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THE

Hardware

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013

JOURNAL

THE VOICE OF THE IRISH HARDWARE INDUSTRY HAI Budget Submission The results of the recent nationwide industry survey carried out on behalf of HAI has provided critical insights into the state of the sector, and helped set priorities in the framing of the HAI Budget submission.

Joe Harlin Apart from GAA refereeing and administration, did you know that Joe Harlin once was a lab technician, and rubbed shoulders with Tariq Bin Laden (yes, Osama’s half-brother!)? Facebook Made Simple Facebook is the big one when it comes to social media. It may seem daunting to set up a business profile but it is really very simple. Carbon Tax Implications Coming in to the heating season merchants traditionally look forward to a significant sales boost, but the Solid Fuel Carbon Tax has dented that optimism.

HAI industry survey findings to feature in Budget submission

Profit is the Target Luke Dolan, in a sort of gamekeeper turned poacher role since leaving B&Q, suggests 10 simple-to-execute practical things to do right now to drive business.


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IN THIS ISSUE Dear Reader

14

HAI Budget Submission The results of the recent nationwide industry survey carried out on behalf of HAI has provided critical insights into the state of the sector, and helped set priorities in the framing COVER of the HAI Budget submission. See survey synopsis page 12.

T

STORY

F E AT U R E S 18 Carbon tax implications Coming in to the heating season merchants traditionally look forward to a significant sales boost but the new Solid Fuel Carbon Tax has dented that optimism.

26 Boyles of Killorglin The Hardware Journal goes behind the scenes at Boyles of Killorglin, Octabuild Awards National Winner 2013 to find a mix of tradition and modernity make for a dynamic, forward-looking business.

36 View from Abroad This month we look to Hardware Retailing in the US and select a number of simple but very effective ideas to help attract customers into your store, and also to capture sales once you have them in.

38 Facebook made simple Facebook is the big one when it comes to social media. It may seem daunting to set up a business profile but it is really very simple.

40 Another Side of …

31 Profit is the target Luke Dolan, in a sort of gamekeeper turned poacher role since leaving B&Q, suggests 10 simple-to-execute practical things to do right now to drive business.

34 ‘Ireland’s premier tool company’ While the merger of Tucks and PE O’Brien is all about the present and the future, it is also important to acknowledge the 201-year combined history of the two companies.

31

26

o further reinforce its representation on behalf of members, and to better prepare its Budget Submission, HAI commissioned leading professionals Behaviour & Attitudes to conduct a survey among members during the month of June. The purpose of the survey was to compile an accurate, fact-based picture of the hardware sector in Ireland, and to identify the areas of most concern to members. The findings have now been collated and paint a very accurate picture of the industry in Ireland. Quite a number of issues emerged as needing attention, key among them being the following: • Keeping sales/business coming in; • Keeping costs to a minimum; • Increasing the level of disposable income among shoppers; • Ensuring sufficient working capital/cashflow); • Maintaining adequate stock levels; • Current level of economic growth in Ireland. HAI has made representation to Government on these matters already but will, over the coming weeks and months, ramp up the pressure, using the survey’s findings to help formulate more targetspecific strategies going forward. These will also feature in the HAI Budget submission which we will include in the next issue.

Everyone knows Joe Harlin … or do they? Apart from GAA refereeing and administration, did you know he once was a lab technician, and rubbed shoulders with Tariq Bin Laden (yes, Osama’s half-brother!)?

34

REGULARS 2 News and products 12 HAI Clipboard A bulletin board for HAI members

25 HAI golf news September/October 2013

❙ THE HARDWARE JOURNAL 1


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News

Editor Pat Lehane t: 01 288 5001 m: 086 255 7363 e: pat@thehardwarejournal.ie w: thehardwarejournal.ie

PRODUCTS

Flogas Court victory on illegal cylinder filling

Editorial Board Paddy Kelly, President, HAI Hugh O’Donnell, Vice President, HAI Alex Taylor, Hon Treasurer, HAI Paul Thompson. Director, HAI Jim Copeland, CEO, HAI Advertisement Managerr Joe Warren t: 01 288 5001 m: 086 253 7115 e: joe@thehardwarejournal.ie

Flogas Ireland Ltd has won two commercial High Court actions against Tru Gas Ltd, Patrick Morgan and separately Langan Fuels Ltd. The proceedings included claims by Flogas that Tru Gas of Castlebellingham, Co Louth was a leading “pirate filler”, and involved in a joint operation with Langan Fuels Ltd of Kilmacow, Waterford in unlawfully interfering with, and selling, Flogas LPG cylinders. The Court ordered Tru Gas Ltd and Patrick Morgan to pay €289,000, and Langan Fuels Ltd to pay €110,000 in damages to Flogas Ireland Ltd. Flogas was also awarded the legal costs of both cases and these are expected to be in excess of €670,000, plus VAT. Richard Martin, Managing Director of Flogas Ireland commented: “Flogas is very pleased that its property rights have been upheld by the Court and that the activities of the defendants in this case have The inaugural been heavily punished. It sends a powerful signal to the market National Retail Crime about the damaging aspects of illegal cylinder filling activity.” Conference will take place He went on to state that Flogas will continue to invest in its in Citywest on Wednesday, cylinder market in Ireland to support its dealers and consumers 16 October next. The with the very best cylinder products available. primary objective is to

National Retail Crime Conference

Origination and design Pressline Ltd t: 01 288 5001 Subscription One Year – €50

Award for Plumb Centre App Grafton Merchanting, the parent company of Chadwicks and Heiton Buckley Builders Merchants, has won a prestigious international technology award in London for its Plumb Centre mobile App. The newly-released App is available for both Android and iPhone users and is targeted at heating and plumbing installation and service engineers. It allows them to access real-time stock information on plumbing and heating parts in the Chadwicks, Heiton Buckley and Plumb Centre branch network. It also gives them access to gps location-based branch and special offer information and provides them with full online access to service and installation manuals. Commenting on the award Eddie Kelly, Managing Director of Grafton Merchanting, said: “The new Plumb Centre app has been developed to support the roll-out of our new Plumb Centre brand and we are delighted that it has been recognised for the quality of its innovation". The app can be downloaded from the Apple and Android app stores.

Official journal of

Published by The Hardware Journal Ltd Elmville Upper Kilmacud Road Dublin 14 t: 01 298 0969 e: jim@hardwareassociation.ie w: www.hardwareassociation.ie ISSN 2009-5481

© All editorial contents and all advertisements prepared by the publishers, The Hardware Journal Ltd.

2 THE HARDWARE JOURNAL

Right: Andrew Hewat, Commercial Support Manager, Grafton Merchanting RoI with Colm Scannell, Head of IT, Grafton Merchanting RoI; Gareth Naylor, Senior Product Portfolio Manager, E-On (who presented the award); Emmet Boylan, Business Development Manager Heating Spares, Grafton Merchanting RoI; and Linda White, Client Services Manager, Vodafone.

