oak to their Decking Oil range. These hard-wearing, water-resistant oils not only enhance the colour of your decking, but also leave a natural finish. They contain Ultra Violet light inhibitors, plus biocide which protects the oil against

mould and algae growth. Available in 2.5 litre and 5 litre, in Clear, Natural Pine, Natural Cedar and Natural Oak. Small Job Paint. Rustins Small Job paint is produced for small painting projects. A 250ml tin covers 3.25sq m. Small Job paint is ideal for children’s toys and furniture as it conforms to the Toys (Safety) Regulations 1995, BS:EN71 Part 3. Rustins Small Job paint is available in a wide range of colours: Black, Buckingham Green, Buttercup, Candy Pink, Chocolate, County Cream, Delphinium, Pearl Grey, Magnolia, Oxford Blue, Poppy and white. Available sizes: 250ml Teak Oil. Rustin’s Teak Oil is based on vegetable oils and resins to give a quick-drying penetrating seal to teak, cedar and all bare wood. This oil is easily applied with a

brush or cloth and gives an attractive sheen to interior and exterior surfaces. Available sizes: 250ml, 500ml, 1ltr, 2.5ltr, 5ltr

April 2014


Special Feature of the painted area, attaching themselves to microbes and inhibiting growth. Under the Japanese JIS Z 2801:2000 test, which simulates real life conditions by introducing live bacteria and monitoring under ambient temperature and humidity conditions for 24 hours, the coating showed dramatic success in containing potential infection. Bio-Tec significantly outperforms standard paint in containing a range of harmful bacteria, including MRSA, E. Coli and pseudomonas aeruginosa. Outside the laboratory, Bio-Tec coatings have been successfully deployed in topclass Irish hospitals. ‘Bio-Tec has been on the market for six years now,’ says Tom O’Connell. ‘Both the Maternity Hospital and St. James’s have been using this product for many years in its many different versions.’ Other recently completed projects include applications in the Beacon Hospital, Galway Clinic, Castlerea Prison, Boston Scientific, Elan, Allergan Pharmaceutical and the Department of Defence. Thanks to an acrylic resin system, BioTec is a scrubbable, durable coating, with an excellent abrasion resistance that can withstand repeated cleaning cycles. A water base ensures quick drying, which also reduces the disruption caused by painting. ‘The implementation of Bio-Tec coating lengthens the maintenance cycle for facilities, a major consideration when pressure is continually applied to budgets,’ we are told. DS Supplies Ltd now stock a contemporary pre-finished (maintenance free) range of MDF skirting, architrave and door frames called the Novo range which is available in Natural Oak, White Oak, Walnut and White. The Novo Skirting is 120mm high and is available in 2.4m lengths, the Novo Architrave is 70mm high and is available in 2.2m lengths.

From DS Supplies


April 2014

Hardware & Homestyle The Door Frame sets are available in sets to suit block work and studded walls, 109mm & 131mm. These sets come with a loose door stop. All the door framing sets are individually shrink wrapped, coded and barcoded. Also in the range is the Novo Uni-Slip which is perfect for repairing and or tidying unsightly gaps. The Novo Uni-Slip acts as an internal 90° profile or an external 90° profile. Ideal for finishing wardrobes, furniture, shelving units, radiator covers and flooring expansion gaps, etc. also perfect as a corner protector. Contact the sales office on 00 353 1 4011666 or info@ All of their products can also be viewed on

Ronseal Ultimate Decking Stain is available in a Perfect Finish pack, which comes with a unique Perfect Finish Pad making application quick and easy! New Ultimate Protection Decking Oil For many people, real beauty is about a natural look, which makes oil the perfect choice for their decking. Protecting decking from footfall, aging and the weather is no mean feat. A mixture of all three can mean having to reapply decking oils more than is necessary just to protect the wood. The new Ultimate Decking Oil from Ronseal is specifically developed to withstand all of these tests. Ronseal Ultimate Decking Oil is available in a Perfect Finish pack, which comes with a unique Perfect Finish Pad making application quick and easy. Woodland Colour range. Meanwhile, sprucing up old garden furniture is perfect for Spring DIY. Woodland colours is an ideal product to add a little colour to the garden. The Woodland Colours range provides long-lasting colour and complements the natural surroundings of the garden. The formula locks colour into the garden wood showing off its natural beauty with an opaque matt finish. The added waxes make the paint waterproof and durable in just one hour. A variety of colours available: Wood Sage, Willow, Elderflower, Seagrass, Evergreen, English Oak, Hazel, Bramble, White Ash, Bluebell, Cornflower, Fern, Cherry Blossom, Spring Grass, Sapling Green & Silver Birch

In terms of trends, whitewash or coloured decking is huge this year.

