Page 1

July/August 2013

Hardware & Homestyle


Contents 14





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 Welcome to the first issue of Hardware & Homestyle News! There’s no doubt about it, Hardware and Homestore retailing has undergone a seismic shift in recent years. We know this because our team has had a ringside seat on developments. We talk to the trade. We visit the stores. We meet the suppliers. We listen to what YOU have to say. As a result, we have an unrivalled knowledge of this sector amongst media personnel. We know how traditional hardware stores have had to adapt, to widen their remit, to bring in new lines, to ‘soften’ their offering, to bring customer service to the next level. We know that the ‘heavier’ end has been hit hard. There will always be a market for construction materials and we will watch this closely. But even here we have seen changes. Customers at the trade counters now range from professionals to homeowners who need that extra advice and guidance. We know also that the ‘heavier’ products have been joined by an even greater range of items at the ‘lighter’ end. Many stores concentrate solely on Homewares now. Garden retail meanwhile, has found new areas of emphasis. Last but not least, we know how suppliers have responded and adapted in the face of changing market demands. This is our aim too. So here is our offer: up to date coverage of Homewares, DIY, Building Materials, White Goods, Home Entertainment, Lifestyle and Garden Retail markets – featuring News, Features, Products, Profiles and relevant Business Information from a team that lives and breathes this business. Read by decision makers throughout the Island of Ireland. We hope you enjoy our first issue. Talk to you soon!

Martin Foran, Editor

News McKeown’s World Lead Story

4 13 14

Feargal Quinn, a man for all seasons

Retail Ireland News Profile

17 19

Bandon Co-op

The Homefront Special Feature

30 35

Paint, Coatings & Accessories

Me And My Job Buy The Book Special Report

39 39 41

DIY, Products & Accessories

Product News 48 The Room Outside 50 Tech Talk 52 HR Guidebook 53 The Final Say 54

Hardware & Homestyle News

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: Advertising Sales: Marion Earner Email: Design/Layout: Jim Heron Email: Printed by: W&G Baird Ltd, Antrim


Hardware & Homestyle News

Business blooms in the park

Over 110,000 attend Bloom 2013 Bloom 2013 attracted in excess of 110,000 visitors – an alltime record, exceeding the previous peak of 90,000.


Organised by Bord Bia, the show has now more than doubled in size compared to the attendance at the inaugural event in

2007. Clearly Bloom continues to grow hugely in popularity. And with the exceptionally high attendance this year, artisans, exhibitors and garden designers alike reported a surge in onsite sales. Aidan Cotter, chief executive, Bord Bia tells Hardware and Homestyle News: ‘Bloom 2013 has been a hugely successful

Positive change in banks’ lending to SMEs The ISME Quarterly Bank Watch Survey, shows an increase in demand and an improvement in availability of bank credit, the best results in four years. In addition, the delays in decision-making by banks have improved with the average wait down to four weeks from the previous five. The Association welcomed the positive changes and urged the banks to continue their efforts to reduce their refusal rates to previous norms to assist the economic recovery. Over 1,200 owner managers of SMEs responded to the survey, conducted in the week ending 7 June. The headline statistics include the following: • 44% of companies who applied for funding in the


July•August 2013

bank facilities in the previous three months, showing an increase on the 35% in the previous quarter. • 13% of initial bank decisions were made within one week, a slight deterioration from the 15% in the previous quarter. • On average, the decision time has reduced from 5 to 4 weeks to get a decision. • 91 % of respondents are customers for over 5 years, while 49% are over 20 years with their respective banks.

• 92% of respondents were small businesses, of which 50% were micro businesses, while 8% were medium enterprises. Commenting on the survey results, Mark Fielding, ISME, CEO said: ‘The headline results of the survey are positive and hopefully are the start of a trend back to “normal” banking. ‘However, the fact that both interest and charges are increasing across the board emphasises the fact that we must maintain a close eye on the bankers in the reduced market.’

‘The headline results of the survey are positive.’

Mark Fielding, ISME, CEO

previous three months were refused credit by their banks, an improvement on the 52% in the previous quarter. • 41% of respondents had requested additional or new


Hardware & Homestyle News

show, our best to date according to feedback. ‘It is now a well-established showcase for the talent, diversity and capability of the Irish food and horticulture sector and its capacity to contribute to economic recovery.’

Budding Business

Show garden designers Michael Carroll and Kevin Dennis, whose ‘Riverside Calm’ garden won a silver gilt medal, have had huge interest in their garden and in particular their table top trees. ‘Bloom has been a great experience for us. We have already secured in the region of 30 strong leads and commissions,’ was the response from the duo. Alan Rudden and David Ryan from Gardens Now estimate they’ve lined up a minimum of €80,000 worth of business through their presence at Bloom 2013. Kildare Growers also reported its plants sales had surpassed the €100,000 mark during the final day of the show.


Gary Graham, Bloom show manager, Bord Bia tells us: ‘Bloom is the most important event in the horticulture calendar – a total of almost 2,000

people worked onsite during the build up and throughout the weekend, including designers, exhibitors, Bord Bia representatives, OPW and essential support services – including the Gardai, security and caterers. ‘Bord Bia, and our event sponsors including Woodies, Keelings, Kerry Foods and Mazda, are delighted with the success of this year’s show.’

VIP Visitors

Bloom attracted a number of VIP visitors over the weekend including the President of Ireland Michael D Higgins who was accompanied by his wife Mrs Sabina Higgins; An Taoiseach Enda Kenny; the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Simon Coveney and Fianna Fáil Party Leader Micheál Martin. The Quality Kitchen Stage in the heart of Bord Bia’s Food Village hosted live cookery demonstrations from celebrity chefs including Neven Maguire, Catherine Fulvio and Dónal Skehan who were joined by Quality Kitchen Ambassadors Hector Ó hEochagáin; Yvonne Keating; David Wallace and Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin. Bloom 2014 will take place from Thursday 29 May – Monday 2 June 2014.

Fleetwood wins award for excellence Fleetwood Paints has been selected as outright Winner of the ‘Best Paint Products Award’ to the Public Sector by the Public Sector Magazine for 2013.


These Excellence in Business Awards are presented to companies who can demonstrate outstanding service, continuity, track record and general excellence in business to the Public Sector. On receiving the award, marketing manager, Steven McQuillan, commented, ‘to win such a prestigious award is reflective of the fact that we have built up a trusted relationship with the Public Sector. ‘In the present challenging economy where price is of such high importance it is refreshing that the Public Sector Magazine recognises that quality and excellence is essential to a successful business partnership.’

Tom Byrne, Fleetwood Paints, receiving the Award (logo inset) July•August 2013



Hardware & Homestyle News

The future of retailing - including how to cater for the digital consumer- was discussed at Retail Ireland’s Annual Conference 2013. The event, which brought together dozens of retailers, service suppliers and interested stakeholders, was addressed by EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs, Tonio Borg.

Focusing on their online operations Retailers are increasingly focusing on their online operations in a bid to tap into the €4.1bn online market in Ireland, which is predicted to grow to €21bn by 2017. This was one of the key findings outlined in Retail Ireland’s Online Retailing Survey 2013. The survey was published at the organisation’s Annual Conference at the Aviva Stadium.

Upgrade Of those surveyed by Retail Ireland, 84% have an online presence and 64% intend to upgrade that presence in the next 18 months. The majority of retailers now advertise on social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter and over half have plans to focus on smart phone applications and tablet technology. The survey of retailers with over 500 stores and 18,000 employees in Ireland was published as retailers gathered at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin for the first Retail Ireland Annual Conference, in partnership with the IBEC Retail Skillnet.

Commenting on the survey, Retail Ireland director Stephen Lynam told Hardware and Homestyle News: ‘Irish retailers are now sharply focused on catering to the digital consumer as well as the traditional customer. ‘It’s a huge market, estimated at a value of €4.1bn in Ireland alone and the retailers surveyed reported that 15% of their sales now come from online sales. ‘There is huge scope to increase online sales. The majority of retailers surveyed are offering discounts, special deals, free shipping and larger product ranges to attract online shoppers.

IBEC CEO Danny McCoy argued that we have elongated our recession by ‘keeping down with the Joneses’.

Pictured at the inaugural Retail Ireland Conference (l-r): Stephen Lynam, Retail Ireland director; conference chair, Margaret E. Ward and IBEC Retail Skillnet manager, Sean Carlin

Barriers ‘However, there are a number of barriers to online trading: delivery costs (36%), initial set-up costs (28%), and just under a quarter cited poor broadband speeds, competition and the lack of post codes in Ireland as barriers. ‘While many retailers are addressing these barriers themselves, Government support is needed to address issues such as the provision of high

speed broadband through the accelerated implementation of the National Broadband Plan and speed up plans to introduce a comprehensive post-code system in Ireland to help with deliveries.’ Retail is one of Ireland’s largest sectors, employing over

Software for merchants, distributors and retailers A complete business management solution ■ ■

Sales Stock

■ ■

Purchasing Accounting Call us free on

■ ■

Reporting e-Business

+ 353 1 626 0155 6

July•August 2013


Find out more at

250,000 people. ‘The sector has faced major challenges in recent years – most predominantly slow domestic demand,’ says Lynam. ‘Given that the sector is under huge pressure, it needs every support possible to help it overcome the very challenging market conditions.’


Hardware & Homestyle News

Onwards and upwards at Expert Hardware to medium-sized businesses and every local Expert Hardware store is recognised as providing excellent product knowledge, value and customer service,’ says Brand Development manager, Gerry Fallon. ‘Some of the recent stores to join the group have really seen the advantages of availing of the support and facilities that are in place for all members.’ Expert Hardware directors

The Expert Hardware Group has grown rapidly to become a household name throughout Ireland and delivers value and competitive advantage to its members across a range of business areas.


‘This has been achieved by offering its members benefits which are tailored to suit small


McClaffertys in Gortahork was one of the first stores to implement ‘Inside Expert Hardware‘ which we are told, is an innovative new concept ‘that incorporates cutting edge internal store layout, design and merchandising best practice’. Thomas McClafferty has also just had the new ‘Expert Store Inspection Assessment’ carried out which works in tandem with Inside Expert Hardware, and the

John Perry

Small Business at the Department of Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation. ‘They felt that despite the good location for their store they needed to be part of a recognised brand to future-proof their business, and are using the proven systems the group has in place to achieve this,’ says Gerry.


feedback is that Thomas felt the assessment was of huge benefit – not only to himself, but also to every member of staff who could use the information provided in a very positive way. Perry’s in Ballymote has also recently joined the group and is currently in the process of rebranding and implementing changes to its internal store layout and design. The store is owned by Marie and John Perry, the Minister of State with responsibility for

Gerry Fallon is confident that the group is in a very strong position in the hardware retailing industry. ‘Last year alone, Expert Hardware membership grew by over 30%. ‘We are currently in discussions with a number of stores from around the country who realise the necessity of being part of a strong recognised brand, availing of the exclusive benefits available only to members. ‘Expert Hardware has become the benchmark for local hardware stores and we are getting more and more enquiries from businesses who want to compete effectively in the marketplace and maximise returns.’

Domestic Appliance Spares, Consumables, Vacuums & Small Appliances Next Day Delivery in Ireland From A Wholly Irish Owned Company

New Range Of


We carry the FULL RANGE of Bissell Vacuums Bagged and Bagless, Steamer Cleaners, Sweepers, Carpet Cleaners, Steam Mops, Pads, etc.

Our Tullamore depot has these and many more Hardware & Electrical stock lines ready for next day delivery. In a time when every sale counts, don't turn custom away, pick up the phone and take advantage of our One-Stop-Shop !!!


CALL: 0818 31 32 33

Call us now to open an account

July•August 2013


Tullyleague, Sligo Road, Carrick on Shannon, Co Leitrim T: 071 96 22555 F: 071 96 22556 E: W:

Hardware & Homestyle News

Young people turn to older generation for their skills A total of 81% of parents believe they were more capable of handling their home improvements at their children’s age than their children are nowadays.

A growing DIY skills gap and an empty toolbox. These are among the main factors cited in a new report which reveals how many young adults are ill-equipped to do basic household maintenance tasks.

Advice and help The research carried out in the UK shows how many young people are relying on mum and dad for both advice and handson help. Less than two-fifths (38%) of young people know how to do a selection of 10 basic household DIY tasks, such as putting up a shelf, changing a fuse or assembling furniture, it has been revealed. One in five (20%) don’t have any basic tools such as a hammer, screwdriver or spanner, according to the research by Aviva which highlights the extent of the

DIY skills gap among the generations. The younger generation (18-24 year olds) are up to four times less likely to be able to do a selection of basic DIY tasks than the older generation (65+ year olds.) The skills gap is most pronounced on jobs such as tiling a bathroom (only 9% of 18-24 year olds could complete this task, compared to 45% of 65+year olds) and fixing a leaking tap (only 14% of 18-24 year olds could complete this compared to 42% of 65+year olds).

Internet While many of us (43%) turn to the internet to plug our DIY skills gaps and gain advice and help on how to complete simple home maintenance tasks ourselves, 51% of 18-24 year olds instead turn straight to mum and dad for advice on solving their DIY dilemmas.


But it’s not only DIY advice that grown up children are looking for. More than half (55%) of empty nest parents with children up to the age of 40 are still being called upon to actually help with hands-on home improvements in their children’s homes. Parents spend the equivalent of nearly one hour per week (51 hours per year) carrying out home improvements for grown up children aged 20-40 living away from home, ‘doing tasks that would equate to over £1,280 per year if carried out by a professional tradesman, including garden maintenance (47%), painting (46%) and building and assembling furniture (34%)’. In addition to their time, parents fork out an average of £3,341 per year to buy materials and goods to help with their grown-up children’s household improvements.

Capable Unsurprisingly, 81% of parents believe they were more capable of handling their home improvements at their children’s age than their children are nowadays. Commenting on the research, Heather Smith, director of home insurance at Aviva said: ‘Learning how to do DIY and simple home maintenance jobs around the home are important life skills to have and it seems that the temptation to call in mum and dad for both advice and handson help is hindering many young people from learning these skills themselves.’

CSO construction stats a ‘positive signal’ The 4.4% increase in building and construction output recorded by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) during the first quarter of 2013 has been described as a positive signal for the construction industry.