❙ September/October 2013

bring security experts and retailers together in a forum that educates, shares first-hand experiences, and promotes awareness and strategies to prevent, deter and detect crime in business. Speakers on the day will include expert professionals with firsthand experience in retail, supply chains and E-crime. Delegates will have access to top loss-prevention and security professionals in the industry. Contact: www.nrcc.ie


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Topline Murtaghs goes for growth Topline Murtaghs, the Ashbourne-based hardware and builders merchant outlet with a satellite operation in Sandymount, Co Dublin, is determined to buck the downward trend in sales. Traditionally an agri-based business with strong representation in building and hardware, it has totally reviewed its market position and changed the emphasis to lighter-end products. It is already reaping the benefits and plans are now afoot for further expansion. “We’re now looking to extend our Ashbourne facilities”, says fourth generation Colin Murtagh, “with a view to carrying additional stock in a cental location to service growth in Ashbourne and Sandymount, and future expansion plans. “There is no denying that this sector is a tough trading environment but, thanks to a review of our business model and lots of changes, we see inreased sales month on month. Simple things can be verys successful, such as our “Fiver Friday Day” once a month. Special €5 offers work very well, and also attract extra footfall through the outlets.” Topline Murtaghs also has an excellent web and social media presence with news updates, special offers and promotions featured on Facebook and YouTube. Looking to the immediate future, Colin plans a move back into Christmas-related products such as decorations, trees (real and articifial), animation, etc.

Forklift accidents prove costly The number of workplace accidents involving lifting equipment such as forklifts is on the rise, according to a new Injuries Board claim analysis. Last year 40 people received compensation totalling €1.3million for workplace accidents involving forklifts and cranes, compared to 34 workers in 2011. In contrast, the overall number of compensation awards for workplace accidents has decreased from 820 in 2011 to 807 last year. The average compensation award was €32,990 with claimants suffering fractured and broken bones and soft tissue injuries. The Injuries Board is highlighting this upward trend to caution employers and employees against complacency, especially where forklifts are concerned. Contact: www.injuriesboard.ie

Right: Stephen Watkins, Secretary, Injuries Board Ireland.

Tegral to invest €7.3m and create 30 jobs Tegral is to invest €7.3 million in its manufacturing plant in Athy, Co Kildare, which will result in the creation of 30 new jobs. €2.1 million will be spent immediately on new machinery, while the remaining €5.2 million will be invested in upgrading existing machinery and improvements in infrastructure over the next three years. Ten of the new jobs have already come on stream and the balance will be created in November. The investment follows a successful tender by Tegral to supply fibre cement roof slates for the UK market, following a competitive bid with other plants within the company’s global group, ETEX. The new contract covers ETEX’s full requirement for a range of fibre cement slates in the UK. Paddy Kelly, Managing Director, Tegral said: “This is a good day for Tegral and it’s pleasing to have some positive news for Athy after all the gloom of recent years. Our long-standing record of delivering high-quality products and good productivity, along with a reputable flexible workforce, stood the test. “This investment will also enable us to become a more efficient operation in preparation for the higher volumes expected in the coming years. There are already some signs of recovery in the Irish building market and whether the worst or best case scenarios are realised, we will be ideally positioned to manage the anticipated demand,” he added. Tegral produces a range of slate and metal products and has been in Athy for over 70 years. It is the largest employer in south County Kildare, currently employing 92 people, and it is a major contributor to the local economy. Contact: www.tegral.com

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Two appointments at Uppercross

Ken Crowther

Uppercross Enterprises Ltd, the Dublin-based plumbing, heating and sanitaryware distributor, has just announced two new appointments to its team. Ken Crowther has been appointed Procurement Manager with responsibility across all product ranges within both Uppercross and Niko Ireland. Ken is well known in the industry, having previously worked with Shires. Meanwhile, Aidan Lawlor has taken on the role of Sales Manager, Republic of Ireland, for Niko Ireland. Aidan previously held the position of Area Sales Manager for the company Niko Ireland distributes a wide range of ceramics, shower enclosures, brassware and bathroom furniture to the builders’ merchant and bathroom showroom sectors in Ireland Commenting on the two appointments, Roy Moore, Managing Director of Uppercross said: “ We are delighted to welcome Ken to Uppercross. He brings a huge amount of industry experience with him and will be a welcome addition to the team.” He added: “Aidan was already a key member of the Niko Ireland sales force and I look forward to him taking over total responsibility for sales revenues and brand development for the company in Ireland”. Contact: Uppercross Enterprises. Tel: 01– 400 0000; e-mail: sales@uel.ie See www.uel.iw

Aidan Lawlor

Do Your Shelf A Favour by stocking the Rustins’ range

EXCELLENCE LTD. SOLE DISTRIBUTORS OF RUSTINS PRODUCTS Unit 43, Baldoyle Industrial Estate, Dublin 13. Tel: 018323300 Fax: 018323584 email: pnicholson@excellence.ie mreilly@excellence.ie www.excellence.ie THE HARDWARE JOURNAL

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PH Ross benefits from high-end switch In what many might regard as a bold move, Dublin-based PH Ross recently re-vitalised its product portfolio with medium to high-end ranges and refurbished its showrooms to better project the new offering. In addition to working closely with existing suppliers, the company also sourced some new lines to present a high-end collection of top-quality, but reasonably-priced, products. “This was a major investment for us at a time Teresa Austin, newly appointed PH when the marketplace is uncertain”, said Ger Fahy, Ross Showroom Manager PH Ross General Manager, “but so far it has paid dividends. Appointing a dedicated Showroom Manager in the person of Teresa Austin was crucial to the success of the exercise.

“Thanks to Teresa’s drive and committment, and the three-month promotion campaign from June through to August, traffic flow through the showroom is significantly up. In fact, we’ve had to extend Saturday opening hours from just mornings to a full day (9am to 5pm).” The quality and level of the customer support services has also been augmented. PH Ross has a predominently trade business and contractors are now directing/ accompanying their clients into the showrooms to view the fixtures and fittings in-situ. PH Ross personnel are permanently on hand to advise and help with decisionmaking, and then to provide detailed 3D designs so the customer sees exactly what the finished installation will look like. “For us this investment defininely paid off”, says Ger Fahy. “We’re attracting a different client base, and also see a pattern of word-of-mouth referrals developing.”

Hycraft draught excluders Dublin-based Hycraft, manufacturers of draught proofing, carpet grips, waste pipes and stair nosing, has introduced two new draught excluders. Available in Hycraft 2.1m and Hycraft 2.5m lengths in brown and white UV stabilised PVC, they are priced to sell out of the shops at €5 a length. They come with screws and a self-adhesive bottom-of-door brush strip that can be easily cut, and is available in brown and white for less than €5 out of the shop. Hycraft is actively looking for agents in the West and Northern Ireland. email: hycraft@eircom.net 6 THE HARDWARE JOURNAL

❙ September/October 2013

www.tec7.ie – more than just a website! Contech Building Products’ new dedicated tec7 website – www.tec7.ie – is not just a product website but rather an encyclopedia of information relating to sealants, adhesives, cleaners, expanding foam, penetrating oils and fillers. It contains a vast reservoir of information covering the entire tec7 range that includes product features and benefits, along with highlydetailed but simple-to-follow “How To” articles on everything from sealing a bath to repairing a gutter. There are also product demonstration videos on many of the products, along with testimonials from satisfied end-users that endorse and reinforce the vast range of products within the portfolio. The bonus for business users and end-users alike is the clever design of the site. Far too often websites that may indeed contain a wealth of information fall down on ease of navigation and so the visitor gives up in frustration. The design of the tec7 site overcomes this problem and is such that it actually draws you in. On entering to search for something in particular, it is like a shopfloor display … you invariably click in to something else as well.