Ronseal Ultimate Decking Stain In terms of trends, whitewash or coloured decking is huge this year. Ultimate Protection Decking Stain from Ronseal is quick and easy to use and guarantees a fresh look for as long as possible. It comes in a range of contemporary colours including Charcoal, Slate, White Wash and Stone Grey and guarantees to make a statement. Ultimate Decking Stain lasts twice as long as standard decking stains, and the advanced weather resistant technology will protect decks from the wettest summers. It will resist peeling and fading and the formula offers greater hardness to provide ‘unrivalled protection from foot traffic’.

Buy The Book

Hardware & Homestyle

Small Space Big Ideas

Me And My Job Name: Derek Miller

by Philippa Pearson Published by Dorling Kindersley £16.99 Stg

Current position: Vice President, Global Marketing, International Housewares Association

‘Create your dream garden on a windowsill, wall, step, staircase, balcony, porch or patio.’ Don’t be limited by a small garden space! This is a book with a simple but engaging premise: ‘If you’ve always wanted to grow beautiful plants and tasty fruit and veg, but don’t feel you have the space, Small Space Big Ideas can show you how.’

Length of time in present role: 14 years


Whether you have a small apartment or flat or some balcony space, you can grow a beautiful small garden, from nothing more than a window box, step, staircase, wall, porch or patio. That is the message in this beautiful new offering from Dorling Kindersley, publishers. And Small Space Big Ideas is certainly full of small garden ideas to inspire you to make creative use of every possible growing space in your home – and find some you never knew existed! There are 40 step-by-step projects that draw on inexpensive ‘upcycling’ ideas and home-made style with useful techniques for small space gardening, such as installing water systems and outdoor electricity. The reader will be guided through how to assess a small garden site and how to cope with growing conditions associated with such small gardens.


Beautiful projects such as prairie-style balcony planting and exotic hanging baskets will brighten up a home and if you want to be part of the grow-your-own trend there are projects for edibles, such as summer salads from your windowsill and herbs on your staircase. Small Space Big Ideas is ‘perfect for anyone looking to add a little bit of Eden to their patio, balcony garden, hanging baskets, roof garden or vertical garden’.

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Professional background: Master’s Degree in International Management, ‘Thunderbird’ American Graduate School of International Management, USA Bachelor of Science Degree, Marketing Concentration, Colorado State University, USA What attracted you to your current position? I joined the International Housewares Association (IHA) in late 1999 after working for a housewares manufacturer for the prior four years. The industry experience enabled me to understand the opportunities and challenges that face our members each and every day. The primary goal of the Association is to bring buyers and sellers together, but digging a bit deeper, it’s about helping the industry build better businesses. It’s highly gratifying when you can play a key role in someone’s success! What do you see as your main goals and challenges in 2014? IHA’s primary goal is the continued successful operation of the International Home + Housewares Show, which takes place in Chicago each March. Our board of directors reminds the IHA staff on a regular basis not to take our eyes off of that goal. Life in 2014 is busier than ever, so even the best marketing campaign can be easily missed – the greatest challenge is to create marketing messaging that is meaningful and impactful enough to capture ‘mind-share’. What have been the highpoints for you? The success of the gia Global Innovation Award program. Fourteen years ago, the IHA created gia to honour housewares retailers worldwide. What began as an idea has successfully grown, and today, gia has honoured close to 300 retailers from over 25 different countries. Winning a gia country award or a gia Global Honoree has become a highly competitive and coveted honour. Presenting the awards in Chicago at the International Home + Housewares Show in March is certainly a highpoint of the year! What do you see as the main challenges facing the industry? Political and economic instability are two key factors that hinder growth in most sectors, and the housewares industry is no exception. It’s these global challenges that concern me the most. Is there anyone who has been inspirational to you or who you particularly admire in the industry? Martin M. Pegler is the first to come to mind. He’s considered the world’s foremost authority on visual merchandising and display and has had an amazing career that has spanned decades. As Martin is an expert member of the gia jury, I’ve had the privilege of working alongside him for the past 14 years. He’s in his 90s, full of energy and always has a wonderful story that makes you think. A wonderful, hard-working gentleman I admire greatly!