Optimism That’s the view of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) which says that optimism is starting to creep back into the sector.

According to the CSO’s Production in Building and Construction Index, the volume of building output went from 22.7 in Q4 2012 to 23.7 in Q1 2013. At the same time the value index moved from 26.0 in Q4 2012 to 26.5 in Q1 2013. There were also substantial improvements on the figures recorded for the comparable first quarter during 2012. ‘It’s too early to say that the decline in construction activity is over, but this is a positive signal,’ said CIF director general

Tom Parlon.

Mood ‘We are definitely seeing some optimism returning to the industry. The mood amongst our member companies has changed significantly from this time last year,’ added Parlon. ‘At that time there was little hope of securing work in the industry, however that seems to have changed in certain parts of the country at least.’ July•August 2013



Hardware & Homestyle News

Laois gears up for Ploughing Championships Ratheniska, Stradbally, Co. Laois will host the 2013 National Ploughing Championships on 24, 25 and 26 September 2013, bridging a 70-year gap since the Championships were last held in the area. David Carter and his family will be the main landowners with many neighbouring farmers providing ploughing and parking ground to meet the requirement of 700 acres for this huge National and International Event. ‘I’m obviously delighted that the Ploughing is coming to my home county,’ said Anna May McHugh, managing director of the NPA. As usual there will be a big presence from the hardware industry at what is generally regarded as something of a key event. We will return to the Ploughing in our next issue.

WHATEVER YOUR BUSINESS OBJECTIVE... Every business is unique. That is why the new Toyota Tonero engine-powered forklift has been designed with the most advanced features in the areas of safety, productivity, durability, comfort and the environment. Developed with the unique Tonero+ formula to suit specific needs, the Toyota Tonero is the perfect partner for a successful business. Tonero+ Select the right formula for your business. Contact: Toyota Material Handling Ireland at Toyota Ireland, Killeen Road, Dublin 12. Tel: 01 4190200

The New 10

July•August 2013

Make it Happen


Hardware & Homestyle News

HSA Annual Report and Statistics Summary 11% decrease in workplace deaths during 2012 The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, launched the Health and Safety Authority’s 2012 Annual Report and Statistics Summary for 2011 - 2012. The key themes highlighted in the 2012 Annual Report were: •There were 48 work-related deaths reported to the Authority in 2012, an 11% decrease from the 54 reported in 2011. Of these fatalities, 42 involved workers. A total 22 of the fatalities in 2012 involved self-employed persons (similar to 2011), including 17 farmers. •13,835 workplace inspections and investigations were carried out in 2012 (5% higher than originally targeted). and 6% of inspections resulted in formal enforcement action taken. •The Construction and Agriculture sectors had the highest number of inspections, with 3,932 and 3,136 respectively.

This was in line with the Authority’s risk-based approach to resource allocation. •There were 20 prosecutions concluded with sentence and fines totalling €425,000 imposed. •There were over 11,000 businesses using the free safety management tool ‘BeSMART’ by December 2012.The ‘Taking Care of Business’ initiative for small and medium enterprises continued to provide information and advice to the sector. •As part of the Authority’s chemicals regulation programme, a joint initiative with the National Poison Centre helped initiate an industry-led ‘voluntary product stewardship programme’ regarding detergent liquitabs and incidents with children. This involves commitments to change the packaging to reduce the visibility of the capsules and

The key themes highlighted in the Statistics Summary for 2011–2012 included:

•The worker fatality rate, as at 31 December 2012, was 2.3 per 100,000 workers. •There were 6,619 non-fatal injuries reported in 2012, representing a 5% decrease in the numbers reported, for the second year running. •As in previous years manual handling inuries were the most common non-fatal injury accounting for approximately one-third of all injuries. Slips, trips and falls was the second most common accident trigger (18%).

Minister Richard Bruton

restrict access to the capsules by small children. Martin O’Halloran, CEO of the Authority, said, ‘I am pleased at the way that we have been able to vary our approach to gain maximum impact in relation to workplace safety and health and chemicals regulation. ‘The use of guidance, advice

and assistance as the primary tools of engagement means that formal enforcement and prosecutions are taken only when necessary. ‘It also conveys an important message, we want to work with all enterprises, but those that disregard the safety and health of workers will be penalised.’

WHEN QUALITY MATTERS We strive to provide ultimate product quality at the most competitive price for our customers.

PATS Harrogate is set to be the largest ever

We supply:

Hardware & Homestyle News understands that PATS Harrogate is set to be ‘the largest pet trade exhibition ever staged in the UK’. It will be the second year that PATS Harrogate takes place on a Sunday and Monday in September.

attracted 1,813 visitors which was an 8% increase on the 2011 show when it was held in April. The exhibition will have the same layout as in 2012, using the Harrogate main visitor entrance in Hall M.

We offer Tanalith E, Tanatone and Vacsol Aqua wood preservative treatments.



An increasing number of companies are recognising PATS as an essential place to showcase their product ranges and services, and the Harrogate showpiece will see a host of new exhibitors, we understand. Last year’s PATS Harrogate


Ballygar, Co. Galway, Ireland. T: +353 (0) 90 662 4688 E:

Ballon, Co. Carlow, Ireland. T: +353 (0) 59 915 9178 E:

PATS Harrogate will also be full of popular visitor features, including the New Products Showcase and Awards, a full programme of free seminars, and the Grooming Workshop. PATS Harrogate 2013 takes place on Sunday 15 and Monday 16 September.

July•August 2013



Hardware & Homestyle News

Customer advice: Thieves grab garden gear when nights get brighter Summertime sees a 20% rise in shed and garages thefts. Its official, light-fingered thieves take advantage of the extra daylight afforded by the summer months.

Forward Analysis of 10 years of claims data reveals that thefts from gardens and outbuildings in the UK shoot up by 20% when the clocks go forward, says Aviva. As nights get brighter the number of claims increase with July and August peeking at almost 30% higher than at the start of the year. And thieves are keen to get their hands on anything within easy reach – from children’s toys to bikes to garden tools. Of the garden equipment stolen last year: •42% of thefts were for power tools, of which 56% were drills •39% were for simple hand tools like spades, shovels, rakes and forks

‘The number of claims increases with July and August.’

•19% were for electric and petrol lawnmowers, chainsaws and ladders: Jonathan Cracknell, household underwriting manager, says: ‘Lighter evenings mean all your expensive power tools,

Top Tips to beat the shed burglar: •Don’t tempt the thieves in. Put away your garden tools, paddling pool, trampoline and bikes at the end of the day. •Lock your sheds and out-buildings. Replace any rusty padlocks. •Close gates and repair damaged fences. Deterrents are sometimes the best prevention. •Hide or cover bulky items which can’t be locked away, such as large gas barbecues and picnic benches. •Lock up ladders and secure wheelie bins – they are perfect for giving burglars a leg up into the rest of your home.

bikes and children’s toys are more visible to passing criminals. ‘So after a day in the garden or doing a bit of DIY ensure everything is secured away inside your home, shed or garage. ‘And remember items such as ladders and wheelie bins are perfect for burglars to use to get into your home, so keep them out of reach and out of sight if you can.’

Meadows and Byrne Wexford development gets go-ahead ‘The Meadows and Byrne lifestyle development at Drinagh has been given the go-ahead following months of uncertainty after two businesses objected to plans passed by the borough council,’ reports the Wexford People Newspaper.

Jobs created At least 70 jobs are likely to be created at the development, which is now sched-

uled to open in October, in advance of this year’s Wexford Festival Opera, Hardware & Homestore News understands. The last issues holding up the development ‘were cleared away by An Bord Pleanála’, reported the local newspaper. ‘An Bord Pleanála has vindicated the positive decision of Wexford Borough Council in granting this planning permission,’ said Barry Kehoe, from Kehoe and Associates Auctioneers who, we are told,

put the deal together.

Message ‘This would have been democracy gone wrong in these very difficult times if objectors had managed to block this project, prevent job creation and send out a message that Wexford is only for the locals,’ Kehoe was quoted as saying.

Agreement on amendments to Batteries Directive Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan, has welcomed the agreement on amendments to the Batteries Directive, heralding it as ‘an important step in the development of safer, more energy efficient batteries that will benefit


July•August 2013

both human health and the environment’.

Less harmful In 2006 the EU adopted legislation which sought to make batteries and accumulators less harmful to the environment. The Batteries Directive

includes a specific ban on batteries and accumulators containing mercury and cadmium, but an exemption was provided for batteries for cordless power tools and button cells containing low levels of mercury. Agreement has been reached with the European

Parliament to remove these exemptions ‘while a further amendment to the Directive which clarifies that batteries must be readily removable by either end-users or qualified professionals will be welcomed by consumer groups and industry’, we are told.

Hardware & Homestyle News

McKeown’s World

In 1940 Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of Britain at a time when all seemed lost. France had fallen, the disaster of Dunkirk was somehow portrayed as a triumph, and Britain stood alone against Hitler. This was the period when Churchill made his famous ‘blood, sweat and tears’ and ‘fight them on the beaches’ speeches. But in one of his lesser known quotes, he gave us an insight into how this physically fallible man endured the extreme stress and ordeal of the Second World War, writes David McKeown.

When you’re going through hell ‘When you’re going through hell, keep going.’ Simple, obvious but good advice for modern Ireland. We have been in the depths of an unprecedented recession since 2007, although it really hit home in late 2008, when we first heard the words ‘sub prime’ and ‘credit crunch’.


Over that period virtually every household on the island has seen the reality of economic Armageddon. House prices have collapsed, unemployment has rocketed and the debt burden will be a feature of national budgets for generations to come. Is the end of the recession in sight? Technically a recession is three consecutive quarters of negative economic growth. So, equally technically, an occasional quarter of growth means we are out of recession. The fact remains, we are bumping along the bottom of an economic trough with very few signs of recovery. The recent CSO figures for retail sales in the Republic paint a very gloomy picture for our industry – overall retail sales were down 1.8% at the end of quarter 1, which was actually a faster rate of decline than the start of the year.


To make matters worse, the sectors highlighted as performing particularly badly were Books, Newspapers and Stationery (-8.5%) and the key home enhancement sector of Hardware, Paint and Glass (-5.6%). Sales in the latter category are still 34% behind the level of 2005. Both north and south of the border, consumer confidence is very fragile. In the Republic, confidence fell in April, partly due to more bad econom-

ic news at home and abroad. The inability of the European authorities to deal decisively with problems in Cyprus reminded us all how fragile our own situation is. This lack of confidence has a clear implication on consumers’ purchasing intentions, with a slight fall in the index measuring households’ intention to make a major purchase. In the North, all five measures of consumer confidence fell for the first time since 2010, due to the combined effects of economic woe and threats to welfare payments. But enough of the economic theory and consumer research – what really matters is actual behaviour.

‘The main driver of a recovery will be that elusive factor – confidence.’ Barometer

There are several areas which can act as a tangible barometer of consumer confidence: Savings, New Car Sales, Holiday Expenditure, and Eating Out. Unfortunately, these also suggest the end of the recession is not yet in sight. New car sales were down 14% in the first quarter of 2013 in the ROI, and the figures for NI were absolutely flat vs 2012. Wary consumers are staying away from new cars and spending their money more carefully in a fairly buoyant used car market. This is after several years of double digit decline and some very high-profile casualties in

the car market. With regard to international travel, the Household Travel Survey from the CSO shows that Irish families have been spending fewer nights abroad on holiday in a steady decline since the peak in 2008. Expenditure in bars, cafés and restaurants has also fallen each year since the heights of 2008.


The only indicator which has grown over this period is savings levels, Unlikely as it might sound, Irish households saved 12% of disposable income in 2012, up from 10.7% in 2011. The figures for Q4 2012 were even higher. This might be seen as good financial planning but, the paradox of thrift is that, when times are hard, confidence is low, and high levels of saving take money out of the economy leading to a cycle of decline. This is particularly serious for an economy like ours which is over-dependent on retail sales. So how do we get out of this? Export is an obvious solution, and indeed, export sales are a highlight of our economy. But the main driver of a recovery will be that elusive factor – confidence.


We will only return to sustainable growth when the households with the high levels of savings start to feel better about the future, and release some of their cash reserves. This can only happen if governments relax the austerity measures of recent years and take some action to stimulate sustainable growth. But until then, when you’re going through hell, keep going.

About David

David McKeown is a sales and marketing professional with wide experience in the construction and DIY industries in Ireland, the UK and Germany. He runs his own sales agency, xSell Sales and Marketing, providing consultancy and agency services to a number of clients.

July•August 2013



Hardware & Homestyle News

Retail supremo Feargal Quinn speaks with Hardware and Homestyle News editor Martin Foran about ‘personality’, driving repeat business and finding the often elusive point of difference which can mark you out from the competition.

A Man for all Seasons


ne of the first things you notice about Feargal Quinn is how many people notice Feargal Quinn. A short stroll in the Capital on a sunny Wednesday afternoon provides ample evidence of this.

Palpable Heads turn, eyes follow him, passersby greet him warmly – total strangers for the most part and yet there is no awkwardness, just a genuine fondness which is palpable. Each greeting is warmly returned by the smiling, dapper man who, five minutes after our first meeting, has already become synonymous with the word ‘charisma’ in my own personal lexicon. And so my first question: Personality. How important is it in our trade? ‘I think the important thing is to be different,’ says Feargal, without missing a beat. ‘If you are the same as your competitors in everything you do then why would people drive past your competitor’s shop to come to you – to YOUR shop? ‘One of the ways to do this – to be different – is through personality. It can be quite important when people have a choice in where to shop.’

Book One of the key words in Feargal’s latest book Mind Your Own Business, he reminds me, is ‘destination’. The challenge, he says, lies in making your outlet a destination for shoppers. When he recounts the story of his childhood years, the source of Quinn’s early inspiration on this topic becomes clear. ‘I was very lucky,’ says Feargal. ‘I grew up in a holiday camp! If you have a chance to be born again do your best to


July•August 2013

‘Business isn’t solely about buying and selling. It’s also about communication.’

be born into a family that runs a holiday camp,’ he advises. Sounds idyllic. However, the lessons learned here by the young Feargal Quinn were far-reaching and would impact way beyond the confines of Red Island Holiday Camp in Skerries. ‘The guests all came from across the water for an “all inclusive” holiday,’ recalls Feargal. ‘The sole objective was to get the customers to come back again. ‘Everything my father did was aimed towards that goal,’ he points out.