Clever use of “key word optimisation” means that search queries on virtually any topic deliver an immediate result and lead the user not just to the appropriate product, but to articles, helpful hints and guides related to its use and application. Complementing all of this is the Stocklist link. End-users can log on to the full range of stockists throughout the country. These are listed by way of hyper-linked logos so individuals can locate the outlet closest to them at the click of a mouse. See for yourself. Log on to www.tec7.ie


DIstributor: Contech Building Products. Unit F12, Maynooth Business Campus, Maynooth, Co Kildare Ph: +353 1 629 2963, Email: info@contechbuildings.ie

Very effective on rubber residues, dirt, grease, nicotine, pencil marks etc.

Safe to use on a wide range of materials such as mirrors, windows, doors, furniture, imitation leather, hard synthetics, stainless steel, enamel, plastic, formica tiles, carpeting etc. (Always test on sensitive surfaces before use)

Visible action by foam format

Contains no abrasives

11:36

Cleans and degreases without leaving traces

09/09/2013

Universal, all-purpose, fast-acting cleaner for household and professional use

Contech Adv Oct 2013:Layout 1 Page 1


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News PRODUCTS

Doggy tails and hot weather Speciality paints from Rustins While the mid-Summer temperature surge gave a welcome boost to sales, retailers learned some new and unexpected uses for standard products. Take for instance J Donohoe Providers in Ennniscotry. They had a husband and wife in buying a few bits when the wife saw a fan on display and purchased one for herself. The husband then asked if the store had many more in stock and, on being told yes, he said he’d take a batch of them. Seeing the bemused look on his wife’s face he nonchalantly said: “I’m not buying them for you, sure you have one already … it’s for the greyhounds, they are dying in this heat!” Meanwhile Expert Hardware in Kimmage had another “doggie” tail (sic). For more that three years Peter Doyle and his colleagues were sitting on a stock of plastic tubs (measuring 30” round by 10” high) that they simply could not shift. This was not surprising as they are generally used for getting rid of builders’ rubbish. Anyway, thanks to the hot weather, they got a call for paddling pools from a local dog kennel who needed to keep the animals in their care cool. Being all out of paddling pools Peter said that the best he could do was the plastic tubs. Within the hour all 18 had been paid for and collected.

Rustins have made two new additions to their range of speciality paints – Galvanized Metal Primer and One Coat Damp Seal. Rustins Galvanized Metal Primer is a water-based, quick-drying, lowodour metal primer that is suitable for interior and exterior use. Containing anti-corrosion additives, it is ideal for use on bare and galvanized metal. Touch-dry in 30 minutes, it can be re-coated in two hours. Rustins One Coat Damp Seal is a fast-drying, high-performance interior paint which permanently covers damp, water stains and most household stains. It dries with a long-lasting permanent seal over damp walls and ceilings. For interior use only, it can be applied to damp surfaces and re-coated in two hours. Both new additions are available in sizes: 250ml, 500ml and 1ltr. See www.excellence.ie

Fleetwood helps with the restoration of The Asgard The National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks – where the gun-running yacht, the Asgard is being housed – has teamed up with Fleetwood Paints to better present this unique piece of Irish history. “When contacted by the museum and asked if Fleetwood would be interested in sponsoring the paint for the outside of the building”, says Steve McQuillan of Fleetwood, “we were happy to oblige and supplied sufficient Weatherclad exterior masonry paint to complete the project”. The Asgard is one of the most iconic items of recent Irish history. She was built in 1905 by Colin Archer, the great Norwegian naval architect, played a pivotal role in the 1914 Howth gun-running saga, and was later used as Ireland’s first sail-training vessel. From 2007 – 2012 a major programme of conservation of the Asgard was undertaken at Collins Barracks. The conservation team was charged with saving and securing as much of the existing original material as possible, while also retaining the structural integrity of the vessel. When the project was completed a dedicated exhibition was opened by Jimmy Deenihan, TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, at Collins Barracks, who thanked Fleetwood for its sponsorship. It is expected that the Asgard will be visited by over 300,000 visitors a year.

8 THE HARDWARE JOURNAL

❙ September/October 2013


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IRELAND’S PREMIER TOOL DISTRIBUTOR

LETS TALK TURKEY

WITH TUCKS O’BRIEN

Contact

www.tucksobrien.ie sales@tucksobrien.ie 01 467 7000

Promo 2013 Xmas 09-09-2013 - 31-12-2013

O U

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Waterdford Stanley GAA extravaganza Waterford Stanley’s annual trade show was a GAA-themed occasion this year with Croke Park as the prestigious venue and a host of GAA personalities attending and mingling with the guests. As always, there was a unique business/social mix. The product displays, especially of new lines, were very well presented with John Stack and his team on hand to answer technical questions. Owen Power and his team dealt with queries on marketing, sales promotions and related issues.

Mick Monahan, Chadwicks Naas with Justin Sheehan, Grafton Group; Owen Power, Waterford Stanley; Dermot Earley, Kildare GAA; Eileen Dowling, Chadwicks Naas; Andrew Flynn, Waterford Stanley; and Gerry Fitzsimmons and Eamonn McHugh Grafton Group.

Pat Spillane, Kerry GAA with Seamus Reynolds, Dairygold Ardagh; Sean Óg O’Halpin, Cork GAA; Michael Stack, Waterford Stanley and Dessie Dolan, Westmeath GAA.

Paul O’Shea, MD O’Sheas & Sons with Owen Power, Waterford Stanley; Sean Óg O’Halpin, Cork GAA; and John O’Shea and Conor Falvey, MD O’Sheas & Sons.

10 THE HARDWARE JOURNAL

❙ September/October 2013

Brian Cody, Kilkenny GAA with Michael Ganly, Michael Ganly Hardware and Mickey Harte, Tyrone GAA.

The event was a great success with most of the company’s hardware retailers from all over Ireland (north and south) attending, together with retailers from as far afield as Australia and Japan. GAA stars from all over the country attended, including Brian Cody, Mickey Harte, Sean Óg O’Halpin, Pat Spillane, Dermot Earley and Dessie Dolan to name but a few. They happily mingled with guests, regaled them with stories and

anecdotes, and posed for photographs. A total attendance of 160 sat down for the meal with at least one GAA personality seated at each table. Principal speeches were from Owen Power, Waterford Stanley Commercial Director and William McGrath, CEO, AGA Rangemaster. These were business-like and very informative, but also succinct and to the point. Entertainment was by special guest Risteard Cooper.