April 2014



Hardware & Homestyle

A smooth and successful transition of the business from one generation to the next is often a key aspiration of the family business founder. However, according to Mairead O’Grady, Partner at Russell Brennan Keane, Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers, achieving this goal can be fraught with difficulties if it is not planned well and planned early.

Family businesses can be fraught! Research has shown that less than 30% of family businesses survive into the third generation. For the minority that manage succession successfully it can bring many benefits to the business such as continuity of values and approach, strong identity and commitment, greater loyalty and flexibility. However, if succession is not managed well, it can cause long-term conflict within the business and the family, and ultimately lead to the demise of the business and maybe even a split in the family.


A number of major decision points that can impact on family harmony are connected to succession issues, in particular on the entry and exit of family members: •Who wants to work in the business? •What might their role be? •When do they join? •Do they gain outside experience first? •What if they are not suitable? In addition, leadership succession also has a major impact: •Is there an obvious successor? •Is he/she interested in taking over? •How will the rest of the family react? •When is the right time? •What training/coaching/mentoring is needed? •How will the outgoing owner manage his/her exit? •What role will s/he play post exit?

Current Economic Environment

‘The economic environment over the past few years has brought both challenges and opportunities to the Irish family business,’ says Mairead. ‘These uncertain times have put pressure on family business owners to stay on longer in the business, either

Mairead O’Grady

due to the erosion of their wealth or to assist the business to survive. ‘The current business environment has also forced companies to focus on short-term survival at the expense of longer term planning.’ Another feature of the current times is the pressure on businesses to employ family members even if they are not suitable for roles in the business – this may have farreaching consequences for succession issues in the future as once they join a family business it can be difficult to get family members to move out of the business if they are not suitable and they may bring a sense of entitlement to future ownership or they may block another suitable successor.

‘If succession is not managed well, it can cause long-term conflict.’

Tax and Timing

Whether now is the right time to transfer the business will depend on the business itself and family circumstances – however, according to Mairead O’Grady, Tax Partner at Russell Brennan Keane, now is the time to start planning for two main reasons. The first is the fact that the value of most businesses has fallen significantly in the current economic climate which is perhaps the only silver lining as the lower the business value, the lower the associated tax cost of transferring it. The second driver is the stated intention of the last Minister for Finance to restrict the existing generous suite of tax reliefs available for transferring a family business. There are a number of tax planning mechanisms that can be implemented as part of the transfer and, whilst owners will have a number of concerns

when contemplating a transfer, there are other mechanisms that can be put in place to ensure that they continue to have a significant input into the business following the transfer and that adequate provision is made for them out of the business in the future.

Achieving Family and Business Harmony

Building a successful business takes hard work and sacrifice, and seeing it successfully handed over to the next generation can be very rewarding for the business founder. Protecting family harmony is a major concern that influences decision-making processes and can cause some owners to avoid tackling the succession issue. ‘Succession is often forced upon you by an illness, an untimely death, the unexpected exit of potential successors, or other unforeseen events,’ is the message. ‘This can then lead to conflicts, rivalry and a lack of trust between family members.’ Where difficulties are being experienced in the area of family harmony, it is recommended bringing in a neutral advisor to assist the business in the succession-planning process. In the short-term this will bring peace of mind to the owner and family and in the longer term it will help to secure the legacy of the family business into the future. ‘Business-wise’ is presented in association with Russell Brennan Keane.

A chartered certified accountant and an AITI Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA), Mairead is a Registered Tax Consultant of the Irish Taxation Institute since 1995. She leads the Family Business team within Russell Brennan Keane (Accountants, Taxation Consultants and Business Advisers) which advises families and individuals on all aspects of family business from the critical strategic issues that the family business owners face to the day-to-day issues. Frequently providing commentary at seminars and client workshops, Mairead has significant experience in directly advising clients on the taxation and financing of family businesses and has successfully completed numerous business transfers and disposals along with advising on and implementing succession and related issues. Further information or to discuss specific requirements confidentially contact Mairead at 01 6440100 / 090 6480600 or by email at


April 2014


Hardware & Homestyle

RKW distributes Stretch Hose on back of major TV campaign

Leading housewares and electrical distributor, RKW, will be distributing the revolutionary Stretch HoseTM, on the back of a £700k-plus TV advertising campaign, starting mid-May, we are told.