Resonate This objective should, naturally resonate with retailers. Attracting the repeat customer is vital and necessary. ‘I believe that one of the ways you do this is with personality,’ says Feargal referring to my original question.


Hardware & Homestyle News

‘I grew up in a business where you were an entertainer.’

Of course it helps a lot when you love the business that you are in. Clearly this is true for Quinn. ‘Hardly a day went by that I didn’t look forward to going to work,’ he agrees. ‘Part of this was because I grew up in a business where you were an entertainer. ‘When I went into the grocery business I assumed that the same things applied – for example, that you would give the customers such a good experience that they’d come back again. ‘That meant being an entertainer.’

Story At this point Quinn tells the story of when he founded Superquinn in 1960 and went looking to buy a pubJuly•August 2013


Profile lic address system – clear echoes of a childhood growing up in that holiday camp. The reaction might best be described as ‘bemused’. Feargal was met by a series of confused questions. A Grocery Shop? He wanted to play music? He needed a microphone? In a world that takes instore announcements for granted this scenario might seem hard for us to picture but it shows just how ahead of his time Quinn really was.

Feargal Quinn founded Superquinn, the Irish supermarket group, in 1960 and was its managing director for many years during which it built an international reputation for excellence in customer service. His bestselling book Crowning the Customer (O’Brien Press) is used by multinational companies across the world as the essential customer care manual. It has been translated into 12 languages worldwide and was an international bestseller. His latest book, Mind Your Own Business, is reviewed in this issue. In recent years he has worked extensively in television. He has been a member of Seanad Éireann since 1993. ‘It never dawned on them that there would be this sort of market for their products,’ he says. But Feargal Quinn was just being Feargal Quinn, a natural entertainer, a born communicator. And that, it dawns on me, is the secret to his success. He really is just being himself. And these passersby, these well-wishers, these admirers recognise and relate to this. The word is ‘genuine’. People know it when they see it.


July•August 2013

Hardware & Homestyle News


Retail beireland the selling point.’ News

There is also a remarkable spirit of inclusiveness about the man. ‘We had a three-metre rule in Superquinn,’ he says, as if to illustrate this point. ‘If someone came within that distance they had to be greeted. ‘What people do in general is they greet people they know and ignore those they don’t! ‘Business isn’t solely about buying and selling,’ says Feargal. ‘It’s also about communication.’

Similar traits A lot of Irish people have similar traits says Feargal – we are good talkers, good communicators and, yes, entertainers. And people like to deal with others who have these same qualities. Who doesn’t? It’s probably one reason why owner-managed businesses represent such a significant part of our landscape.

Looked after Of course we have to get them in the store first. Once in the store and greeted the customers have to be looked after properly to ensure that vital repeat business. ‘The question,’ says Feargal, ‘is: Can you become distinctive and can you encourage the people who work for you to understand the significance of this? ‘Unless you are distinctive and manage to give them a reason to come into your shop you aren’t going to succeed. ‘In the case of hardware stores, expert knowledge and advice can

Hardware & Homestyle News editor, Martin Foran, takes a walk with Feargal Quinn.

Competitive ‘There are a number of challenges facing modern retailers of course, but the biggest,’ Quinn says, ‘is to give people a reason to come out and spend. ‘This is not just about doing what you were doing last year. You must be different.’ This advice was to the fore with retailers in the three series of Feargal Quinn’s Retail Therapy and with the entire town of Drogheda in Local Heroes – A Town Fights Back which Quinn also featured in. Of major concern to Quinn is the black economy. He refers to a recent meeting of the Joint Oireacthas Committee on Jobs, Innovation and Enterprise which he attended the day before our meeting and where the issue was discussed. ‘People are facing unfair competition because of counterfeit goods, smuggled goods and goods being sold by people who don’t pay any tax.’ As for the future, Feargal agrees with a recent comment – regarding on-line shopping – that bricks and mortar stores are going to be even more about ‘theatre’ in years to come. Clearly with his background he is well-placed to advise here for some time!

Busy Meanwhile his varied workload, it seems, will keep him as busy as ever on several fronts. In May 2010, he introduced a Private Members Bill - the Construction Contracts Bill. That Bill is going through the Dáil after having gone through Seanad Éireann. The Bill, Feargal explains, is ‘aimed at making sure the contractor pays the subcontractor the right amount, on time and if he doesn’t get paid he has the right to stop work’. If there is a dispute it goes to adjudication. Speaking of Seanad Éireann, Quinn is a firm believer in reform as opposed to abolition. ‘The way to do this is to ensure that every citizen gets a vote,’ he says. ‘That way there will be ownership.’ And there again, that great spirit of inclusiveness shines through.

Hardware & Homestyle News

Retail ireland News These are historically difficult times to be a retailer with official statistics highlighting the continuing weakness of our sector. Hardware and homewear retailers know this more than most, writes Stephen Lynam, director, Retail Ireland.

‘What we need is action’ Stephen Lynam, director, Retail Ireland

The household equipment sector as a whole is struggling with the continued falls in construction activity, house purchases and home improvements. Data for the first few months of 2013 is shockingly poor. In the first quarter of 2013 household equipment sales were up 0.6% in value and 6% in volume compared to Q1 2012. However, this was made up almost solely by rises in the volume of sales in electrical goods, with sales of furniture, lighting and hardware suffering in that period.


For electrical sales, the sector was boosted by the Olympics and the digital switchover during 2012, and the positive trend appears to be continuing into the first quarter of 2013. But for hardware, paint and glass, the three months to the end of March saw year-on-

Email: Tel: 01-6051558

year falls of 5.7% in value and 4.7% in the volume of sales. The month of March was particularly bad and saw a precipitous annual fall of 11.7% in terms of value and 9.8% in terms of volume. In the wider retail environment, sectors like books, clothing and pharmacy sales have all fallen back in 2013. In the round, retail sales are 25 per cent lower than they were at the peak of the Celtic Tiger. We have lost 50,000 retail jobs since the recession hit. Consumer spending is likely to remain flat in 2013 and rise only modestly next year. The continued gloom in our sector must be tackled and retail put on a sustainable path to recovery.

Ireland’s largest wholesale distributors of all quality bagged & bulk, sand, gravels & decorative aggregates know as the river collection. Manufacturers and distributors of readymix & coloured mortars as well as all your wet and dry dash needs.


The imminent establishment of the inter-departmental group on retail, announced as part of the Action Plan for Jobs, must come up with proposals to stimulate the domestic economy. Consumers need a reason to start spending. The group’s establishment was a key request of Retail Ireland – but not an end in itself. What we need is not more talking, but action. It is absolutely vital that the group acts on issues like consumer spending, retailer costs and the black market. Above all, it should lead to increased sales and job numbers for the retail sector. The number one priority for the Government from now until Budget season must be to give consumers hope and certainty. Until that happens, the domestic economy cannot hope to see growth.

T: 00 353 45 860895 F: 00 353 45 890618 E: W: Members of Guaranteed Irish and Construction Industry Federation July•August 2013


Profile: Bandon Co-op

Hardware & Homestyle News

Bandon Co-op – traditional values meet modern retail concepts by Niall Doyle As the State enters into a decade of anniversaries and commemorations, significant events prior to 1913, which still resonate today, run the risk of being overlooked. Horace Plunkett’s co-operative movement, established in the late 1880s, could fall into that category. By pooling their resources, Plunkett argued, Irish farmers would have greater strength in numbers, better purchasing power, and consequently, a more reliable source of income. That the cooperative movement was a success was hardly a surprise. Plunkett was tapping into Meitheal, the old Irish practice whereby rural neighbours would support each other at harvest time, or at other important times of the year. It, therefore, made sound economic sense to do so on a more established footing. Those relationships and traditions are still important at Bandon Co-op, and are still at the heart of operations today. The organisation, celebrating its 110th anniversary this year, continues to go from strength to strength.


erhaps the single most important factor in the success of Bandon Coop, which is owned by farmer shareholders, is its ability to move with the times. Today, it’s not only a successful ‘agri’ business, but has also developed a thriving retail division. The result is that it caters very successfully for the homeowner, the farmer and the wider farming community in general. It is an impressive achievement to say the least. In keeping abreast of the changing retail market and the changing needs of customers, the organisation has shown itself to be adept at combining tradition with a unique forward-looking vision.

Retail Division

‘Know your customer’ is a mantra that could be applied to the success of the organisation down through the years. Both market and local knowledge mean that they can anticipate and respond to the changing needs of the Bandon co-op customer with consummate ease. The retail division started life in the 1980s. In common with

CEO Gus O’Brien: ‘ From the very start we blended our two types of customers.’

many ‘agri’ organisations the desire was to widen the appeal and customer base, taking in not just the farmer but the wider community at large. The staff and management here have done this with considerable success and the results are evident right across the organisation from shop floor to head office. The key here of course, as with other ‘agri’ organisations, was to do so whilst maintaining the traditional customer base. This does not seem to have been a problem and the journey has continued apace. Today the outlets at Kilbrogan (Bandon), Kinsale and Enniskeane are July•August 2013


To p 5 e x T e n d the leADing rAnge of grAss seeD mixtures

increAseD swArD Digestibility

increAseD spring growth

New from Basta, an ultra modern brushed nickel lever on rose handle designed for modern living.

Top 5

increAseD Dm intAKes


AbergAin Aberchoice tyrellA

increAseD milK yielDs & milK soliDs

Kintyre Drumbo Dunluce

AbergAin, Kintyre, Aberchoice, Drumbo, tyrellA and Dunluce are in the Top 5 Range and available nationwide from all Co-ops and Agri merchant stores.

Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo Phone: 071 918 50 32 Fax: 071 918 54 39 web:

Irelands Only Paint Brush Manufacturer Manufacturing in Ireland for 128 Years


DOSCO Dosco Business Park South Douglas Road, Cork, Ireland Tel : (021) 4892813 Fax: (021) 4893180 email: website

Best Wishes and continued success to Bandon Coop


holesale growers of Bedding Plants, Herb Plants, Vegetable Plants, Fruit Bushes, Shrubs and Climbers.

We Specialise in Bedding Plants supplied in attractive packages to provide easy sale. We Supply garden centres and shops throughout Ireland

Skibbereen, Co. Cork, Ireland e: Tel. 00 353 282 2046 Fax 00 353 282 2048

Hardware & Homestyle News

Profile: Bandon Co-op

share, within both rural and urban communities, by making available, relevant products at competitive prices and quality service delivered by knowledgeable and committed staff, for the benefit of all stakeholders’. The goal is: ‘To provide leading quality branded products, at very competitive prices and excellent service.’


modern, welcoming and attractive and draw a wide and diverse range of customers from a large catchment area. The retail stores offer farm hardware, DIY products, building materials, gardening, heating and plumbing supplies, tools, electrical, home improvement and household goods. The business is committed to ‘growing and maintaining market

CEO Gus O’Brien, who has been at Bandon Co-op since 1971, remembers the establishment of the Retail Division very well. ‘Milk quotas came into effect in 1984,’ recalls Gus. ‘All of a sudden the expansion in the milk industry became static,’ he adds. At the time, Gus explains, there was a growing movement, within co-ops nationally, to broaden their consumer offering. ‘There was a lot of interest in looking at alternatives – as there was in every co-op in the country. We were looking at various other avenues. And so, coming up to the late eighties, it was in many ways a natural thing that we would go into retail.’


Referencing their traditional, farming

customers along with their newer retail customers, Gus stressed the importance of bringing both sets of customers with them as they branched out. ‘From the very start we blended our two types of customer. We opened our Kinsale shop in 1990 and our Enniskeane shop in 1997. Prior to this, we had a presence in Bandon. However, it was predominantly agri-related.’ In 1992 they developed the Bandon store, with a focus on hardware retailing. Through the early years of these new ventures, they constantly innovated, training staff up to meet the needs of the changing retail infrastructure that they were establishing. ‘In the nineties we grew, we put in various systems and we developed in retailing,’ Gus recalls.


In 2006 it was decided to double the size of the existing store in Kilbrogan, Bandon. ‘We felt there was potential for extra sales and we wanted to offer a wider range,’ says head of retail at Bandon Co-op, Michael O’Driscoll. It was a sort of pre-emptive strike, explains Michael. At the time, the

Best Wishes to Bandon Co-op

For further information call us on +353 (0)21-4372374 or mail us @

July•August 2013


Calor is the leading supplier of LPG with cylinders to suit all of your customer’s needs. Calor is innovating the market with new lightweight cylinders that are not currently available, most recently with the new 6kg lightweight cylinder for leisure customers. It also has a unique contents gauge, so customers never have to worry about running out. Calor also have a new range of domestic appliances available to you and your customers, visit - you can avail of FREE gas vouchers for your customers when they purchase any Calor appliance.

To find out more, contact Calor on 1850 812 450 or visit


Congratulations and continued success to Bandon Coop Hanleys Garden Supplies Frankfield Rd Ballycurreen Cork

PH: O21 4314464

AQUABION® is the eco-friendly salt-free water treatment for tackling Limescale. From Germany, AQUABION® has over 10 years of testimonials and University endorsements, is easy to install and works using sacrificial Zinc anodes, neutralising Limescale so it doesn’t calcify on heating elements, pipe-work or appliances, preventing expensive repairs and replacements. Guaranteed for 5 years and with an average lifespan of 7/8 years, AQUABION® requires NO MAINTENANCE over its lifetime! It’s safe to drink water treated through an AQUABION® – no salt is used. AQUABION® S - 15 has a RRP of €399. For more details, contact Highway Wholesalers at 051 872615, or log-on to our website

Hardware & Homestyle News

group had an eye on the threat of potential competition that might arise in the area. ‘You are always looking at potential competition,’ he explains, showing that typical attention to detail and awareness that has served Bandon Co-op so well. ‘There was a mixture of reasons for the development.’ ‘The focus,’ says Michael, ‘has been to attract town dwellers.’ This focus has been reflected in different ways across the organisation. ‘We changed our logo a few years ago,’ adds Michael, by way of example. ‘The logo had a very agricultural feel so we adapted it to suit our expanding market and customer base.’ In 2012 a revamped store was opened at the Kinsale site. The result was a trebling in size of the retail area there.