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THE

Recoup energy with Highway Wholesalers

sixty second interview

Waste water heat recovery systems attached to showers are a proven and cost-effective way of achieving significant energy savings and Highway Wholesalers has now added the Recoup system to its portfolio. The company offers a choice of three Recoup waste water heat recovery systems to accommodate any application, from newbuild houses and apartments, to commercial applications and retrofit projects. All of the Recoup product range and three installation variations are SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) 2009 Appendix Q listed in the UK, so can be “modelled� at any time. This is very significant as SEAI allows SAP methodology/ratings to be used in DEAP (Dwellings Energy Assessment Procedure) in assessing the BER (Building Energy Rating) for Irish homes. Last year Highway Wholesalers shifted its focus to concentrate more on eco-friendly energy efficient household and commercial plumbing appliances. It began with the introduction of Pulse Eco Showers, followed by AquabionŽ environment-friendly water treatment for limescale, and now continues now with the Recoup Energy Solutions. Contact: Barry Fleming, Managing Director, Highway Wholesalers. Tel: 051 – 872615; email: b.fleming@hwl.ie

MICHAEL P. DOYLE Are you an optimist? Yes

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TradeLocks new online look UAP TradeLocks has launched a new and improved version of its website which is designed to make purchasing tools much easier. To celebrate the launch the company has reduced the price of several locksmith tools and accessories.

Business leader you most admire? Michael O’Leary Biggest lesson learned in business? A shut mouth catches no flies Best business book you've read? How to Win Friends & Influence People Advice to entrepreneurs starting out? Work hard and believe in yourself What single thing helped you most? Networking What type of phone do you have? Apple iPhone 4s Your most used phone app? Pocket Informant Tablet or laptop? Tablet Favourite pastime? Light reading Favourite movie? Shane Favourite part of the world (other than Ireland)? Mallorca Greatest regret? Smoking – total energy sapper, gave up five years ago

The updated site has a new cleaner look, is much more userfriendly and offers customers new lower prices on all domestic, auto and safe locksmith tools. TradeLocks has also improved its loyalty reward scheme to give customers more points with their orders. Users of the site will have access to the TradeLocks Forum where they can seek advice from fellow locksmiths, tool Instructions, brochures, technical specifications, accreditation certificates and marketing support. See www.TradeLocks.co.uk

THE HARDWARE JOURNAL

â?™ September/October 2013 11


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HAI HAI CLIPBOARD CLIPBOARD

Jim Copeland, HAI Chief Executive. Tel: 01 – 298 0969; email: jim@hardwareassociation.ie

As part of Hardware Association Ireland’s on-going programme of two-way communication with members, we have decided to include a report from my visits to various members in the regions. These are generally issues that come up that are causing problems or concerns to members, and hopefully some innovative ideas and trends that members are having success with in their daily trading. The key issues to emerge this month are reported here.

Sick pay proposal simply an extra tax Having undertaken several visits in the South East, the issue of sick pay was raised. Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, has spoken in the recent past about the feasibility of introducing a statutory scheme which would require employers to contribute to sick pay costs during Minister illness. Her suggestion that such for Social Protection, a move would incentivise Irish Joan Burton TD employers to reduce this absenteeism and would bring Ireland’s sick pay arrangement into

Merchant to merchant Several merchants mentioned the idea of having contact with their colleagues around the country. In particular the Association has always had an informal scheme where sons and daughters, or other family members of merchants, could go on a workplacement with other merchants throughout the country. This merchant to merchant scheme was a great success in the past, and Hardware Association Ireland would now like to reintroduce it as a major membership benefit for those within the Association to have their family members or colleagues on work placement in a fellow members outlet for a period of between three and six months. Merchants are encouraged to register family members with Hardware Association Ireland if they are interested in participating, or if they have an opening in their own business.

line with other international competitor, is very much disagreed with by Hardware Association Ireland and its members. HAI has impressed, and will continue to impress upon Government that they should take into account the already high costs of employing people in Ireland and that private sector employers, including our members, have tackled absenteeism. They have invested significantly in reducing absenteeism rates and compare very favourably with those within the public service. This proposal will negatively impact all employers, and those particularly in our sector, and will only result in employers cutting back on existing occupational sick pay schemes, resulting in fewer benefits for employees. HAI argues that any move to increase labour costs will seriously damage the competitiveness we have regained in recent years as employers, and will make it difficult for us to compete, particularly with our neighbours in Northern Ireland and the UK. We will continue to impress upon Government that this is simply an extra tax on employment at a time when jobs should be a priority.

Information sharing The sharing and benchmarking of information was also an idea promoted by members in the South East. The point being made was that, without having figures on which to base your performance, it was very difficult to benchmark where you were in relation to all other merchants throughout the country. Hardware Association Ireland is working on such a programme to follow up on its recent member’s survey conducted independently by Behaviour & Attitudes covered in this publication also (page 14).

Jim Copeland, Chief Executive and Director, HAI 12 THE HARDWARE JOURNAL

❙ September/October 2013


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HAI HAI CLIPBOARD CLIPBOARD Town and village regeneration Another area causing concern to members in the South East is town and village regeneration. Hardware Association Ireland will insist that Government develop a coherent strategy for our towns and villages, including addressing vacancy rates, retail assortment and consumer footfall. HAI calls for the Government to urgently address training, education and/or hiring of local government officials to run town and city centres as shopping centres are currently managed. Retailers are trying to deal with untenable and excessive business red tape, including rent and rates costs, maintain employment levels, and are struggling to survive. However, local authorities must play their part in reforming services being delivered to local businesses. HAI calls for an all town/city holistic approach to be taken by all key stakeholders to manage and represent villages, towns and cities. If a retailer or investor wants to open a business in a town or village, there should be a level of information available including current rent levels, vacancies, adjacencies, footfall figures, spending patterns and demographics, all of which are available to new entrants to town centres. Local authorities should also be permitted to implement rate incentives to encourage investment and greater occupancy by categories of retailers not already in the area, without increasing the cost for any other retailer already in existence. Parking incentives should also be offered to customers, including a time-bound free parking period to encourage people back into the centre of the villages, towns and cities.

Bank Charges The area of bank charges and lodgements costs for coin was also a concern. There seems to be little competition from the pillar banks in this regard and HAI will work with all stakeholders to identify best practice in this regard and make the information available to members.

Training In response to on-going member enquiries from around the country, Hardware Association Ireland has also launched three online retail training courses, subsidised by Skillnets and accredited by City & Guilds. The courses which are all available for immediate enrolment are: • Understanding the retail selling process; • Understanding visual merchandising for a retail business; • Understanding customer service in the retail sector. The training is delivered using a blended delivery method of e-learning and tutor-led workshops. Students will typically attend a half day induction session and end with a half day examination at a City & Guilds accredited centre. In between they learn via the internet on the three programmes as outlined, at their own pace, and at a time that suits their needs.