Brighten up laundry days and dry clothes the smart way

Brabantia has made drying clothes an even more stylish and enjoyable experience with the introduction of its Smart Clothes Pegs.

Differentiate Whitford recently told us about new colours and effects developed by their R&D ‘to help differentiate final products at retail’. Launched at Ambiente in February 2014, Whitford’s wide range of consumer coatings for interior and exterior now have some special effects: spatter, silk-screen and pad-print. The picture illustrates one of Whitford’s new effect coatings, the colour imitating the appearance of natural stone, which represents one of the latest trends in the cookware market. Following a successful launch, Whitford will exhibit at Exclusively Housewares, London, stand 423, 10-11 June.

Irish Flooring Products

Unique Stretch Hose is an ultra-lightweight, selfpropelling, expandable hosepipe. Its unique, dual-layer construction means it will not kink, bind or tangle, so water flows smoothly, at full power, all the time. Richard Hearn, RKW, says, ‘This is a truly amazing, groundbreaking product. The UK TV advertising campaign will be aired just as people are getting their gardens ready for Summer. ‘Stretch Hose is the perfect profitbooster for multiples, independents, DIY outlets and garden centres. The packaging looks fantastic, and is easy to carry and display - plus we have a range of highimpact Stretch Hose FSDUs available.’ Stretch Hose expands up to three times its original length when turned on, and reels itself in, ready for storage, when the water is turned off. Stretch Hose can be used for gardens, car washing and many other jobs.

Guarantee Stretch Hose is tough, compact and flows smoothly over all types of surface. Each Stretch Hose comes with a free gun nozzle, with eight spray settings, plus a 12-month guarantee. Stretch Hose is available in 25, 50, 75 and 100 feet lengths. A short video, showing Stretch Hose in action, is available at: watch?v=KUFwMTbZ8Tw For more information on how RKW can help you profit from Stretch Hose, contact the RKW sales team on 00 44 844 826 9361, via or visit www.rkw. co View it on our website

Perfect way The ergonomically designed all-weather 100% plastic Smart Clothes Pegs are the perfect way to secure the washing without the risk of rust stains. In lavender/grey the Smart Clothes Pegs have a non-skid surface that grips your clothes securely but gently. The Soft Touch ergonomic design and smooth surface make the pegs a pleasure to use. Keep pegs within easy reach and store in Brabantia’s Clothes Peg Bag available in Black, Mustard, Turquoise, Aubergine and Purple!

Whitford range of coatings

Whitford manufactures a wide range of coatings based on fluoropolymer and solgel technology – commonly known as nonstick and ceramic coatings – for the cookware, bakeware and small electrics market sectors.

Bill Kelly and the team at Irish Flooring Products are celebrating 15 years in business. We recently caught up with Bill and he shared his thoughts: ‘It has been a tough few years out there and we have all suffered at the hands of this recession, but unlike some of our competitors we didn’t join the race to the bottom,’ said Bill. ‘We didn’t reduce the quality of any of our products, but at the same time we managed to hold our prices – that fact alone says a lot about why we are still here.

Quality ‘Our customers have grown to expect best quality flooring profiles from us, and they also know that it is our price list that sets the benchmark in the industry. ‘I am hugely proud to say that when a competitor comes to market – it is us they look to – they look at our price list to see where the market is. ‘That is no mean achievement for a small family business, up against some of the goliaths of the flooring world.’ We also asked Bill what he had planned for the year ahead. ‘We have been installing display stands in retail outlets for as long as we have been in business,’ he said.

Outlets ‘The one thing that crops up time and time again is that no two outlets are the same. ‘No two outlets carry the same products, and no two outlets have the same space to allocate. ‘To address this we decided to make bespoke stands for each outlet and we have had huge success with this approach since last year. ‘We have custom stands installed in some of the most high profile hardware outlets in the country and we are now offering this service to anyone who wants to talk to us. ‘Whatever you need to work in your store – we can build it for you.’ April 2014


Room outside

Hardware & Homestyle

About once a month Liam Kelly works on the floor at different garden centres. This, he says, is invaluable experience. Yet, many managers and owners don’t seem to make the same effort.