National Hardware

Bandon Co-op teamed up with National Hardware in 2005. Becoming a member of that group meant that it could benefit from the supply network and top class marketing expertise that National Hardware has to offer. Borrowing a theme from the earliest days of the cooperative movement, joining National Hardware made economic sense. ‘The alliance with National Hardware started at a time when we felt that to grow the business to the next stage we had to be part

July•August 2013


Profile: Bandon Co-op

of a buying group. Our membership with them has proved to be very beneficial,’ says Michael, clearly satisfied with the arrangement after just a few short years. He’s very enthusiastic about a new programme they have recently developed called ‘Back to Basics’. The programme will focus on developing further the Arro brand in a re-focused effort to achieve excellence across key retail elements, such as merchandising, pricing and signage. ‘By concentrating on visual merchandising, store layout, use of colour co-ordinated departments, standardized and informative signage, it will make the customer experience easier and more enjoyable,’ Michael enthuses. The implementation of changes to in-store POS will see new colour

schemes being used by the different departments. It’s all part of an attempt, explains Michael to keep it ‘fresh for customers’. Of course, they haven’t been immune to the economic downturn, and the well documented changes in consumer purchasing habits have not, Michael acknowledges, gone unnoticed. ‘There is less chance of impulse purchases being made as customers are more conscious of what they have to spend now. You have to manage the change accordingly.’ And somewhat surprisingly perhaps, Michael doesn’t see price as being the ultimate bottom line. ‘As for our customers now,’ he says, ‘I would say they are looking at two primary things: quality of products and service. Price is coming third

We over manufacture supply concrete products For 60 years,and we have been manufacturing to supplying the generalconcrete construction andof agricultural and products the highest industry in general West Cork. Our products standard to the construction andinclude agricultural all of the following: industry in West Cork. Our product range includes: ❖Concrete Blocks❖

• Soaps • Bricks • Pads • Corner Blocks • etc.

❖Ready Mix Concrete❖ ❖Aggregates❖ including Bagged Aggregates

❖Precast Products❖



July•August 2013

Mcsweeney.indd 1

Hardware & Homestyle News

08/07/2013 14:49

down the line.’


Michael credits National Hardware for putting a ‘big effort’ into the programme, one in which they are only too happy to be associated with. And, of course, Bandon Co-op benefits from the various other promotions they hold throughout the year. The benefits of association with National Hardware are far-reaching. ‘We want to be as good, if not better, than our competition,’ says Michael. ‘National Hardware provides benchmarking so that we can be measured in this regard.’ It’s a flexible relationship that allows Bandon Co-op to participate and benefit from national marketing activities, without undermining their



Prepacked Hardware & Electrical Supplier

Best Wishes to Bandon Co-op

C 0

M Y 0 0

K 100

C 0

M 48

Y K 95 0

From Sasta Hardware SASTA HARDWARE LTD

Unit 4, Riverstown Business Park Riverstown Tramore Co. Waterford

Tel: 051 381777 Fax: 051 381878 Email:

Visit our website

Irish agents for:

Barry Group, upper Quartertown, mallow, Co. Cork tel: 022 30 100 Ian Fraser Tel: 086 803 51 96

90/130mm ad.indd 1

04/03/2013 08:50


Continued good wishes to Bandon Co-op

Fox Bros Engineering Ltd. Ballycanew, Gorey, Co. Wexford. Phone 055 21677 Fax 055 21733 e-mail

Hardware & Homestyle News local messaging. ‘We participate in their marketing calendar but we also continue to do a lot of traditional local advertising in addition to this.’ These days, their media messaging is spread across various traditional and new media platforms. ‘We are on Facebook and use Twitter too,’ says Michael, acknowledging the importance of social media and again underlining how Bandon has moved with the times. ‘It helps in developing our relationships with customers,’ he adds. Along with online advertising and SMS text messaging he sees many benefits to new media marketing. ‘It is immediate and quick. We are continuously building up our database as there’s great potential for instant communication with these systems.’ But, he’s careful to add, not at the expense of tried and tested methods. ‘Traditional advertising is still a very important part of our marketing mix and both elements need to be developed in tandem,’ says Michael.


As with most agri co-ops there is a very strong and loyal connection with the community here as is evidenced

Profile: Bandon Co-op

right across the organization. ‘We are owned by farmer shareholders and our board are very supportive, forward thinking and proactive,’ Gus points out.

like to acknowledge this fact. The staff members are here a long time and there is very little turnover,’ Michael says, with no small amount of pride. ‘They have a great reputation with customers for having excellent product knowledge.’ Good old fashioned retail habits such as knowing the customers by name, contribute, Michael feels, to ongoing and satisfactory relationships being forged and developed. ‘The overall result is a shopping experience that customers come back for time and time again. We have a unique character in our shops,’ says Michael.


(L to R) Michael O’Driscoll, Head of Retail with Michael Murphy, store manager, Kinsale store

With the development at Kinsale came an enhancement of the softer side of the product offering. Homewares and Giftware is one area that wouldn’t have previously featured, but is now firmly established as part of their retail offering. One new addition at Kinsale, the maritime department, has been very welcome. Given its location and strong links with the sea, the products do well here – another prime example of knowing the local market and customers. An impressive gar-

Michael attributes a lot of their success to the staff employed at Bandon co-op. ‘A lot of your success depends on your staff,’ says Michael. would 08276‘We Bandon Coop Ad_08276 Bandon Coop Ad 28/02/2013 14:23 Page 1

Continued success to Bandon Coop from all at Carbon Group

Carbon Group suppliers of Salt, Dairy Detergents & Milk Antibiotic Testing Kits among many other products.

Congratulations Bandon Coop Best wishes for the future

July•August 2013


Profile: Bandon Co-op

Hardware & Homestyle News den centre has also been added and should prove to be of huge interest. A notable achievement considering they continued to trade throughout the redevelopment. ‘It was a challenging time for the retail division,’ says Michael, but, he adds, ‘the staff and customers were very supportive. It was quite difficult so all credit is due to them.’ It was all worth it in the end, of course, and all on the team are delighted with the results, especially the staff members working there every day. ‘Our footfall is up considerably,’ says Michael. ‘It has been great.’ In accordance with best practice, before embarking on the planning for the Kinsale store, the project team did a lot of research, visiting a lot of stores and getting invaluable advice from other operators in the sector. As a result, the latest examples in design and store layout have been assimilated into a concept which chimes with proven best retail practice acquired over the years at Bandon.

It’s a virtuous circle

‘It is a continuous learning curve - an evolving process – because, now we have the same people we went to coming to visit us to ask our advice,’ says Michael. ‘And they are more than welcome as the time may arise, in the future, when we will be back to them again to see how they have developed and moved things on!’


As for the future, Bandon Co-op plans to develop on-line marketing in response to the changing retail habits of its customers. ‘Our website is a work in progress,’ says Michael. ‘We



Fixings for

Fasteners for

Fillers and now...

Nuts & Bolts Rawlplug ad.indd 1


July•August 2013

16/11/09 12:05:13

Hardware & Homestyle News recently upgraded it to enhance its appearance and we show certain retail products on-line. We plan to develop it further and, in time, to introduce on-line shopping.’

Profile: Bandon Co-op

A new IT system in the organization means that they will be able to avail of new reporting mechanisms. ‘Heretofore, we might have been looking at total figures and sales. Nowadays

you have to drill down for more detail to better analyse trends and forecasts.’ With this sort of attention to detail, Bandon Co-op looks set for whatever the future holds.

Kinsale store profile ‘National Hardware was of great assistance to us during our recent development at Kinsale,’ says Michael O’Driscoll. In fact the entire Commercial Team of United Hardware (Joint Venture between Associated Hardware and National Hardware) introduced new ranges and helped to identify new lines of business for Bandon ARRO. According to John Stone of United Hardware and National Hardware, United Hardware is going from strength to strength offering a next day delivery home service from the Citywest warehouse which has been well received. The new range of own brand paint launched by David Farrell, United Hardware’s commercial manager, is selling particularly well backed up by the Kavanagh range of paint accessories.


The revamped store here has a new Homewares Department and also a Garden Centre. ‘Furthermore we now display a larger range of Floors and Doors compared to the old shop ’

says Michael. Adjacent to Doors and Floors is a range of Basta door furniture. ‘It’s all about link-selling,’ adds Michael. The Dulux display at the Kinsale store stands out for all the right reasons and Dulux paint is a big seller here. Ronseal products are also displayed in a prime position.


A large range of showers and other sanitary ware is well displayed in the new Bathroom showroom. The Electrical department features well-known brands – ranging from small appliances to larger white goods, demonstrating once again their willingness to respond to their customers’ needs. The coastal location means that marine products have done well here too, and the Garden Centre is attracting great interest with a horticulturalist on the team to enable customers to make informed decisions. ‘The population of Kinsale increases hugely in summer. So there is a different type of client then too which has to be catered for,’ Michael Murphy, store manager, reminds us. Working here on a daily basis Michael is clearly very happy with the work that has

been carried out and with the new clientele the store is now attracting on top of its original customer base. ‘It was 3,000 square feet in size before the development. Now it has trebled in size,’ says Michael referring to the retail area at Kinsale. ‘One of the advantages of this is that it has made the store easier to manage,’ says Michael. As with a lot of retailers who have experienced a revamp the results mean that they can now better showcase many products that they were already selling, but which perhaps did not enjoy the requisite exposure they deserved.


And once again, there is that close relationship between customers and staff here that is evidenced across the organisation. ‘We are also seeing a lot of new customers since the redevelopment,’ says Michael Murphy. ‘Word has spread about the store and people are coming from further afield which is great.’

ROME WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY. It would’ve been if this was around. SEALS AND BONDS EVEN IN THE WET

EVO-STIK 007 eliminates the need for any other type of sealant or adhesive and can be used in more than 7 specialist construction fields such as Carpentry, Plumbing, Electrical, Glazing, Metal Fabrication, Tiling, and Decorating. EVO-STIK 007 is specially designed to replace at least 7 individual products including: Panel/Grab Adhesive Decorator’s Caulk Wood Glue All Weather Silicone

General Purpose Sealant Specialist PU Adhesive Sanitary Silicone

Bostik Industries Ltd. Newtown, Swords, Co. Dublin, Ireland t 01 862 4900 f 01 840 2186

July•August 2013


The Home Front

Trend Watching 30

July•August 2013

Hardware & Homestyle News

Tom Mirabile, Senior Vice President of Global Trend & Design, Lifetime Brands Inc., is renowned as a guru of trend watching. He addressed a packed auditorium at this year’s International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago, giving insights into the changing consumer landscape. ‘The big message is that sometimes we lose perspective on who the consumers really are and what is important to them,’ says Mirabile. ‘We have a picture in our heads of who they are, how they live and what drives their spending. It’s often way off the mark. ‘A lot of the time, in housewares in particular, we need a reality check. We need to look at ourselves as retailers and manufacturers and say, “Where do we stand in relation to the customer today?”’


‘Design has become a crucial purchase consideration,’ says Mirabile. Housewares have earned their place as status symbols. ‘Open-space kitchen and entertaining layouts mean that consumers and their friends and guests in the home are seeing household items all the time and this means they have to have more decorative value. ‘They are a visible expression of our personal style. Ask yourself what status markers you are de-

The Home Front

Hardware & Homestyle News

‘Consumers aren’t looking for just another place to shop – they’re looking for retailers that understand them as individuals.’

livering – are you delivering a status of design? Of eco-consciousness? ‘Those status markers are what people look for. Status isn’t just about wealth any more, it’s more complex than that.’

What next?

Mirabile refers to the ‘what’s next?’ culture. ‘Consumers crave the new. It represents innovation, advancement, excitement and status – new will always be perceived as better,’ he says.

Take-home messages from Mirabile include:

• The customer’s desire to have anything, anytime and anyplace – online offerings need to be up-to-date and offer price visibility and value, whereas bricks and mortar should be “exploratory and offer an experience.”’ • Retailers are challenged to bring a fresh perspective to the marketplace, acting as curators and editors for timeand choice-challenged consumers.

• ‘Trust is the gateway to increased market share, so leverage your point of view and expertise,’ says Mirabile. ‘Consumers aren’t looking for just another place to shop, they’re looking for retailers that understand them as individuals.’ • In the current soft economy, the terms ‘value’ and ‘luxury’ have been redefined to reject throwaway culture with consumers preferring to repair goods, research their purchases and save to buy more durable products, which do more. • Smart, value driven shopping is now a badge of honour. • Do-It-Yourself (DIY) is also a new frontier. The shame is not value; it’s saying I can’t do it myself. Many consumers find that it’s enjoyable to save money by cooking, and actually satisfyingly creative, so home cooking is up remarkably. • Consumers are also using new tools like mobile apps and widgets to empower themselves and save time shopping. They discover products using social media services, when pop ups let them know about discounts nearby,

and through unsolicited suggestions from companies like Amazon.

No rules

As Mirabile says: ‘There are no rules – anything goes – just keep in mind who your target market is and deliver product that speaks authentically to their lifestyle. ‘Perception needs to give way to reality. Simplified views of the consumer and their needs/desires only weaken our position. ‘So shake up your perceptions and get ready to delight a new, social-media savvy consumer that will rock every expectation.’

July•August 2013


The Home Front

Hardware & Homestyle News

Home-focused stores shine in National Amenity Horticulture Quality Awards 2012-2013 Garden Centre of the Year (small) Cois na hAbhann Garden Centre

Bord Bia held its annual National Amenity Horticulture Quality Awards in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Santry, Dublin with 180 industry representatives in attendance.


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. Bord Bia awarded 36 garden centres, 4 ornamental growers and 14 landscape service providers which have successfully achieved the standards as set out by its Quality Assurance Programmes.

Garden Centre of the Year (large) Orchard Home & Garden Centre


Among the winners were the Orchard Home & Garden Centre and Cois na hAbhann Garden Centre. Both outlets can certainly be said to have pushed the boundaries when it comes to their offerings for the homestore customer.