Taking care of business

OK

IC

O

ON

CL

September/October 2013

OP

As part of its remit as a member of the High Level Group on Business Regulation within the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Hardware Association Ireland is taking part in the inaugural free one-stop-shop event for SMEs, called “Taking Care of Business” (www.takingcareofbusiness.ie). TO P – S This innovative day will take place on Tuesday, 22 October 2013 in the Printworks Conference Centre in Dublin –S H E Castle. It will be a half-day event intended for those who own or manage a small business, or are thinking of starting a new business. A range of State offices and agencies will give short presentations and answer questions about key regulations K B HE RE TO and assistance available to businesses. Areas covered will include tax, employment and Health & Safety; legal requirements for setting up and running a business; supports from enterprise agencies and local authorities. The event will be opened by Senator Feargal Quinn, who will also chair the first set of presentations. Information stands will be open throughout, allowing participants to speak informally with staff from each of the bodies attending. Registration in advance is advisable. Simply log on to www.takingcareofbusiness.ie, or phone 01- 817 1310. Alternatively contact Jim Copeland at Hardware Association Ireland on 01 - 298 0969, or info@hardwareassociation.ie

❙ THE HARDWARE JOURNAL 13


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HAI member’s survey, July 2013

Survey results reinforce need for strong industry body The findings of a comprehensive nationwide industry study carried out on behalf of Hardware Association Ireland (HAI) has further reinforced the need for a strong, unified industry representative body. The purpose of the study was to compile an accurate, factbased picture of the hardware sector in Ireland, and to identify the areas of most concern to members. “We left nothing to chance with this exercise”, says Paddy Kelly, President, HAI, “and so commissioned leading professionals Behaviour & Attitudes to conduct the survey. While the results emphatically confirmed the many challenges facing the hardware sector, it pinpointed a significant number of areas that we can, and must, address as a matter of urgency. “Economic growth driven by initiatives aimed at encouraging consumer spending is obviously a priority, along with urgent and imminent investment in the form of a targeted stimulus package to help revitalise a depressed construction sector. HAI has made representation to Government on these matters already but will now, in its forthcoming budget submission and into the future, impress on Government the urgent and critical need for immediate action. “HAI will also become increasingly vocal in calling for increased lending to SMEs, and will insist that the Government more aggressively promotes other state-

14 THE HARDWARE JOURNAL

sponsored programmes aimed at adding liquidity to the economy. To maximise this effort we regularly liaise with, and work in collaboration with, other representative bodies on behalf of members so that the plight of the hardware sector is best represented at all levels. “The findings of the report will help us formulate new strategies going forward, and give us a platform of irrefutable evidence-based information that cannot be disputed or challenged by Government or other parties. We will use this information to better present the case for the hardware sector, and to help secure policy change and initiatives that will safeguard our collective futures”.

Paddy Kelly, President, Hardware Association Ireland

HAI calls for economic growth driven by targeted initiatives aimed at encouraging consumer spending in the form of a strategic stimulus package to help revitalise the depressed construction sector

Key issues and priorities • • • • • •

Keeping sales/business coming in (83%) Keeping costs to a minimum (80%) Increasing the level of disposable income among shoppers (73%) Ensuring sufficient working capital/cashflow (58%) Maintaining adequate stock levels (51%) Current level of economic growth in Ireland (51%)

❙ September/October 2013


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HAI member’s survey, July 2013 What follows here is a synopsis of the survey findings in text format, accompanied by very detailed schematics. Together they give a comprehensive overview of the hardware sector in Ireland, reflecting both trading results for the last 12 months, and the outlook for the coming 12 months. Where possible and relevant, the schematics include comparisons from the B&A Business Confidence Monitor. This is conducted on a quarterly basis among a sample of 350 business owners/managers countrywide, across all industries. Consequently, it is a good measure of how hardware is performing in relation to other business sectors. The last 12 months clearly presented considerable challenges for HAI members. Eight out of ten hardware merchants throughout the country are pessimistic about their future and are operating in survival mode. The survey reveals that the lack of disposable income among shoppers has been a critical concern with 73% believing that a boost in consumer spend is required. Maintaining sales (83%) and implementing tight cost management controls (80%) are the two top critical challenges facing the sector. The customer base of hardware retailers has shifted from larger commercial sales transactions to individuals with cash and credit cards. Female customers, in particular, have grown in importance as members recognise that women are making the purchasing decisions when it comes to home improvements. Along with female customers (66%),

Table A – Profile of businesses surveyed Location of Business

%

No. of Employees

%

Dublin

17

1-3 employees

12

Rest of Leinster

34

4-9 employees

27

Munster

27

10-19 employees

41

Connaught/Ulster

22

20-49 employees

16

50+ employees

Survey was conducted June 2013 h

h

d

d

4

2

Business Performance in Past 12 Months Base: All member firms N-169

Higher Overall business activity HAI Members

B&A Business Barometer

37

29

62

17

68

15

24

54

22

41

28

27

B&A Business Barometer

B&A Business Barometer

% 48 25

9

Business Profitability HAI Members

Prices charged HAI Members

Lower

% 25 36

B&A Business Barometer

No. of staff employed HAI Members

The Same

% 27

36

48

16

26

62

10

Overall HAI member activity with general business barometer comparison. Staff Remuneration Past 12 Months Base: All member firms N-169 A total salary freeze

Staff leaving and not being replaced

A salary cut for all staff

A percentage salary cut

Suspension of performance related bonus or profit share %

%

%

%

%

12

11

10

66

64

63

23

22

24

27

+15

+54

+53

+53

31 Yes

59

46 No

22

Refused / Don’t know

19

Balance:

-37

The clear majority of firms are operating a salary freeze and a smaller but significant minority implemented one or more other reductions to salary levels.

cash (84%) and credit cards (74%) have grown in importance over the past 12 months. Trade credit and cheque customers show signs of decline in terms of relative importance at 18% and 17% respectively. The survey also revealed that one in five hardware retailers applied to lending

institutions for funding over the last 12 months of which 75% were successful. Short-term finance dominated the rationale for applications with funding for working capital (40%), short-term loan (34%) and overdraft (34%) topping the list. Otherwise, hard-pressed businesses are

THE HARDWARE JOURNAL

❙ September/October 2013 15


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HAI member’s survey, July 2013 their counterparts in Dublin and the rest of Leinster. In the past 12 months, business activity of retail members surveyed in Connacht was 8% lower. In Ulster, hardware stores in Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan also reported an 8% lower business activity result, while business activity in hardware stores in

taking a more pragmatic approach, opting for measures such as salary freezes (59%), maintaining prices at past levels or lowering them (84%), and not replacing staff after they have left (46%). On a regional basis, overall business activity in hardware retailers in Munster and Connacht/Ulster is 12% lower than

Munster was 15% lower than their colleagues in Dublin and the rest of Leinster.

Looking to next 12 months Over the next 12 months almost one in three members forecast higher business activity and profitability. However, firms mainly consider prospects as much the same as the previous 12 months – very

Bank Funding – Past 12 months Bank Funding – Past 12 months Base: All member firms N-169

challenging. Dublin and Leinster firms are

Base: All member firms N-169

% Yes, a formal application Yes, an informal application

most optimistic about overall business

Reasons for Applying (Base: 35)

Applied Past 12 months

%

15

40

Working capital funding

activity, but otherwise there is little regional difference in the forecasts. When participants were asked to take

6 Short term loan (less than 5 years)

34

Overdraft

34

everything into account in their forecasts for the next 12 months, responses become decidedly pessimistic, both for the general

No

business environment and their own

17

Long term loan (more than 5 years)

79

business. Pessimism for next 12 months is

14

Re-financing existing loans

consistent across the sector, but least Leasing

positive among larger firms and those

3

Despite frequent business contraction, only one in five firms applied for funding. Short term finance dominates rationale for application. 75% of firms who applied for funding were successful (16% of all member firms).

outside Leinster. Members feel that retaining the focus on sales and tight cost management are the critical issues, as well as an assumption

portance of Customer Type - Past 12 Months Importance of Customer Type - Past 12 Months e: All member firms N-169 Base: All member firms N-169

that a rise in disposable income will benefit all. Similarity of key issues is very consistent across firm size and location.