Getting Your Hands Dirty

Looking at your business from another angle As a garden centre consultant, it is fair for you to assume I spend my days in offices looking at figures, or perhaps on the shop floor with a clipboard in one hand, a pen in the other and a thoughtful expression on my face, or even dictating what I feel needs to be done by both staff and management to improve a business and set them in the right direction.


And of course you would be right, as this is a large part of what I do, but there’s another important way in which I work too. Every so often – about once a month – I work on the floor in different centres getting my hands dirty, literally. I work with product, talk frankly with staff and – perhaps most importantly – interact with the customers who come to the business to buy plants or get information or just for a look around. This is invaluable to me as it helps me gauge plant and product quality from different suppliers, makes me aware of new products of which I am unfamiliar, and lets me gauge how the public feel about gardening, prices, stock and every other thought they have about gardens in general and that centre in particular.


April 2014

Quite frankly I couldn’t do what I do without this interaction and physical work, as it keeps me sharp for the client and means I can coach staff on a one-toone basis. And a little exercise does me no harm either! But it still amazes me how managers and owners of many business don’t make the same effort.


There have been a number of reality TV shows on this subject and however you feel about how honest they are or how their editing tends to favour entertainment over real-life, the fact of the matter is that they do give an insight in to how the business is perceived by management to operate versus how it actually does operate. Although I’ve never seen garden centres featured in this kind of television show they are one of the businesses where the boss could learn a lot from such an experience. Of course this kind of experiment only works on bigger centres and departmentalised stores, not small garden centres where the owner is already doing much of the buying, selling

and hoofing. Also, unlike the TV shows, it is almost impossible to do it in an anonymous way, at least from a staff awareness point of view. But it’s still worth getting your hands dirty and giving it a shot! Here are a few things you might pick up on, as I have in various centres. Most are logical when they are pointed out – or observed – but are you aware of them and do they apply to your business?

Knowledge and Confidence Sell Product

Many a garden centre and hardware store has employed a ‘horticulturist’ (as I mentioned in other articles, I hate the word!) in order that they can have someone on their payroll who can answer those awkward questions and who can tell a primrose from a polyanthus. But these plantspeople are not always the best sales people, or even peoplepeople! Confidence and an outgoing personality are equally as important as knowledge when it comes to selling. I have witnessed in stores many a horticulturist getting bogged down in Latin names, spending too much time

Room outside

Hardware & Homestyle

trying to nurse a clearly-past-it plant back to health or dithering over which fertiliser or compost to recommend to a customer. Customers quickly pick up on this vagueness and lack of product confidence, and tend to avoid these people in future, if not the store. I would much prefer to see a staff member with enough product knowledge and tons of confidence who can say to a customer, ‘Yes, this is what you need.’ Watch how your staff interact with customers.

Product Size Matters

Are you selling the right size products to suit your customer’s needs? Consider compost sizes. The small 10 litre sizes are too small and unprofitable and the large bales are unwieldy and hard to get in and out of cars. If you observe how customers shop for compost you will see that most customers no longer want the large bales of compost as they find them hard to manage, most prefer a medium-sized 50 or 60 litre bag, which they can load into trolleys, car boots and sheds. Have you ever seen someone struggle with large bales of compost? It’s not pretty, or safe for that matter. Admittedly the supplier-suggested offers on medium size bags tend not to be as good for a business as the larger bales but why not make your own offer giving you that cash profit? Have a look at how your customers shop for compost and what they say about your sizes.

Shopping Trolley Positions are Important

The norm in some garden centres, and many hardware stores is to have shopping trolleys outside the front door of their business and perhaps one or two near the compost if the customer is lucky. Watch your customers. They rarely bring in a trolley from the front door, as you are not a supermarket. They reach a point within the shop or

plant area when their basket gets too heavy or hands can’t hold enough. Then where do they head? Back to the till to pay because it’s the easiest option available to them. This means lost sales! The point where you should have your trolleys is the point where your customer starts looking for one. Only observation and dealing with customers will show you where this point is in your centre. And the same is true for shopping baskets. They should be with your seeds, bulbs and chemicals, not in a large stack at the till area.