‘An increased focus on fast fashion for the home’ B&Q’S newlook homeimprovement store

The first half of this year has seen many changes in terms of the general environment where Homewares are sold. Included here is the arrival of a ‘more inspirational, more affordable and more helpful way of shopping for the home’ with the new-look B&Q store at Banbury in the UK. On hand to officially open the newly transformed store

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen pictured on a tour of the Banbury store

was celebrity interior designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen who cut the ribbon along with local MP Tony Baldry. The designer, who also has his own wallpaper range at B&Q, was given a tour of the store by

B&Q colleagues. The new look store – one of three in the UK – is being trialled with a new design to reflect changes in consumer behaviour in the home improvement market and ‘an in-

creased focus on fast fashion for the home’. Through redesigning the space in the stores, customers will find them easier to shop and more inspiring we are told. All good to know. July•August 2013


Delivering Superior Adhesion, Ultimate Durability with Excellent Crack & Stain Resistance

Waterproof & Microporous for Ultimate Dirt, Mould & Algae Resistance

Colourfast Formula for Exceptional UV & Fade Resistance

Shower Proof in 30mins

Fleetwood Paints LTD, Virginia, Co. Cavan, Ireland. Tel: (049) 8547209



Hardware & Homestyle News

Paint, Coatings and Accessories represent one of the most vital and vibrant areas of our trade with constant innovation and development taking place. Little wonder as – ongoing and essential maintenance aside – in these straitened times, a coat of paint represents one of the easiest and most cost effective ways of transforming the home.

Paint, Coatings and Accessories – positive signs ahead! ‘Consumers are keen to make the most of their homes and continue to look for ways to be on trend with their interior look,’ point out the people at Plastikote. PlastiKote spray paint is perfect for the rejuvenation, renovation and enhancement of existing items around the home and garden. The before and after pictures (opposite) of a kitchen recently transformed by PlastiKote spray paint demonstrate what can be achieved for under €500 – including accessories. Award-winning spray paint. With the launch last year of its award-winning spray paint, Twist & Spray, PlastiKote has made it even easier for consumers to use spray paint to achieve great looking projects. Twist & Spray features a large inch-wide finger pad, reducing the effort needed to spray by 33%. It even sprays at any angle, perfect for those hard-toreach places. The spray-through cap shields fingers for a cleaner spray experience and its twist and lock action prevents unintentional spraying. Inside the can it gets even cleverer. The advanced paint formula ensures each coat is ultra smooth, providing flawless coverage that dries quickly to a tough, durable finish. Best of all, PlastiKote Twist & Spray has no recoat window. Simply apply more coats at any time to achieve the perfect finish with ease and convenience. PlastiKote spray paint is not just about convenience and finish - it’s also about how to make best use of colour and this year’s colour trends. Daniel Fox, PlastiKote brand manager, says: ‘PlastiKote is set to deliver with new innovation, on-trend colour palettes and valuable retailer support.’

Before After

New from Colortrend. Irish independent paint manufacturer Colortrend is delighted to announce the launch of its 2013 Weather Colour Collection – a range of thirty-four masonry colours and

five gloss colours – combining classic tones and trend colours which, we are told, have been specially selected to work in harmony with the landscape and built environment. July•August 2013



Décor Ireland As we see in our feature on DIY products this month, Decor Ireland are ever aware of the need to keep in touch with their roots in the painting sector. They continue to source and develop products for this market with new products coming on stream in the coming months. These products, offered alongside their stalwart brands such as Zinsser, Blackfriar and Tetrion, mean that Decor Ireland ‘will continue to be a key supplier to the decorating, gardening and hardware merchant market for the foreseeable future’. Colortrend Weather exterior masonry paint is a pure acrylic, premium quality paint specially formulated to meet the demands of Irish weather – good and bad – to give your home long-lasting good looks. Furthermore we understand that it is mould and mildew resistant, has excellent spread and coverage, is easy to clean and resists dirt pick-up too. The card has been specifically

Hardware & Homestyle News designed to help the About Colortrend customer choose the For sixty years Colortrend have been committed to manuright product and colour facturing premium quality paints from their headquarters in for their exterior painting Celbridge, Co Kildare. project. Colortrend use only the highThe colour card has est quality pigments and resins useful preparation, prodavailable to blend their paints, uct and colour choice ‘offering their customers the advice and includes lots benefits of outstanding durabilof high quality images ity, wearabilty and lightfastness to showcase various in over 2,000 colours’. colour schemes and Colortrend is only available help the user visualise from select independent paint how colours may look retailers and five compaon their home. ny-owned stores nationwide To give even more colour choice confidence, Did you know? Colortrend’s colour Colortrend paints have been used on world famous flagship cards use only REAL projects both at home and abroad – from the Alaska Pipeline Colortrend paint – so to our very own Ha’penny Bridge. the colour you choose is the colour you see. Popular Colours suggest the best colour choices. It’s by Fleetwood ‘Popular Colours by never been easier to pull together Fleetwood, takes the guesswork out a well-designed home – from bold of coordinating colours throughout accents to balanced hues to subtle your entire home and gives consumneutrals.’ ers the confidence and inspiration to Colours within each of the five show off their personal colour style,’ Popular Colours collections work says Steven McQuillan, marketing beautifully together, no matter how manager for Fleetwood. many or how few are selected. ‘Homeowners can focus on the ‘Take cues to pull the hues into look they want to achieve, and we’ll window treatments, textiles and

Make Your Mark...


red spice


Brushes Mark-John Ltd., 50C Robinhood Industrial Estate Longmile Road Dublin 22 T: 01 456 5023 F: 01 456 5025 E:

The world is full of inspiration help your customers transform their ideas into a reality. Developed for the Independent by the Independent, Johnstone’s offers fantastic margin potential and excellent return on investment.

For further information contact us now on +353 (0) 1 4604406


July•August 2013 11402 JOHR_DIY_Week_Retail_90x130 _soft.indd 1

25/03/2011 10:38


Hardware & Homestyle News decorative accessories. Or update the look of furniture with a fresh coat of paint.’ The interior acrylic paint, manufactured by Fleetwood, is available in any finish including matt, soft sheen, satin and gloss finishes. It will carry the 100% Acrylic seal that marks the company’s high-quality, environmentally preferred coatings. The colour collections are:

Neutral Nuance, Traditional Twist, Personal Imprint, Livable Luxury, Coastal Fusion. Cuprinol’s 39 Shades For Summer. The garden wood experts at Cuprinol are launching thirty-nine colours for summer 2013. ‘Cuprinol’s new colours are ideal for protecting and up-cycling weather-beaten garden furniture, toolsheds, decks, or fences after the harsh winter to spring some life back into the Irish garden.’ Coral Splash, Winter Well and Sweet Blueberry are just some of the colours which garden enthusiasts can use to breathe some life back into their deck, gazebo or wooden flower pots. ‘These colours allow you to be a little more creative in styling your outdoor room.’

Ronseal. ‘Don’t be afraid to be creative,’ is the message from Ronseal. ‘Adding colour to a single element of interior wood ensures an ultra-modern finish. ‘Painting a single panel of a cupboard door in natural stone is a quirky and stylish way to update a room. ‘Alternatively, using blocks of colour in the same palette on a wall or on kitchen cupboards looks daring and bold and ensures you stay on trend in 2013.’

Ronseal One Coat Cupboard & Melamine Paint is a quick and easy way to put life back into your room The paint comes in a satin finish and is available in soft pastel colours: Natural stone, magnolia, black, dusk, fresh blue, ivory, lemon, brilliant white. Available in 750ml. Don’t hide your industrial heritage – 2013 is the year to celebrate it. Highlight any industrial elements in your home with bright colours for instant stand out.

July•August 2013


PAINT ‘Whether you’re looking to completely brighten up or just add a lick of paint to an exterior gate, Triflow can get the job done,’ is the message here. ‘And what’s even better, if you use Triflow then you won’t need to for an-

Hardware & Homestyle News other six years – unless you change your mind on the colour. ‘The anti-rust agents can be painted directly on top of existing rust without the need to use any primer to protect your exterior metal, making the job quick and simple.’ Varian. It is important to get the right tools for the job. I.S. Varian & Co have been supplying brushware in Ireland since 1798 and included in their portfolio is a comprehensive range of paint accessories. Nine separate paint brush ranges and numerous roller sleeves form the backbone of the Varian paint offering which includes everything required by the professional painter and the DIY consumer alike. Also available is a large selection of Roller, Brush and Paint sets – including their best selling 11 piece Paint Set. Rustin’s Brush Restorer. Forgot to clean your brushes after using them? No worries. Brush Restorer removes

Fleetwood launches new Weather Clad Advanced Technology Paint ‘Possibly the most significant change in the Paint Industry is due to phase II of European Legislation on VOC levels in paint,’ points out Fleetwood Paints. ‘The VOC level for solvent-based wall paints has been reduced to 30g/lt. for low gloss and 100g/lt. for higher gloss. ‘This will effectively preclude the use of solvent-based products for large interior surfaces. ‘The VOC level for solvent-based paints for interior and exterior trim has also dropped to 300g/lt. This requirement is certainly achievable with modern technology, but will radically change the nature of solvent-based paints as we know them. ‘Water-based alternatives to traditional solvent-based products will obviously become more available.


‘This new generation of water-based products, particularly for doors and trim, will require a significant education programme by manufacturers to train new users into the idiosyncrasies regarding application and performance.’ To meet this challenge Fleetwood launched a new Advanced Technology, Weather Clad, Exterior Gloss and Satin. They are based on an advanced hybrid resin system that offers ‘the performance qualities usually associated with traditional oil paints, in a quick-drying environmentally sustainable, low VOC formula that cleans up with soap and water’. Formulated with Permacryl technology, the advanced hybrid of Acrylic and Alkyd make it far more durable than most premium paints, we are told.

Resists moisture

Also, the threat of rain or dew will not slow down or delay a


July•August 2013

dried-in paint, varnish and polyurethane from brushes and rollers. One of the many great decorating products from the Rustin’s range. Rustins have added Gold and Silver to their Quick Dry Metal Paint range. This is a low VOC paint for use on both bare and galvanised metal. It can be applied directly without the use of a primer and is suitable for indoor and outdoor use. Containing anti-corrosion additives the paint has a low odour and dries to a smooth satin finish in just 2 hours. Brushes can be cleaned with water. Rustin’s Paint Driers (Terebene). Works great to restore old paint and varnish that has been kept for a long time and has become slow-drying. Add a capful per half-litre of paint or varnish and stir well. Rustin’s Strypit Paint and Varnish Stripper Can be used to remove multiple coats of paint and varnishes that have been applied to wood, metal, glass, stone and masonry surfaces. Non-caustic, dichloromethane-free gel. Works best when applied liberally and allowed to penetrate. Effective use on vertical surfaces. You can find details on further products from Rustins in our feature, ‘DIY Products and Accessories’.

painting project. ‘The advanced, quick-dry formulation resists moisture twice as quickly as standard exterior gloss and satin’ we are told. ‘Newly painted exteriors develop resistance to moisture in just two hours rather than the six hour minimum most coatings require. ‘With superior weather protection you can count on Weather Clad no matter what the forecast and with up to 10 years’ durability it minimizes the need to repaint. ‘It is available in exterior satin and gloss’. The Colour Range can be seen on the new Fleetwood Weather Clad Exterior Colour Card.

Training days

To further communicate the new technology to customers, Fleetwood hold a series of training days at their facility in Virginia, Co. Cavan. Training days concentrate on all aspects of Paint Manufacture from colour matching, quality products, what to use where, and sales training to problem solving. These training days are proving to be a great success and are open to all Fleetwood Stockists.

Hardware & Homestyle News

Buy The Book

Mind Your Own Business Survive and thrive in good times and bad

By Feargal Quinn The O’Brien Press Price: €14.99/£12.99 Best-selling author, businessman and Senator, Feargal Quinn firmly believes every business has the potential to survive, and even thrive, during a recession.


In his new book, Mind Your Own Business, he uses real-life examples from his RTE television programme, Feargal Quinn’s Retail Therapy, as well as valuable experiences gained in his 50-year career in business, to explain exactly how to do it. From the importance of setting the right tone in your business, to placing innovation at the heart of everything you do, responding to your customers’ needs, planning for succession in a family-run business and much more, he challenges many of the bad habits that can build up in businesses. Throughout the book, he provides a range of simple, easy-to-implement steps that owners and managers can take to chart their way out of trouble and achieve success, even in very challenging times. The book is geared at owners and managers of small, medium, and even large businesses.


Looking at some of the themes covered in the book and listed below, it is clear that many lie at the intersection between business and emotion. In small or medium-sized or family businesses, issues such as succession, family dynamics and behaviour patterns can lie at the root of business difficulties. •Daring to be different; Why having fun makes good business sense •Recession as opportunity (avoiding the ‘Can’t See the Wood for the Trees’ syndrome) •Why doing nothing is not an option – keep calm, but don’t carry on as before! •Taking precautions: the importance of good ‘family planning’ •It’s a listening thing – don’t make aliens of your customers •Take risks – why failure should always be an option in your business •Have the conversation: Don’t let unspoken words threaten the future of your business •Learn to stand on the shoulders of others

Jack – Business Lessons from Life, Life Lessons from Business By Blaise Brosnan Available from: Eason’s stores or at Price : €20. This latest book by Blaise Brosnan conveys business philosophies and life lessons through a ‘factionalised’ account of a boy named ‘Jack’ who is from a poor rural background. In the story we see the many influences and influencers, good and bad, that direct him on his life’s journey.


The book takes the reader through Jack’s tough times and good times, the influences of his mother Mary Anne and father Mick Denny Bill, his brothers and sisters, his community, poverty and riches. We also see his behavioural and attitudinal changes as well as cultural and social change in Ireland in the 1960s, 70s and 80s and we also witness Jack’s ultimate contribution to society. Jack is a composite fictional character, made up of many of the thousands of people that Blaise has met with, interacted with and influenced in his 40-year career as chief executive of many businesses in Ireland.

Me And My Job

Blaise has also acted as a mentor and consultant to more than 2,000 business owners, CEOs and CFOs in Ireland, America, Europe and Russia.