Location of Business

No. Employees

Overall, members continue to operate in

Total

1 to 9

10 to 19

20+

Dublin/ Rest of Leinster

Other ROI

169

66

70

32

84

84

%

%

%

%

%

%

Cash Customers

84

80

89

81

81

87

salary freezes, etc) and firms are

Credit Card

73

61

84

75

65

81

responding pragmatically to the

Female Customers

66

62

73

59

65

67

environment:

Online Customers

22

20

16

41

20

24

Credit Customers

18

20

13

25

19

17

the next 12 months and the principal hope

Cheque

17

14

17

22

12

21

is that a rise in consumer disposable

Base: Are more important…

a very tough environment. There are some slight indications of stabilisation over the past 12 months (maintaining staff levels,

Members are far from optimistic about

income will lead to an increase in Growing importance of cash, credit card and female customers very consistent across the industry, albeit peaking among medium-sized firms. 16 THE HARDWARE JOURNAL

❙ September/October 2013

general business activity.


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HAI member’s survey, July 2013 Business Performance in Next 12 Months

in Next 12 Months Base:Business All memberPerformance firms N-169

Prospects for next 12 months ospects next 12 months Base: for All member firms N-169 e: All member firms N-169

Business Environment Business Environment Prospects

HAI Members Very positive 9 – 10 7–8

1–6

%

2

Base: All member firms N-169 Your Own Busine Your Own Business Prospects

B&A Business Confidence Monitor %

HAI Members

5

5

31

28

63

67

%

Overall business activity

Will be Higher

Will be the Same

Will be Lower

%

%

%

30

46

24

18 No. of staff employed

Business Profitability

7

78

30

15

42

28

80

Prices charged

25

60

15

Very concerned Average:

5.0

5.5

5.6

When asked to take everything into account in their forecasts for the next 12 months, firms become decidedly pessimistic, both for the general business environment and their own business.

About one in three members forecast higher business activity and profitability for the next 12 months. On balance, overall, firms consider prospects as much the same as previous 12 months – in other words, very challenging.

Key Business Issues y Business Issuesfirms N-169 Base: All member e: All member firms N-169

r Tier 1: Critical 1: Critical

That you keep sales / business coming in Keeping costs to a minimum Level of disposable income among shoppers

Tier 2

Ensuring you have sufficient working capital / cash flow Maintaining stock levels Current level of economic growth in Ireland

Tier 3

Staff morale / Recruitment / Retention / Shortage Pilferage Taxation / VAT Access to broadband Training / Continuing professional development for staff

Tier 4

Growth of online shopping Health and safety legislations Succession planning (development of internal staff to fill key positions) Availability of industry statistics and benchmarks Upgrading IT Employment law Cost of rent (including issue of upward only rent reviews) Cross Border Issues Implementing reduced hours and/or redundancies for certain staff

THE HARDWARE JOURNAL

❙ September/October 2013 17


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HAI takes lead on carbon tax implications When it comes to the hardware sector the critical two fuel elements in respect of retail sales are LPG (and of course related appliances), and solid fuel. The imposition of the carbon tax levy in May of this year, plus the additional increase scheduled for May of next year, has caused considerable concern and confusion but, before addressing that, we’ll look at the LPG sector. hile the general economic downturn affects all industry sectors in Ireland, ironically LPG sales could benefit over the coming heating season as a consequence of that. Rising home heating oil and natural gas costs – coupled with diminishing incomes – has led to a marked change in how people heat their homes. Householders are now far more reluctant to heat the entire home, preferring instead to heat rooms in use. They are also more likely to suffer lower temperatures within the home, opting to give periodic boosts as and when the temperature drops below an unacceptable level. If the nation’s homes all had modern, zone-controlled heating systems with localised thermostats in every room then running the full central heating system would be viable. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Consequently, LPG-fired heaters offer an ideal alternative and the added bonus of being mobile, thus easily moved from room to room as the occupancy pattern within the home changes throughout the day. Additionally, the LPG sector goes into the heating season on the back of a recent increase in sales thanks to the good summer. LPGfired BBQs were probably used more throughout this summer than

W

Just what is the Carbon Fuel Tax? Solid Fuel Carbon Tax (SFCT) is a new excise tax applicable from the 1 May last on all solid fuel supplied in the Irish marketplace. It is charged at the rate of €26.33 + VAT per tonne of emissions from coal (this rate is applicable to coal, anthracite, smokeless mixes, ovoids and lignite), and on peat products at the rate of €18.33 + VAT per tonne emissions from briquettes, and €13.62 per tonne of emissions from sod peat. There are no exceptions or minimum tonnage criteria – the first supplier of any quantity must charge the tax and make a return. It doesn’t matter whether the first supplier is an importer, bagger, wholesaler, merchant or retailer, the requirement to register is the same. The first seller of the solid fuel in the state must register and make returns.

18 THE HARDWARE JOURNAL

❙ September/October 2013


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Carbon Fuel Feature:Layout 1

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13:24

perhaps the combined usage of say the last two/three summers. Sales for 2013 have reflected this pattern and, as we progress into the heating season, will undoubtedly continue to do so. Solid fuel However, the situation relating to solid fuel is far more challenging. At a time when retailers should be looking forward with optimism to the coming heating season, they are weighed down by the prospect of customers baulking at the marked increase in the retail price of coal and briquettes. Increased worldwide demand – and also closer to home in the UK – has created shortages, especially of premium grade coals, that in turn has impacted on the baseline cost of coal at source. This, coupled with the carbon tax increase, has inevitably impacted at retail price levels. Suppliers, for the most part, have done their best to absorb some of the procurement cost increases and have also been more inventive in where they source their supplies. They have also been more creative in the composition and type of product mixes they supply, seeking to provide quality and value at an affordable price. That said, the impact of carbon tax on solid fuel retail prices is still significant, especially in the context of how pressed consumers are financially. Suppliers and retailers alike are now

Page 2

Table A. SEAI Domestic Fuels: Comparison of Energy Costs Fuel

Form

Unit of Supply

Average Gross Delivered Percentage Percentage Price per Calorific Energy Cost change since change since Unit (€)1 Value cent/kWh 1 April, 2013 1 July, 2012 (kWh/unit)

PEAT2

Briquettes, Baled

Bale

4.30

67.0

6.42

+10%

+10.3%

COAL

Nuggets (Lignite) Premium Coal3 Standard Coal3 Standard Anthracite4 Grade A Anthracite4 Ovoids (Smokeless)4

Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne

355.00 395.00 380.00 465.00 505.00 440.00

5763.5 8267.2 7900.0 8735.2 8960.0 8850.0

6.16 4.78 4.81 5.32 5.64 4.97

+9% +8% +9% +7% +6% +7%

+9.2% +8.2% +8.6% +6.9% +6.3% +7.3%

L.P.G.