Make decision-making easy

If you watch how customers shop a garden care aisle of chemicals and fertilisers you will note that they rarely shop in the way you think they do. They will often stand staring at the shelves in desperation, not knowing what to choose to solve their particular problem, and it’s up to you to be their saviour.

Needful Things: It should be all go at the moment but don’t get lost in the flow of stock coming in and out of your business. Stay customer focused at all times! Add-on sales really pay off at this time of year so make sure your staff are trained to recommend garden care products to go with customers’ purchases. Make space in your store for the volume of people coming through. Make sure hotspot selling points are fully visible and baskets and trolleys are accessible. Bulbs and Seeds will continue to sell so keep them topped up and faced forward. Colour, Colour, Colour are the three most important things at this time of year. Don’t run out of flowering plants and colourful pots! Terracotta Pots sell best at this time of year when their colour suits the weather. Stock up and combine with contrasting plants in lavender and blue shades.

The use of POS that says, ‘I’m the best for Killing Weeds on Paths’, or ‘Use me to Control Greenfly’ tell them quickly and clearly what they need to buy. Depending on the demographic of your customer you will find that, for example, older gardeners tend to know what they want with regard to fertilisers. But because so many of the older weed killers and pest controls have now gone from the market they can be pretty confused about what to buy. Use a, ‘I Will do the Same Job as “product x”’, to show when a replacement chemical has come out that will achieve the same results for the customer. This should help stop them walking away in frustration!

Don’t Lose Focus on the Customer

If you watch how staff members work you will see that many are overly taskfocused and tend to lose themselves in their work to the detriment of customer care. Being on the shop floor lets you see this and means you can give them a gentle reminder that customers need interaction and sometimes even help! I have been tempted in some stores to get them to install a buzzer on a timer set at 20 minute intervals to remind staff to look up from their work and walk around the store checking in with customers! Perhaps some gentle coaxing and coaching will work just as well! These are just five general observations but there will be many more that are specific to your store. I would suggest that at least once a month you put on that uniform and name badge and get out on the floor. Have your breaks with staff and talk to the customers, look at how stock arrives in to your store and how it leaves. If you don’t find out at least a couple of things that can be changed to make your business function better and be profitable I will be surprised. So next time you see me with dirt under my fingernails, moving a trolley of plants, merchandising with staff or chatting with customers then don’t disturb me – I’m doing research! Have you done yours? April 2014


Room outside

Hardware & Homestyle

Garden Centre Award Winners As we saw in our news STAR sectionGOLD this month Bord Bia presented its Amenity Horticulture Awards for the garden industry at a reception in its Dublin-based headquarters. The Awards recognise and promote excellence across three key sectors of the industry while celebrating the industry’s dedication to achieving STAR the highest standards of operation.






Rachel Doyle – Arboretum



Dairygold Co-op Superstores – Carrigaline Dairygold Co-op Superstores – Midleton Dairygold Co-op Superstores – Mallow Dairygold Co-op Superstores – Raheen D&M Garden Centre & Restaurant STAR Easy Garden Centre Glanbia CountryLife – Ballyhale Glanbia CountryLife – Monasterevin Glanbia CountryLife – Mountmellick Keans Arro Kilcannon Garden Centre & Restaurant Windyridge Nursery & Garden Centre



Glanbia CountryLife – Ashford Glanbia CountryLife – Castlecomer Glanbia CountryLife – Dungarvan Glanbia CountryLife – Fethard Glanbia CountryLife – Kilmeaden Glanbia CountryLife – New Ross Glanbia CountryLife – Tullamore Ratoath Garden Centre

Fernhill Garden Centre Griffins Garden Centre Ltd Newlands Home & Garden Centre Arboretum Lifestyle & Garden Centre Cois na hAbhann, Garden, Home & Lifestyle Centre

Cois na h’Abhann


Orchard Home and Garden




April 2014

Garden Centre Quality Awards - Special Awards


Best Customer Service & Facilities

Arboretum Lifestyle & Garden Centre

Best Product Information & Signage

Orchard Home and Garden

Best Plant Quality

Ratoath Garden Centre

Best Plant Merchandising & Display

Cois na hAbhann, Garden, Home & Lifestyle Centre

Best New Entry

Easy Garden Centre

Best Local Plant Supplier (voted by the garden centres)