Hope and direction

The many business and life lessons in this book are subliminally conveyed through Jack’s story and in end-of-chapter pieces which will console and give hope and direction to people of all ages including those ‘going through the throes of business change’. Whether you are a parent, a student, a teacher, an employee, a business owner/ manager or a chief executive of an organisation, you will learn from Jack’s story and Blaise’s unique life and business wisdom. Blaise Brosnan is currently MD of Management Resource Institute, Wexford,

Name: Gerry Fallon Current Position: Brand Development Manager with the Expert Hardware Group Length of time in present role. I am in my second year in this role. What attracted you to the position? Having spent all my working life in hardware retail and previously being a member of the Expert Hardware Group, I felt that I could fulfil the position with a fresh approach and an understanding of the difficulties that currently face all independent hardware stores. What qualities do you think are most valuable for a career as a Brand Development Manager in this industry? Being innovative and a highly motivated team player is key to developing any brand. As the industry is constantly changing to suit consumer trends, an experienced hardware background is a very valuable asset to possess. What do you see as the main goals and challenges in 2013? Continuing the phenomenal growth and success that Expert Hardware has experienced over the last few years is something I am really looking forward to. What have been the highpoints for you in your current role? In September of last year we launched ‘Inside Expert Hardware’ which is an innovative new concept that incorporates cutting edge internal shop layout, design and merchandising best practice throughout the Group. This has proven to be a huge success with all our members. I also think having Expert Hardware featured regularly in the Today Show on RTE was a further stepping stone in making the brand recognised as a household name as it now is today. What makes you most fulfilled in your job? The fact that new challenges and a diverse set of projects appear on a daily basis means that I am constantly learning new ideas and skills. What do you see as the main challenges facing the industry? I speak to many independent hardware stores and suppliers on a daily basis and being prepared and organised for another tough year is proving to be a huge challenge for all. Is there anyone who has been inspirational to you and who you particularly admire in the industry? Throughout his working life, my father had a work ethic and determination that I constantly aspire to and I always admire him for that. I am also very fortunate to work with a Board of Directors, who have guided the group since its inception just a few short years ago, to the dynamic group that it is has become in the industry.

July•August 2013



Hardware & Homestyle News

The days of hiring the professionals are largely gone where the average household is concerned. Where possible, homeowners are now doing their own property maintenance and repairs. The reasons are largely financial of course but a general trend towards self-sufficiency has also been manifesting itself right across our society. The results have been far-reaching and manufacturers and suppliers have responded with a range of new products and accessories.

On form suppliers meet DIY demand! Picture courtesy of Knauf, see panel Page 47

Starting with the DIY basics, its not long before our thoughts turn to ladders. For DIY work requiring ladders, Irish Wire Products suggest Hailo. Irish Wire distribute Hailo products to hardware merchants nationwide. ‘As a leading maufacturer of ladders, steps and waste bins, Hailo offers customers a wide range of innovative products that set standards,’ says Shane O’Riordan, commercial manager, Irish Wire Products. All their products are developed, manufactured and tested under the new European standard EN131. ‘Hailo helps to make DIY work requiring ladders safer and easier,’ we are informed. As a quality brand, they are a strong partner for the retail industry. Attic Ladders. Irish Wire have recently launched an addition to their own brand Easi-Fix range – attic ladders. These attic ladders are European manufactured and available in two sizes 120/60 and 120/55. They come fully assembled with insulated hood, dovetail joints, non-slip steps and metal handrail. They are also tested for heavy loads (150kg). ‘You can be assured our Easi-Fix

suppiers work to the highest standard and carry product insurance,’ says Shane O’Riordan. Looking to add light? ‘RoofLITE is your solution.’ RoofLITE Windows are supplied by Altaterra – a large European maufacturer of roof windows with sales in 30 countries. It is part of the VKR group and has over 60 years’ experience in maufacturing these products. RoofLITE, depending on the model selected, is a very competitive range that is currectly 20% to 30% cheaper than some leading windows on the market, we are told. Buying a Rooflite window means that you will benefit from the best quality materials, Backed up by an incredible 10 year guarantee. ‘A realiable window with thermal and watertight performance levels that are rigorously tested according to the latest European standards and all that at the best price on the market.’ Decor Ireland secures exclusive deal on significant brands. Although Decor Ireland’s traditional market, as their name suggests, is the painting and decorating sector, since adding the gardening and light hardware sectors to their target customer base through the acquisition

Simpson Strong-Tie The Construction Products Regulation will come into force in the UK and Ireland this year and Simpson Strong-Tie has set up a resource on its website to help customers know where they stand. The Construction Products Regulation (CPR) replaces the Construction Products Directive (CPD). As a result of the change CE marking will soon become mandatory in the UK and Ireland. Not a problem for Simpson Strong-Tie who adopted CE marking of its products in 2004. Ian Harrison, European technical director of Simpson Strong-Tie says: ‘As far as construction connectors are concerned, the new regulations will mainly affect masonry connectors and plasterers’ bead and mesh, but we invested heavily across our entire product range over the past 10 years, so distributors and end-users can be confident our products are fully compliant with the new regulations. ‘To help make things a little clearer we will publish guidance on our website and can advise customers which of our products are affected and, if necessary, investigate any products that our customers are concerned about.’

Wes Chem continues to impress with its range of products. Fungi Buster is formulated to remove red discolouration found on houses, kerbs and outside walls. Fungi Buster eliminates power-washing and will not discolour walls. No scrubbing is required. It contains no bleach or acids and is fully biodegradable. The product has a dilution rate of 10 : 1 and 5 Litres will cover an area of 210 sq m or 385 sq yards. This product is available in all builder providers and hardware stores nationwide. Need any more technical advice on the product or like to order some? Simply contact

July•August 2013


GreenFx Label_Layout 1 12/03/2013 09:05 Page 1

■ No mud ■ Non slip ■ No mowing or edge cutting

■ ■ ■ ■ ■

■ No mud friendly ■ WeedEnvironmentally free ■ Latex backing Non slip ■ Suitable for indoor and outdoor use ■ Colour fast & excellent No mowing or edge ■ Available in 12mm, 20mmproperties & 30mm cutting resilience thick, 4m2 & 8m2 rolls ■ Weed free Available in 12mm, 20mm & 30mm thick, 4m2 & 8m2 Suitable for indoor and rolls outdoor use

■ Latex backing ■ Colour fast & excellent resilience properties ■ Environmentally friendly


Unit M2C, Greenogue Business Park, Rathcoole, Co. Dublin

Ph: 00 353 1 4011666 Fax: 00 353 1 4011711 Web:


Hardware & Homestyle News Attic ladder – see Irish Wire on page 41

of an existing supplier in 2012, they have made significant strides to firmly establish their presence in these markets. This progress has certainly not gone unnoticed, with manufacturers beating a path to their door looking to become part of their success, we are told. One such supplier is Dvize, the license holder for Stanley and Black & Decker branded garden hand tools, watering products and PPE. Dvize has appointed Decor Ireland as their sole distributor in Ireland for these products and Decor Ireland believes that with these instantly recognized brands, which are inseparably linked to both the professional and

RetroGrip from DS Supplies

DIY markets, they can offer customers significant opportunity to secure additional revenue in-store. True to their pedigree the Stanley and Black & Decker brands offer a comprehensive product portfolio which can be tailored to suit store size and customer profile, all amply supported with merchandising assistance, relevant point-of-sale material and product training, where required.

DS Supplies is a company that that always has something interesting to offer. Its RetroGrip anti-slip inserts (opposite) are designed to quickly cure slippery decking. Just drop RetroGrip into the grooves to add an elegant anti-slip finish to decking. Easy to fit with an excellent anti-slip finish, the product fits the majority of decking. It is also hardwearing with an elegant low-profile design. It can even extend the life of a deck, we understand. RetroGrip inserts are aluminium strips, filled with resin and hardwearing non-slip aggregates. They are fitted with nothing more than a line of adhesive and in some circumstances, a few screws.

Make your and your customers choice simple Visit us on Stand G7


The innovative filler and finishing plaster for indoor and out door use New Point of Sale Material available designed to maximise sales ALL NEW 16 page brochure ALL NEW Shelf Talker/Wobbler ALL NEW Free Standing Display

Distributed by:

July•August 2013


Relax, We Know CPR We’ve been CE marking our products since 2004, so you can rest easy. Every single Simpson Strong-Tie connector which needs to meet the requirements of CPR - already does. Visit for more information.

Your #1 source for building materials

Cut down on your amount of suppliers and buy from 1 source

!Primsource! •Direct importers of products such as builders’ polythene •Builders’/gardening wheelbarrows •All fixings •Breathable felts •Plaster beads and metal work •Expertise in sourcing specific products for our customers Primesource ‘success through service’

Opening accounts today Call us today on 01 8204930 Unit 3, Coolmine Central, Dublin 15


Hardware & Homestyle News Painting sector. Obviously, whilst this is a significant development for Decor Ireland, they are also ever aware of the need to keep in touch with their roots in the painting sector and continue to source and develop products for this market with new products coming on stream in the coming months. These products, offered alongside their stalwart brands such as Zinsser, Blackfriar and Tetrion, mean that Decor Ireland will continue to be a key supplier to the decorating, gardening and hardware merchant market for the foreseeable future. Tec 7. Customers choose

Tec7 because it is well renowned for its better value, extra product, being stronger and being trusted. This is the message from Contech Building Products. ‘Tec7 has become the Number one choice for the trade person and DIY enthusiast because they know it gets the job done first time every time, EVEN UNDER WATER. ‘Because of its overall strength, flexibility, sealing and mounting quality, customers know that Tec7 sticks to almost all building materials, including most plastics,’ is the message. ‘And with each cartridge containing 310ml of product,

Prime Source – the ‘can-do’ company! ‘A one stop shop for commodity products for merchants,’ that’s how Ryan O’Leary describes Prime Source – a new organisation that has been making an impression in the marketplace recently. ‘Our main aim is to bring direct imports from Asia into Ireland and offer reduced prices as a result,’ Ryan explains. The main items here include staple products such as builders’ polythene, wheelbarrows, weed killers and breathable membrane. Commitment What makes Prime Source different is perhaps the sheer enthusiasm and level of commitment from this owner-led organisation. These guys are determined and they are serious about meeting customer demands. ‘We are selling commodity products here,’ adds Ryan. ‘The way we can be different is in how we work with people and in the standard of service we give to them. ‘Success through service. That’s what it’s all about, he explains. ‘We go to the lengths we need to go to in order to ensure that the customer is happy and they have what they need.’ Focussed Prime Source is small and it is focussed and it is hungry for business. Moreover it is a family affair with Ryan and his brother Paul doing the selling on the road. This last point is an important one, they believe. It is certainly our experience that many people – particularly

Irish people – like to deal with those who are behind the running of the business, the ones calling the shots if you like. The advantage for customers here of course is that there is a huge personal involvement and therefore, interest, when it comes to the organisation and its running – and when it omes to keeping the customer happy. Leinster Geographically, the main area covered is Leinster but Prime Source is making inroads in other parts of the country too. In fact, it can offer a next-day nationwide delivery service. ‘With our own vans we offer a same day Dublin delivery service meanwhile,’ says Ryan. ‘We are here to please and we have all the commodity products people are buying every day,’ he adds. ‘We are expanding our range, we are listed with major buying groups and we can offer products through the groups.’ As for the future there are exciting plans including a rull range of gardening products next spring. Service Meanwhile, the idea is to keep it tight, to meet customer demands and maintain a very high level of responsiveness and service. ‘You have to respond to what people want,’ stresses Ryan. ‘The day you lose that attitude you are on the way down.’ There seems little danger of that at Prime Source where the future looks bright. We look forward to the next instalment of the story!

See panel, page 47

they are getting better value compared to most other MS Polymer’s on the market.’ With customers expecting high quality from the Tec7

range of products, the all new Tec7 Filler, introduced last September as part of the range is no exception, we are reminded. This all-in-one Filler and

Your Complete Supplier

Since 1935

July•August 2013


Stick with the best.

Freephone: 1800 340 156 (ROI) or 08000 390 156 (NI) Email:










TERM 2000 Instant Heat Space Saving No Pre-Heating Time Energy Saving






Emission Free Indoor & Outdoor Use

Abrasives display

Drill bit display

ABC Abrasives Ltd Unit 8B, Malahide Rd, Industrial Park, Malahide Road, dublin 17 T: 848 6109 • 848 5683 • 848 5697 • 848 6073 F: 848 6104 E: www.

Weather Proof Short Wave Infared Technology

South Coast Sales

Doughcloyne Ind. Est., Wilton, Cork Tel: 021 4346143

Hardware & Homestyle News Black & Decker, see Decor Ireland

Finishing Plaster, also suitable for indoor and outdoor use, has proven to be a great success since its introduction to the market. Tec7 Filler is lightweight, remains flexible, does not crack or shrink and fills gaps up to 30mm. Toolbank forges ahead with an exclusive range of Hardware and Security Products. Toolbank are pleased to launch ‘an exclusive new range of over 250 Forge Hardware and Security Products, all manufactured to the relevant ISO, OHSAS and local authority standards’. The range offers trade quality products supported by a strong brand message, supplied in retail packaging with the necessary fixings and fitting instructions to allow usage straight from the packet. ‘The range is market priced with many items supplied in user friendly packs of 2, 5 or 10 pieces, we are told. The launch is further supported by a comprehensive full colour catalogue which falls into three categories: •Handles •Internal Ironmongery •External Ironmongery It’s also a handy guide as it shows every product in the range, and includes a useful guide to handle selection. Stock is available for delivery with immediate effect and is supported by the usual Toolbank service of 24/48 hour delivery, full b2b visibility with on-line ordering, helpful and knowledgeable sales representatives local to your business plus office-based sales people to help you manage your account. ‘Forge product is suitable for all markets, industries and channels and is a useful add-on to an existing Toolbank order, rather than having to manage separate orders from multiple suppliers.’ Rustins Decking Oil range – new


Knauf MPFinish Plaster.‘A finish that goes further’ Knauf MPFinish from Knaufdrywall is a high-quality finish plaster with superior coverage. ‘In fact, Knauf MPFinish can cover over 40% more area than traditional finish plaster,’ we are told, ‘saving you time and money on site’. With a high gypsum purity, Knauf MPFinish gives a superb white finish and is ideal for both traditional hand application and modern spray methods. Of course, the white decorative finish of the MPFinish product saves on decorating time as well. ‘So it would seem that, no matter how big the project is, or how you’re applying your finish, Knauf MPFinish has it covered,’ is the message. Easy Plaster. From Knaufdrywall, this, ready-mixed repair plaster for walls and ceilings comes in 2.5 Litre and 6 Litre sizes. It has a resealable lid, a metal handle and a printed / branded tub. Features and Benefits Filling cracks in walls & ceilings Filling cracks Filling holes (up to 40mm)