Bulk L.P.G.5 Bottled Butane Bottled Propane Bottled Propane

Litre 11.35 kg Cylinder 34 kg Cylinder 47 kg Cylinder

0.95 33.38 90.50 123.29

7.09 155.7 471.0 651.0

13.41 21.44 19.21 18.94

-0.6% – – –

+8.4% – – –

0.24 0.32 0.39

4.8 4.8 4.8

5.10 6.69 8.06

+0.6% -1.2% +2.1%

+1.6% +1.1% +1.7%

WOOD6 Pellets Bulk Delivery7 kg Pellets Bagged kg Briquettes kg

Notes 1. All prices are inclusive of 13.5% VAT. 2. Estimated average price to consumers countrywide. 3. Average price delivered in Munster area. 4. Prices include delivery in Dublin area only. 5. Price per unit does not include standing charge. Average L.P.G. standing charge: €18.60 every 2 months (incl. tank rental and maintenance). 6. Wood fuel prices may vary from the average, given the fragmented supplier network at present. 7. Minimum delivery conditions may apply. Discounts may apply for larger quantities.

HAI feels that the introduction of the tax goes against previous sensible Government policy, which deferred the tax on solid fuels

faced with the challenge of how to deal with these increases. There is no escaping the carbon tax increase as this has to be

SFCT is charged on peat products at the rate of €18.33 + VAT per tonne emissions from briquettes, and €13.62 per tonne of emissions from sod peat.

20 THE HARDWARE JOURNAL

01 July, 2013

❙ September/October 2013

levied, collected and returned to Revenue. Unfortunately, with the cost of the raw material also increasing across the board – be it coal or peat-based products – there is little room for leeway. Margins are severely squeezed at all stages in the supply chain so it is inevitable that consumers will be faced with a price hike. (See also Table A, SEAI bulletin as of 1 July 2013 – Domestic Fuels: Comparison of Energy Costs). Just how they react remains to be seen over the coming weeks and months but the likelihood is that it will have a detrimental affect on sales.


HAI Web Advert:Layout 1

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The Hardware Journal …

… just a click does the trick

ie

l. a n r u o j are w d r a h e www.th

In addition to the printed edition, The Hardware

Journal is also available electronically. It can be accessed in page-turner format for on-screen persual, or as a pdf which can be printed out in full, or part, depending on the particular article(s) you are interested in.

DECEMBER 2012

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Hardware JOURNAL

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The Hardware Journal is the official publication of Hardware Association Ireland. The printed edition is mailed directly, and personally addressed, to all HAI members, in addition to senior purchasing managers, and owner managers, across the entire industry. If you are involved in the sector and wish to receive your own personal copy, email your full details to pat@thehardwarejournal.ie

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HAI HAI CLIPBOARD CLIPBOARD Smart Cards for Fuel Allowance Scheme Hardware Association Ireland (HAI) has written to the Government to say that the exchequer could recover an estimated €9.25 million in VAT and business taxes if the Department of Social Protection made better use of available technology to pay the Winter fuel allowance to individuals and families. HAI suggests that the Government should introduce an officially-endorsed fuel voucher system where recipients would have to use dedicated fuel vouchers or smart cards to purchase fuel products from registered retail fuel outlets. This would allow the Government to recoup some of its expenditure on Winter Fuel Allowance through legitimate retail outlet tax returns. “We have concerns that, as

the allowance is currently paid in cash and used to purchase fuel from any source of supply, there is no traceability or recovery for the State.” says Jim Copeland, HAI Chief Executive. There is sufficient competition among legitimate retail outlets to ensure that recipients of the allowance have a wide choice of suppliers. It would also be a more efficient way to reduce the damage the shadow-economy or black market traders are causing to legitimate businesses in every sector. With the increased cost of fuel hitting householders hard, HAI has also urged the Government against a further carbon tax on solid fuel in the forthcoming budget. “Not only will such a tax add undue pressure for many thousands of households, it will result in lost revenue to Government and as many as 1200 jobs because of the growing unregulated market in solid fuel”, says Jim Copeland.

Recast Prompt Payment Directive welcomed HAI welcomes the thrust and objectives of the recast Prompt Payment Directive 2011/7/EU of the European Parliament due to be introduced into Irish legislation in March 2013. However, HAI insists that the problem is not with the legislation, but with its enforcement and the fact that the number of companies that charge penalty interest to their business partners is reportedly very low. HAI contends that late payments are disastrous for Irish business, and have been made financially attractive to debtors in Ireland by low or no-interest rates being charged on late payments and/or slow procedures for redress. In a submission to the recent consultation on the EU Directive, HAI said that there needs to be a decisive shift to a culture of prompt payment, including one in which the exclusion of the right to charge interest should always be considered to be a grossly unfair contractual term or practice. Such a shift should also include the introduction of specific provisions on payment periods, and on the compensation of creditors for the costs incurred. The exclusion of the right to compensation for recovery costs should also be presumed to be grossly unfair. Accordingly, provision should be made for business-to-business contractual payment periods to be limited, as a general rule, to 60 calendar days. HAI is ready to contribute to any initiative that will substantially address the area of prompt payments. The adoption of this Directive into Irish legislation would be a positive outcome to this consultation.

HAI opposes statutory sick pay scheme HAI says that the introduction of a statutory sick pay scheme in Budget 2013 would have hugelydamaging consequences for employment and growth next year. In a recent IBEC survey, almost half of the respondents with an occupational sick pay scheme said such a move would affect their company's ability to recruit new employees. A similar number said it would affect their ability to retain existing staff and a majority said it would affect the sustainability of their business in Ireland. In addition, companies would be forced to change the existing benefits offered to their employees. HAI believes that employers would revise and reduce existing sick pay and benefit entitlement to staff. This shifting of costs onto employers is an extra tax on employment at a time when employment should be the priority. This proposed measure will increase labour costs, reduce the opportunity for companies to create and maintain jobs, and damage our competitiveness. Government should be finding ways to reduce costs so employers can create jobs and stimulate economic growth The OECD says that an increase in taxes on labour of 1pc reduces an economy's employment rate by about 0.4%. Based on this, any Government's proposal for an extra tax on jobs through a statutory sick pay scheme could cost at least 3,500 jobs, both directly and indirectly.