O’Connor Nurseries

Bord Bia Plant Centre of the Year

Windyridge Nursery & Garden Centre

Bord Bia DIY/Garden Centre of the Year

Glanbia CountryLife - Castlecomer

Bord Bia Garden & Lifestyle Centre of the Year Small

Cois na hAbhann, Garden, Home & Lifestyle Centre

Bord Bia Garden & Lifestyle Centre of the Year Large

Orchard Home and Garden


Hardware & Homestyle

Room outside

Bord Bia continues to keep busy as the following run down demonstrates! Bord Bia’s Marketing Assistance Programme provided assistance worth over €200,000 to amenity horticulture companies between 2009 and 2013 enabling them to enhance their capabilities and pursue new opportunities. The Supplier Development Programme, designed to provide targeted training and mentoring in this industry, facilitated five participants in securing new business and increasing supplies with multiples to a value exceeding €2.4 million. Commentating further on Bord Bia’s industry role, Carol Marks, development and marketing specialist, Bord Bia adds: ‘The continued development and use of the Bord Bia Quality Mark on plants from Quality Assured Irish nurseries has been well received and will have a significant role in the future growth of the industry with consumer recognition of 89% and the move toward supBloom manager, garden centres are expected porting local industry.’ Gary Graham to attend, creating a unique In 2014, Bord Bia opportunity to showcase Ireland’s continues to promote the amenity horticulture industry to a glob‘It’s Garden Time’ campaign to al audience, including buyers. encourage the general public to make The GLAS trade show, supported by the most of their gardens throughout the Bord Bia, will also return on 24 July to year. provide an environment geared for busiThe campaign directs consumers to ness and networking and is attended by the Bord Bia website, itsgardentime, where a range of tips and key buyers in the retail sector. advice is available. Bord Bia’s annual gardening and Meanwhile preparations are underway lifestyle show, Bloom, will return to the for the International Garden Centre World Phoenix Park, Dublin for its eighth year Congress which will be held in Ireland from Thursday, 29 May until Monday, 2 from 10 – 15 August. June. For more information, visit www. Up to 200 delegates from international


Pictures from SPOGA+GAFA

Bord Bia supports and plans for 2014

Other events of note include the Rare & Special Plant Fair which will take place on Sunday, 12 May in Russborough, Blessington, Co. Wicklow.

4STAR April 2014


The Final Say

Hardware & Homestyle

As customers, we know what it is like to be on the receiving end of both good and appalling customer service. Oh yes, we do tend to remember the extremes! So says James Sweetman. Time for a reminder of the Golden Rules.

Customer Service – The Golden Rules Great customer service is still the exception rather than the rule. Most businesses say they place the customer first, but many firms, if they were really honest would acknowledge that the manager’s ego, out-dated business practices, laziness, the credit controller, all precede the customer in their true hierarchy of priorities.