Skimming Skimming over textured plaster Skim over artex Levelling uneven surface areas Skim to a smooth finish Ceilings Fill surface cracks in ceilings up to 40mm deep Fill surface holes in ceilings up to 40mm deep Holes Fill surface holes in ceilings up to 40mm deep Use a trowel or spatula Cracks Fill surface cracks in wall / ceilings up to 40mm deep Features include 1. Ready mixed 2. Lightweight and easy to apply 3. Hard, yet flexible (won’t shrink or crack) 4. 2.5L & 6L tub sizes Ideal for 1. Repairs around pipes and electrical fittings 2. Filling surface cracks and holes 3. Levelling uneven areas 4. Skimming over textured plaster

colours added. Rustins has added Natural Available size: 2Ltr Pine, Natural Cedar and Natural Oak to Rustins Sticky-Off - sticky adhesive their Decking Oil range. These hard wearremover. A great new sticky adhesive ing, water-resistant oils not only enhance remover has been added to the Rustins the colour of your decking, but also leave a cleaning range. natural finish. Available in a handy pump spray bottle, They contain Ultra Violet light inhibitors, Sticky-Off is ideal to have at home or take plus biocide which protects the oil against with you on the move. mould and algae growth. Sticky-Off is perfect for tackling the Available in 2.5 litre and 5 litre, in Clear, residue left by gum, glue, labels, tape and Natural Pine, Natural Cedar and Natural adhesives from surfaces such as: glass, Oak. plastic, metal, wood, worktops and clothes. Rustin’s Garden Furniture Cleaner is a Simply spray liberally onto the subblend of special cleaning agents to remove stance you want to remove, then allow the dirt, algae, mildew and grease from wooden Sticky-Off to do the work. Available in 60ml garden furniture. & 100ml pump spray. It cleans and revives, prior to re-finishing Rustins have a very large range of with Rustin’s Quick Dry Garden Furniture products. In our other feature this month: Oil, or any of the other Rustins’ exterior Paint, Coatings and Accessories you can wood finishes. find details on further items of interest such Just spray a small amount of cleaner as: Rustins Brush Restorer, Paint Driers (Teronto the furniture, then use a damp cloth, ebene) Rustin’s Strypit Paint and Varnish sponge or scrubbing brush to remove any Stripper. stubborn stains. Available size: 750ml. Rustin’s Patio Cleaner is based on a blend of special cleaning agents to remove dirt, algae, mildew and grease. new weather strip brown and white in 2.1 and 2.5 metre It is formulatlenghts and a new bottom of door brush sweep ed to clean block which is self adhesive and can be cut to size paving, bricks without a hacksaw or plyers and natural stone on driveways, 11a greencastle parade, coolock, dublin 17 pathways and t: 847 0095 / 847 0134 f: 848 4896 patios prior to coating with Ruse: tin’s Patio Sealer. July•August 2013


Products Introducing the SureStep product range The SureStep product range is an exciting range of Ladder and Painting accessories being manufactured in Ireland and includes the SureStep Ladder Stabiliser and a range of safety and convenience ladder attachment accessories.

Hardware & Homestyle News ‘serves any individual that might be workingat-height on a ladder’. The ladder attachment bracket for each of the accessories is reversible allowing it to be positioned on either side of the ladder accommodating both left- and right-handed users.

Easy Again, the attachment accessories are easy to attach and no tools are required. All of SureStep’s products are: made of steel, made to a high quality, are durable, and have been tested to European Standard EN-131. The SureStep product range is manufactured by WeSolve Ltd, where Aonghus Mc Ginn is Head of Sales. Any store interested in stocking the products can contact Aonghus on +353 (0) 87- 925 13 82 or by email at gus@

Aquabion is the eco-friendly salt-free water softener for tackling limescale Flagship The flagship product, the SureStep Ladder Stabiliser can be attached to any standard-sized aluminium ladder and will prevent the ladder from slipping back or sliding left or right. The product works on all surface types and uneven ground. It attaches in seconds, no tools are required to attach it and it stores easily. In 2011 it was awarded Most Innovative New Product at The National Ploughing Championships. The SureStep range of attachment accessories were introduced to the DIY market in 2012 and have attracted huge interest.

From Germany, Aquabion has over 10 years of testimonials and university endorsements, is easy to install and works by neutralising Limescale so it doesn’t calcify on heating elements, pipe-work or

Contact: Highway Wholesalers Ltd., Mullinabro Business Centre, Ferrybank, Waterford, Republic of Ireland. Tel: + 353 51 872615 Fax: + 353 51 872181 E-Mail: Web:

New Clarke catalogue for 2013 Clarke International has launched a brand new catalogue for 2013. Loaded with over 3,000 product lines and with over 270 pages, it is Clarke’s biggest catalogue to date.

Hundreds Featuring hundreds of new products including Hand Tools, Power Tools, Air Compressors, Generators, Garage Equipment and much, much more, there’s something new for everyone! Among the many new products, Clarke’s new range of instant garages offers a host of possibilities for outdoor storage. The Clarke CIG1220 20’ garage can be put up in a matter of hours and will provide a sturdy, weatherproof shelter for vehicles, machinery and storage whatever the weather.

Including The practical SureStep attachment accessories include a Paint Can Holder, a Bucket Holder, a Paint Tray Holder and a multipurpose Tool Holder. With the SureStep accessories a worker is free to use their hands whilst working on a ladder, allowing for greater safety and productivity, we are told. Already the Paint Can Holder and the Paint Tray Holder have been adopted by professional and amateur painters alike. The Bucket Holder is ideal for window cleaning or gutter cleaning but has an appeal for a variety of other users and the multipurpose Tool Holder


July•August 2013

Protect appliances, preventing expensive repairs and replacements.

No maintenance Guaranteed for 5 years and with an average lifespan of 7 years, Aquabion requires NO MAINTENANCE over its lifetime! It’s safe to drink water treated through an Aquabion – no salt is used. The Aquabion S -20 has a RRP of €699.

Featuring a heavy duty powder coated frame and topped with a ratchet tightened, waterproof, polyethylene triple layer cover, you can protect your pride and joy from the elements at a fraction of the cost of a conventional building. Available in 16’, 20’ and 24’ versions. For more details on Clarke products or to find your nearest Clarke stockist, call +44 (0)1992 565335 or email: export@ or go to: www.


Hardware & Homestyle News

Fakro opens a Showroom and Training Centre in Ireland Fakro Roof Windows were first introduced to the Irish market in early 2000 when Fakro and Tradecraft Building Products Ltd formed a partnership in order to market and distribute the Fakro Brand throughout Ireland.

Quality Within a short space of time the Roofing Industry in Ireland started to appreciate the highly engineered and excellent product quality of the Fakro Roof Windows range allied to a growing reputation for friendly and professional customer service to its rapidly expanding customer base. ‘Over the last decade Fakro has expanded its product offering to include a full range of Loft Ladders for which it is now firmly the market leader in Ireland along with the introduction of a range of Breathable Roof Membranes, Flexible and Rigid Sun Tunnels and of course Solar Panels,’ we are told. Fakro has always been fully committed to developing its business in Ireland and this commitment is exemplified by the investment policy it has pursued with The Irish Agrement Board (IAB) as well as The British Board of Agrement (BBA) in terms of engaging with the Certification process in order to ensure that all Fakro branded product is in full compliance with the latest Building Regulations in both the Republic of and Northern Ireland.

Partnership Throughout this journey Fakro and Tradecraft Building Products Ltd have worked together with a Partnership driven model that has proved to be extremely successful as both companies merge their Sales, Marketing and Technical expertise for the benefit of the Fakro Brand in Ireland. Fakro and Tradecraft are now happy to announce that a new and innovative Product Showroom and Technical Training Centre has been opened at the Tradecraft logistics centre in Tougher Business Park, Newbridge Road, Naas, Co Kildare ‘in order for Architects, Engineers, Quantity Surveyors, Merchants, Building Contractors, Roofing Contractors and of course the general public to visit and view the entire Fakro product range in a state-of-the-art facility’. ‘In fact all visitors are very welcome and we will look forward to showing everyone what differentiates Fakro from its competitors,’ is the message to readers. ‘The Fakro Brand has completed well over a decade in the Irish marketplace and we are

now more determined than ever to deliver to our customers further innovative and exciting products within the Roof Window, Loft Ladder, Sun Tunnel, Roof Membrane and Solar Panel sectors in the years ahead.’ Contact: 045 409 050 or

Toby wagons – an Irish success story An Irish mum’s difficulty in buying a product inspired her son to manufacture his own and go into business selling online.


Made for a lifetime of utility, Toby Wagons are built of an all–metal construction meaning children, adults, sports clubs and even schools have all found uses for them. They have proved so popular with festival goers that they are now rented for festival weekends too. Toby wagons is also developing its own range of children’s bikes.

Brabantia launches the ultimate home organizer - the multipurpose Binny Be bright, be bold and, most importantly, be organized! Brabantia has launched four colourful wall-mounted multi-functional waste and storage organizers to help keep the home tidy and clutter-free.


Dublin man Derrick Bell created Toby Wagons, a form of the traditional American red wagon and has started selling them online, into Irish retail outlets and, lately, exporting them around Europe. ‘The red wagon is a pull-along cart that is the staple of every household in America,’ says Derrick. ‘It is used by adults and children alike. Their sturdiness and simplicity means that they can be used for carrying toys, logs, gardening equipment and even animal feeds. ‘My mother wanted a cart to carry essentials while out with her grandchildren but couldn’t find a suitable one,’ explains Derrick. ‘I looked online and couldn’t find anything either. ‘We would have had to source an American one which was too expensive. That gave me the idea of creating my own at a more affordable rate and Toby Wagons was launched.’ Toby Wagons has got the thumbs up from customers in Ireland and abroad. ‘We started selling online on our website last year and soon we started getting enquiries from the UK which resulted in the launch of a UK version of the site,’ continues Derrick.

Scope ‘Recently we started getting orders from France, The Netherlands and requests from as far afield as Australia so this product certainly has plenty of scope to become an Irish exporting success story,’ adds Derrick.

The highly space-efficient 10 litre Binny is available in Lipstick Red, Apple Green, Lavender and Grey. It includes a sturdy plastic lid with grip and a clever hinge design so the lid

opens and closes silently. Suitable as a stylish yet discreet bathroom and kitchen waste solution, or perhaps a garage must-have for storing and protecting small garden tools, the multipurpose bright coloured Binnys are also the ideal way to keep children’s bedrooms clutter-free and may even encourage them to tidy-up after themselves! The Binnys are also designed to fit easily in both kitchen and bathroom cupboards to provide a secret storage organizer or waste bin.

Easy The plastic bucket is easy to load, empty and clean. For waste management, matching Brabantia bin liners (code C) are available in plastic and compostable material. Made from high quality, corrosion resistant material and with a 10-year Brabantia guarantee, these will stand the test of time from childhood through to adult life, we are informed.

July•August 2013


Room outside

Hardware & Homestyle News

A wise Greek once said, ‘the only constant is change.’ Nothing could be more apt in the current climate in Ireland, writes gardening correspondent, Liam Kelly.

Transforming your operation? It has been as difficult to predict the long-term ups and downs of the economy as it has been to predict the shortterm weather over the last number of years and the poor performance of both has meant hardware and gardening have become some of retail’s most challenging sectors.

Change and adapt

With both factors affecting sales, most retailers who are succeeding have had to change and adapt. Many that haven’t have disappeared into the abyss while others teeter on the brink. But change is good and although the catalyst in this case is not ideal, at least it challenges us, makes us grow and brings out our fighting spirit. No business succeeds by remaining stagnant and certainly not one that hopes to emerge the far side of the current predicament. But change not only needs to be embraced, it also needs to be controlled and directed. There are a plethora of companies out there that deal solely with change within organisations but in the months to come I hope to suggest some changes that can be made by you within your own stores.


Hardware shops and garden centres have transformed dramatically over the last number of years and many of the most


July•August 2013

successful are no longer selling just their traditional lines. Hardware shops now boast Giftware, Homeware and Pet sections as well as garden centres, while garden centres themselves have become destination shopping experiences offering Food, Gifts, Christmas shops and events as well as the usual merchandise. It can be argued that the better retailers from both sectors have become so alike that they are no longer covered by terms such as ‘hardware shop’ and ‘garden centre’ and have both become home and lifestyle stores, but perhaps with an emphasis on their original core business.


Interestingly the major factor affecting hardware stores has been economic, compounded by the collapse of the building trade, while the major factor and catalyst for change for the garden centres is to a lesser degree the economy and to a greater degree the weather, for the following reasons. Gardening has always had a therapeutic affect on the psyche – as a way to lose your worries and alleviate stress. Combining this with the exercise element, the sheer pleasure of gardening and our desire to create ‘the room outside’ means that gardening, although affected, isn’t subject to the vagaries of the economy to the same extent that other sectors are. But unfortunately it is subject to the weather, and the cold and wet we have experienced this spring, not to mention over the last number of years, has dampened the trade – excuse the pun – to an unprecedented low.

Room outside

Hardware & Homestyle News

So, what do you want to be? I started this article with comments on change and the need for hardware stores – and garden centres – to evolve into something more. There are a number of ways to achieve this but the first thing to do is sit down and plan your strategy. It seems obvious but you can only do this by knowing what you want to be. Do you want to be a lifestyle centre with all the bells, whistles – and headaches – that come with such a venture? Do you want to be more of a community-based hub of knowledge, local products and events? Or perhaps you want to focus on e-commerce and online selling?


Of course none of these are mutually exclusive but the point is that you need a vision of where you want to be in order to get to that point. Like a sprinter – or more appropriately a middle distance runner – you need to see that finish line and know the lane that gets you there. Of course then you can start your next race! Sticking with this analogy,


We have seen glimmers of the potential for gardening on the bank holiday weekends when the sun shines and everything comes together to stimulate sales and get people out in their gardens – cause for optimism if nothing else. Shows such as Bloom and other initiatives both at local and national levels have also helped to stimulate interest in gardening, although there are many who would argue that a lot more could be done. But having said all of that, it would be wrong to assume that you can just throw a few plants on benches, roll in a pallet of compost, a few pots, a dumper of plant food and that when the sun shines the customers will just appear and buy.


There’s more to it than that, as everyone knows. So here are a few of the topics I will be covering over the coming issues. I hope they will help highlight some

maybe it’s more of a relay where each part of the whole race is separately run and separately led but where all the team are winners in the end. Knowing what you want to evolve into involves talking and – more importantly – listening to those around you. Be it staff, customers, professionals or family, all will have an input and should be asked the question, ‘Where do we go from here?’


Then you can create a realistic plan – vision – goal – call it what you want, of where you want to be in six months or a year, or even 10 years’, time. Sure, the plan will evolve and change just as you hope your business will but that’s fine as long as you cross that finish line in one piece. Just mind out for the hurdles and more appropriately, the water hazard! There is a wealth of help out there too, from local and government organisations, industry professionals, online resources and – most importantly – suppliers. If there is one important thing

areas where there might be a gap in your knowledge or where improvements could be made to your store. Although I will be looking at them from the gardening sector angle, most will be relevant to retail in general with a little shoe-horning. Merchandising and general layout are both important subjects and I will be covering both over the coming months. I will look at the creative aspect of merchandising and how to craft a little theatre in your store while also pushing link sales. And of course layout is vitally important because of its need to lead the customer around the shop, pinging them to the higher margin, higher turnover products without them being overly aware of the process at work.


Customer care and product knowledge are now more important than ever. With less traffic and footfall in your store the need to make every customer feel

that has come out of the last number of years it is that we can’t operate in isolation. Everyone within the sector needs to work together in order to grow together and, for that, communication is the key.


It’s amazing what picking up the phone and talking frankly with suppliers, your local enterprise board or even your perceived competitors can achieve. Take your suppliers for example: they will only succeed if you succeed so it’s in their best interest to help you – within reason – to achieve your goals and objectives. It’s by fostering these relationships that we can all win. And that’s the important thing…that we all win. I will leave you with more words of inspiration. It’s an over-quoted paraphrase of a paraphrase but I think it’s quite appropriate given how I’ve used the word ‘evolve’ so much in this article. ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.’

special coupled with converting product knowledge into sales is key to the success of any business. Training and the right personnel are both key to this of course. Both of these areas on their own won’t count for much without the right product, at the right time and at the right price so I will also cover subjects such as how best to apply value – a word often misconstrued as ‘cheap’ – to gardening products, and highlight new trends and products, plus ways of trying to extend the season. I will also touch on other areas such as wastage – a major concern in some stores – and plant care, buying strategies and budgeting, and issues such as EPOS and reporting, plus of course e-commerce and the use of technology to assist and drive sales. No doubt many other subjects will raise their heads as the season progresses, so watch this space!

About Liam

Liam was general manager of one of the largest garden centres in the country, where he was instrumental in transforming it into a large lifestyle store. He established Retail Services & Solutions in 2007 and has since worked with many garden centres, nurseries and hardware stores in Ireland. He has experienced every aspect of garden centre work.

July•August 2013


Tech Talk

Hardware & Homestyle News Dreaming of life in the future and imagining how our world will change as a result of the gadgets and technology in our homes and lives. This has long been a hobby of Colin Bakers!

Welcome home, Mr Bond Imagining our future world. It seems that this is not a new or isolated topic for daydreams. We’ve been doing it for centuries and it can be quite entertaining to look back at past predictions.

Five computers!

In 1943 a Mr Thomas Watson of IBM predicted that there would only ever be a market for perhaps five computers in the WORLD in the future. A Mr Olson, responsible for the manufacture of large mainframe computers back in 1977 was quoted as saying: ‘There is no reason for anyone ever to need a computer in the home.’ Hindsight is 20/20 and it is easy to smile at the naivety of such remarks now that computers are very much part of the fabric of our world – in every element of our lives. But where is the Robot Maid we were promised? Or the flying car? Or even the hover board – due in two years’ time if we are go by the predictions set out in Back to the Future 2? Well, there’s little hope we’ll be flying to work any time soon or that a robotic helper will arrive to cook up a steak or clean the bathroom.


But there IS quite a bit of impressive tech available for the home and I thought we might just take a gander at a few that we CAN get our hands on. Yes, it’s back to reality. Central Heating Controllers are pretty boring little devices. Set your on and off times. Boost them now and then. That’s pretty much their day job. Thanks to an Irish crowd called CLIMOTE, the age old home fixture gets a kick forward. Using 3g mobile technology and a smartphone app – the central heating and hot water can be controlled easily from any phone or mobile device that is connected to the internet. From ANYWHERE. Not only can you turn it on or off- you can modify the on and off times remotely too. Don’t have a smartphone? The fancy colour screen wall mounted controller will even accept a text message. Ever lost your front door key? Short of losing your fingers, biometric fingerprint locks will ensure you never get


July•August 2013

locked out again!


Aegis amongst other manufacturers out there are cottoning on to the improved security and convenience that customers find with fingerprint door locks – and for less than €300 and a mild interest in DIY you can say goodbye to the jingle of keys. These new door lock mechanisms can be pre-programmed with up to 50 or more fingerprints – and are just as reliable as the old-timers we are already used to. Home automation: With all this wireless technology do we REALLY have to physically WALK over to the light switch any more? LithwaveRF are a company who laugh in the face of such an idea. Through a small wireless box and a simple iPhone or smartphone app they allow you to turn on or off or control almost anything around your home.

Colin Baker gets far too excited for his own good every fortnight on TV3’s Ireland AM when he shows us the latest in tech from the fun and frivolous to the vital and life changing! Colin also heads up Back From The Future and Laptoplab, servicing and repairing the country’s computers and technology.


From security to lighting to the coffee machine, the mobile app will let you control it from anywhere in your home OR away from it. It uses small plug-in wireless switches that replace your existing sockets or light switches. Soothing thing is – because it’s a wireless and modular system, it takes seconds to set up and can be added to as you see fit. What’s on the Box? Television was quite happy, the centre of attention and largely unchanged for a couple of decades until the last 5 years. Thanks to the ever forward momentum of the internet and the advancing availability of new and different digital content from the existing providers and channels as well as new concepts like NetFlix, the offering is somewhat different. Now, when you collapse on the sofa at the end of a busy day, you are not just isolated in choice to that foxy lady on the nine o’clock news.

Catch up

You can catch up on something you missed through a Sky or UPC box, browse your latest social media up-

dates live on your Smart TV or even access any amount of entertainment content on an Apple TV or simply on a laptop or mobile device. One doofer I really like is the Roku box. Not having been furnished with the latest in Smart TV tech (in fact my Telly is 15 years old!) the Roku Box is a tiny purple box that plugs into any old TV and makes it that bit smarter by connecting your TV to the ‘net through your wireless broadband and feeding you with 100’s of customizable online TV channels including the standard terrestrial ones alongside the likes of the massively popular NetFlix. Without commercial breaks and with instant access on demand to 1000’s of TV shows and films it’s amazing how much time it saves. The thing even has Facebook! These are only 80-odd euro too which is an added bonus.


Undoubtedly all these technologies are there to make life that little bit more convenient or even a little more fun. But I can’t help dreaming of that hover-board…

HR News

Hardware & Homestyle News

The Impact of HR on the Small Business The first in a series of articles by Colin Madden


f you run your own business, you’re probably used to doing pretty much everything - whether it’s dealing with customers, handling the paperwork or just making yourself a well-deserved coffee. But there’s a limit to how much one person or a small team of staff can do.

Grow the business

If you’re looking to grow your business, sooner or later you’re probably going to need to think about getting more staff and what that might involve. Human Resource, people management, personnel, workforce development, recruitment, call it what you will - it comes under many labels, and may seem incredibly intimidating to a small business. It can appear as a proverbial minefield with all that process and legislation to negotiate. Yes, dealing with staff and employment issues for a small business can be quite daunting. After all, large corporate and public sector organisations have whole departments dedicated to HR and employ armies of well-trained staff and experts to deal with these issues – but how can small and medium size enterprises be expected to cope? After all, the law surrounding employment is no less applicable to them just because they are small. But it doesn’t have to be that complicated. And if you get it right it could be the pretext to having a positive and motivated team of people working for you and your business.

In this series...

During the course of this series of articles we will be looking across the wider spectrum of HR, Irish and EU employment legislation and employee relations, addressing not just the headline issues I’ve outlined above but also the everyday issues of people management including: How to improve staff performance, dealing with capability issues and absenteeism. We will also look at offering incentives through training and development including work-based learning, and, where to get support i.e. access to funding or quality information, advice and guidance. We will help guide you and keep you up to date with the latest employment law, so you can focus on what really counts – getting the best from your people. Colin Madden is a senior HR and Organisational Change Consultant and Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (FCIPD) with over twenty-five 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

‘It’s about people and getting the best from them’ One of the key decisions for any small business is deciding when to take on staff. Employing others can be a vital step in taking your business to the next level. A dilemma they face is knowing when they need to take on staff and understanding the practical requirements that go with this, from arranging payroll to keeping the right records and keeping on top of legal requirements i.e. employer liability insurance, giving new employees written statements of employment and health and safety in the work place etc. In this column, we will explain how to make recruitment as painless as possible, and outline the key issues to consider. We will also explore alternative options. If managing HR and recruitment requirements yourself is proving a real headache, or you simply don’t have the time or even the inclination you could consider outsourcing to a specialist Recruitment Company or employing the services of a HR Business Partner.

Obviously this would have cost implications. However there are some really good ones out there who are experts at what they do, and don’t charge the earth for it. We will also help identify where SMEs can access free advice and support from sources such as local Chambers of Commerce, HR and employment networks or from HR governing bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development CIPD. Above all, it’s important to understand HR is not just about policies, processes, and legislation it’s about people and getting the best from them. Remember that it’s your employees who will drive the success of your business. It’s critical that employees feel part of the business; they are its heart and soul. You can have the best product in the world, but if you haven’t got people that are passionate about the business the enthusiasm will be missing and the effort diminished as a result.

July•August 2013


The Final Say

Hardware & Homestyle News

James Sweetman is familiar to many in our trade through his work as a Business and Personal Coach. He understands the pressures and the challenges facing operators on a daily basis. His message to Hardware and Homestore News readers: ‘If this recession has taught me anything it is that we have to purposely work on our own state of mind, “protect” ourselves from the fear and negativity that pervades – and control what is within our control, including our response to the uncontrollable.’

An antidote for pessimism! Whilst pessimism is a form of self-defence and cynicism is simply frustrated idealism, living an optimistic view of reality is a modern definition of leadership and leadership starts by taking the lead in our own lives and careers. Here are eight simple tips for boosting your positivity quotient.

1. Purposely look for one good thing each day We get what we focus on. If you enter a room and you want to notice everything in that room that is red, you will be searching for the red. The same thing applies in life. If you are seeking the negative you will find it. If you seek the positive, you will find it too.

2. Know one thing you want to get done each day

A great question to ask ourselves at any time is: ‘What’s the most important thing to focus on right now?’ Starting the day, think about one thing you would like to achieve. Maybe it is a work-related goal you can progress before you start checking email and are sucked into other people’s urgencies. Or it might be as simple as getting the grocery shopping done. Either way, you are fostering a sense of achievement.

3. Smile

It’s a cliché but a pleasant expression may just boost someone else’s day. We know life is better for all when smiles, compliments and words of encouragement are exchanged. ‘The optimist is wrong as often as the pessimist, but he is always far happier.’

4. Do you want to be kind or do you want to be right?

The late Australian novelist Bryce Courtenay said: ‘If you are pleasant and nice you are probably going to be conned, but in the long run it’s a better journey because you are going to win – you will win more friends, more character and

more joy.’ In challenging situations ask yourself what would be the kind thing to do?

5. Less TV news

A trend in recent ‘news’ broadcasting is to emphasise the emotional impact of events not just the imparting of facts. For this reason, I rarely watch the TV news, but I stay informed by getting my news online. We can have sympathy for the misfortunes of others, but we shouldn’t take on the troubles and worries of others when we have our own issues to deal with.

6. Forgive and maybe forget!

So often we drink the poison of anger and resentment in the hope that it will harm someone else, but it really only harms us. I forgive others because I want to feel better, it has nothing to do with them. From a self protection perspective I may or may not forget another person’s actions or comments, but life is too short not to forgive. What can you release and let go of? What do you need to forgive yourself for?

7. Uncommon Gratitude

‘If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.’ -Meister Eckhart. Gratitude is an attitude, a habit and the antidote for fear, guilt and sadness. Yes, there is plenty for us to moan and groan about, but there is also plenty for us to be thankful for. There are the big things like our health, our family and friends, the food on the table, and there are the little things that we take for granted every day. Right now, list ten things you are grateful for.

8. Get Inspired

What inspires you? When we are inspired, we feel motivated, creative and energised by a sense of possibility. If we

How to Excel at Interviews By James Sweetman


Whether you are going for your first interview or you want to refresh your interviewing skills, then this eBook is for you.

Questions and tips

You will discover common interview questions and tips for answering them. You will learn how to manage your nerves and portray confidence as well as tips for putting your mind at ease about body language. Learn all about competencies and how to structure your answers to demonstrate your skills and expertise. Currently free to download, this ebook contains the fundamentals of interview preparation, ensuring you walk into your interview as prepared and as polished as you can be. Below is the link to the publisher’s site for the free download: Watch out for our review of James’ new book, Soar – Powerful Questions that will transform your life, coming in our next issue! Cant’ wait? Check out his website for more today.

know what or who inspires us, it makes sense to be able to connect with our sources of inspiration as purposely and as frequently as possible. Many sources of inspiration are free or cost very little, for example, museums, art galleries and libraries, not to mention walks in nature. Like most people, I’m inspired by other people’s stories, particularly stories of how others have overcome challenges or difficulties. It is interesting to think that perhaps how we overcome some of our own challenges could be a source of inspiration for others.

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 www. Or e-mail him at You can subscribe for free to James’s monthly ezine at and follow him on Twitter @ JamesSweetman


July•August 2013

Amefa (Richardson) Cook’s Knives

Bentley Brushware


The definitive magazine for the hardware, homestyle, DIY and garden centre industry.


The definitive magazine for the hardware, homestyle, DIY and garden centre industry.