6. Know how to apologize. When 13. It is a vital part of a manager’s job to something goes wrong firms actively listen to what front line staff that excel at customer service has to say and to act on it. One apologise immediately of the reasons why a manager and take ownership of earns a higher salary is the issue. The customer to remove the obstacles What can you give may not always be right, hampering front line staff customers that is but the customer must from delivering the best totally unexpected? always feel there is an service they can. (Problems equitable solution. Deal arise when the manager is with problems immediately the obstacle!) I’ve delivered a number of Customer and keep the customer Service workshops with clients recently informed of what you are doing. 14. Companies that excel in where I’ve shared with them the golden customer service do not design their rules of customer service. Let me list 7. Supervisors and managers must business processes and procedures by them for you now. remember that responsibility is the assuming the worst in their staff or their obligation to act, not just to accept the customers. 1. Friendliness is compulsory. We all want blame. to deal with pleasant people. 15. It is impossible to improve customer 8. Companies that excel in customer service without addressing company 2. Customers want to feel special. This service find a way to say ‘yes’ to customer culture issues. means you interact with them on their requests rather than falling back on Great customer service is about giving terms, asking questions to uncover their the lazy response of ‘no’ or ‘it’s against more than is expected. Since the future of needs and most importantly listening to procedure’. all companies lies in keeping customers what they are saying. happy, it is always beneficial to think 9. Front line staff must have the training, of ways to elevate yourself above the 3. Customer service is not just about the resources and the freedom to solve competition. what you do. It is about who you are. customers’ problems. We all know the benefits of delivering You have to have a genuine interest in quality customer service are substantial. people, to be willing (not just able) 10. Good customer service means Happy, satisfied customers are easy to to listen to them and identify, trusting staff to use their deal with and they become an unpaid even anticipate, their needs. judgement because the sales force that will recommend your I had an experience in a first person to encounter a products and services to others. restaurant recently where What can you give customer’s problem is the Customers, who have a good I had to take a phone customers that best person to deal with it. experience once, are likely to return, call. Without prompting, they cannot get thereby generating repeat business. my plate was taken back elsewhere? 11. It has to be easy to Loyal, satisfied customers also have to the kitchen so the do business with you. At greater tolerance for change and price food could be kept hot, a minimum this means you increases. lovely touch that showed are contactable, phone calls Finally, all customer service tips or attentiveness and empathy. are returned, emails are answered golden rules can be summarised in and opening hours suit the customer’s two simple principles – put yourself in 4. Sincerity. As customers, we are requirements. the customer’s shoes and show your sensitive creatures and we know whether customers that you care. the service provider genuinely cares 12. A manager’s job is to motivate staff about us or not. to do their best for the customer and to create a positive, empowered working 5. Mistakes will happen. It is how the environment. Money/financial reward situation is retrieved that is vital. Errors doesn’t achieve this, good leadership are inevitable; dissatisfied customers are does. not.




James Sweetman is a Business & Personal Coach specialising in assisting businesses and individuals realise their potential. He works both on a one-2-one basis with clients as well as delivering workshops on a range of topics including Communication Skills and Motivation. For more information on all his services visit Or e-mail him at You can subscribe for free to James’s monthly ezine at and follow him on Twitter @JamesSweetman


April 2014

Shop Fitting Shelving Signage Manufacture Point of sale Store 2000 Ireland Limited, Unit 5,The Business Centre , F o n t h i l l I n d u s t r i a l P a r k , Dublin 22 T: 0 1 6 2 6 11 2 7, F : 0 1 6 2 3 7 4 5 2 , E: l i n d a @ s t o r e 2 0 0 0 . i e

Shannon Street, Mountrath, Co. Laois Tel: 1850 201 765

Shannon Street, Mountrath,

Everything’s in

The Garden GaT

The Garden GaTe

Shannon 201 A wide range of garden and A wide range of garden and farm timber products Shannon Street, Street, Mountrath, Mountrath, Co. Co. Laois Laois Tel: Tel: 1850 1850 201 765 765 including gates, fencing pa including gates, fencing panels, post and rail fencing, Comfybed garden furniture, garden sh garden furniture, garden sheds, log cabins, gazebos, pergolas, children’s play eq pergolas, children’s play equipment, BBQ’sequine and a range of equestrian products supp of equestrian products supported by effective bedding merchandising and comple merchandising and complete B2B marketing support. Shannon Street, Mountrath, Co. Laois Tel: 1850 201 765 Shannon Street, Mountrath, Co.Garden Laois Tel: 1850 201 765 The GaTe

A wide range of garden and farm timber products including gates, fencing panels, post and rail fencing, garden furniture, garden sheds, log cabins, gazebos, pergolas, children’s play equipment, BBQ’s and a range of equestrian productsGaTe supported by effective The Garden The Garden GaTe merchandising and complete B2Btimber marketing support. A wide range of garden and farm products 5 days of flowers, food, family fun & fashion! A wide range of gardenincluding and farmgates, timber products fencing panels, post and rail fencing, THURS 29 MAY – MON 2 JUNE 2014, including gates, fencing panels, post and rail fencing, garden furniture, garden sheds, log cabins, gazebos, garden furniture, garden sheds, log cabins,play gazebos, PHOENIX PARK, DUBLIN pergolas, children’s equipment, BBQ’s and a range pergolas, children’s play equipment,products BBQ’s and a rangeby effective of equestrian supported Tickets available from Sheerans.indd 1 Sheerans.indd 1 29/07/2008 11:34:24 of equestrian productsmerchandising supported by effective and complete B2B marketing support. merchandising and complete B2B marketing support. Growing the success of Irish food & horticulture In association with:

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Hardware & Homestyle April