Jim Copeland, Chief Executive and Director, HAI 44 THE HARDWARE JOURNAL

S December 2012/January 2013

w w w. t h e h a rdwa re j o u r n a l . i e


Carbon Fuel Feature:Layout 1

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Jobs at risk The view of HAI is that the hardware industry in the Republic of Ireland could lose jobs as a result of the introduction of the carbon tax on solid fuels. At a time when the sector is already experiencing a very challenging retail environment, the seasonal importance of solid fuel has the ability to further seriously damage businesses in the sector. Having accepted that the tax is now reality – despite being vehemently opposed to its introduction – HAI has petitioned for the tax to be enforced and applied to all equally to counter the shadow/black economy. Rather than generate additional income for the Exchequer, HAI believes the move will result in a decrease in employment taxes due to job losses, and VAT, as buyers turn to Northern Ireland for supplies. The price differential of VAT

Page 3

(13.5% - 5% and now the carbon tax) will allow shadow economy operators have an even greater impact on legitimate businesses with less environmentallyfriendly imports, which have a higher sulphur content. HAI feels that the introduction of the tax goes against previous sensible Government policy, which deferred the tax on solid fuels until “a robust mechanism could be put in place to counter the sourcing of coal and peat from Northern Ireland.” No such mechanism has been put in place as yet. However, a joint research study between the Irish and Northern Ireland Governments has been announced. This will look at reducing air polution from residential heating, particularly smoky coal. Winter fuel allowance In respect of another mitigating factor – the Winter Fuel Allowance Scheme – HAI

HIGH QUALITY RANGE, GREAT NEW LOOK.

has urged the Government to introduce an officially-endorsed fuel voucher system where recipients would have to use dedicated fuel vouchers or smart cards to purchase solid fuel products from legitimate tax-paying retail outlets. HAI advocates keeping the allowance in local communities to support the sustainability of local retailers who in turn provide employment and additional community support. The solid fuel sector is already very competitive and good value is available locally. The industry has no option now but to live with the impact of the Solid Fuel Carbon Tax (SFCT). However, HAI will continue to work with all interested parties to ensure that other mitigating factors – such as the manner of payment of the Winter Fuel Allowance and the flow of nonconforming and lower VAT-rated fuels from Northern Ireland – are addressed as a matter of urgency.

New Ross, Co. Wexford Tel: 051-422288

– Top grade 100% Polish coal – High heat output – Lasts longer than other traditional coal – Low ash – Highest quality coal on the Irish market for many years

Staffords top quality solid fuel

BURNS HOTTER LONGER Better value than most cheaper fuels Family owned Irish Company Estd. Wexford 1891

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Bord na Móna fuels leads the way For over 80 years Bord na Móna, the largest supplier of solid fuel in Ireland, has led the way in designing an innovative and convenient range of quality fuel solutions to Irish consumers. The Bord Na Móna range mostly includes coal, smokeless coal, peat briquettes, and convenience products. At the heart of the Bord Na Móna range is its authentic Irish peat briquettes. As relevant now as they were 80 years ago, there is no peat substitute that gives off the same level of heat and burn time that you get from briquettes. Bord Na Móna’s peat briquettes are clean and suitable for stoves as well as open fires, and are a smokeless fuel. Bord Na Móna also offers a broad range of coals which are designed to meet a wide range of fire performance needs. These coals – under the brands of Bord Na Móna, Black Diamond and Suttons – are widely available and deliver on the high quality associated with the brand. October 2013 will see the introduction of Bord Na Móna’s exciting new pack designs. The new design, combined with a diverse quality range, will further copper-fasten Bord Na Móna’s position as the market leader in solid fuels in Ireland. When choosing Bord Na Móna products, consumers can be

assured that they are purchasing the best quality and most economical fuel solutions to suit their lifestyles and budgets. Bord Na Móna continuously strives to bring the best in innovation to its consumers, a fact that is illustrated by its on-going Bord na Mono Black Diamond premium stove fuel commitment to provide Irish shoppers with a variety of choice and value when it comes to home heating. Contact: Bord Na Móna Customer Service. Tel: 1850 744755

‘Rising central heating costs boost Superser sales’ After a relatively mild winter, this year’s unexpectedly cold spring brought a welcome boost in sales of bottled gas and Flogas Superser heater sales for retailers. As central heating costs continue to rise, retail customers will seek cost-effective solutions to control their home heating bills. Superser heaters enable homeowners spot-heat a room quickly and costeffectively, and so will lead to increased demand this coming Winter. “We urge retailers not to be caught out and to stock up on Superser heaters to meet the expected demand,” said Eoin O’Flynn of Flogas Ireland, the exclusive distributor for Superser in Ireland and the UK. “Flogas Superser heaters are the perfect solution for costconscious customers looking to control their heating bills. They are extremely useful as an instant, economic and portable way to ‘spot-heat’ a room quickly, as many customers find it far cheaper than turning on the central heating for an hour or two,” concluded Eoin. For homeowners who want instant heat that’s both stylish and useful, Flogas supplies two contemporary-looking and stylish mobile heaters – the Superser Radiant and Superser Catalytic. In particular, the Superser Catalytic burns without a flame and has lower touch temperatures, making it safer. It is also fitted with easy glide castors that allow for trouble-free moving from room to room. Contact: Flogas. Tel: 041- 983 1041; www.flogas.ie Left: Student enjoying the comfort of a warm study using a Flogas Superser radiant heater.

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CPL smokeless fuel plant for Foynes CPL Industries, the parent company of CPL Fuels Ireland, has announced plans to build a new smokeless fuel plant at the Port of Foynes that will create 142 jobs. The plant will initially have a capacity of 200,000 tonnes of briquette production but will be designed with the potential to expand to over 300,000 tonnes should this be supported by on-going market development. CPL Industries is a UK-based company and one of Europe's leading manufacturers and wholesalers of smokeless solid fuel products for the domestic heating market.

CPL Fuels Ireland entered the Irish solid fuel market in 2011, establishing a nationwide marketing and distribution network, and an operations facility in Foynes Port. Further to the announcement by Phil Hogan T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government of a future ban on the sale of smoky coal, CPL decided to proceed with a proposal to invest €20 million in the creation of a new bio-fuel plant. This is subject to planning permission being granted, and the suitable implementation of the proposed ban and appropriate

Phil Hogan T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.

government support for bio-fuels. The plant will employ approximately 100 people when fully operational, with 42 additional people in sales, distribution and plant

Stafford Fuel’s Polish coal – tried, trusted and cost-efficient Stafford Fuels have been importing top-quality Polish coal for over 50 years. It is recognised as the premium coal product on the market, giving higher heat, over a longer period of time, than most equivalent coal. Stafford Fuels supply 100% Polish coal, well screened to remove nearly all slack and dust, and presented in a durable plastic bag to minimise soiling of customer car boots and other handling issues. With coal, cheaper is not always better. For some of the cheaper fuels heat output can be up to 15% less than top-quality Polish coal. Polish coal can also last 20% to 30% longer than the cheaper coals. There have been some positive signs for the solid fuel market in the last year or two. The very significant increase in the number of solid fuel stoves being sold has resulted in some increase in solid fuel volumes and brought customers back to burning solid fuel. Some people use smokeless ovoids or similar products while some use wood. It is recommended to use dried wood – ideally kiln-dried hardwood to get the best heat output. Another positive is that with the rising cost of oil and gas, consumers see there is significant value in solid fuel. In addition, in these difficult recessionary times, people find it is easier to manage their heating budget using solid fuel. This is because firstly, it is easier to have €30 each week for a weekly purchase of solid fuel as opposed to the need to accumulate €500 or more for a bulk oil delivery. Secondly, you can easily tell how much coal or smokeless fuel you are using whereas there are reports of people being surprised by the size of their gas bill, or how quickly the oil ran out, in last winter’s harsh temperatures. Overall, solid fuel still has an important part to play in supplying the heating needs of this country. Contact: Stafford Fuels. Tel: 051 – 422 288; email: info@staffordfuels.ie; www.staffordfuels.ie

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maintenance. A further 150 people will be employed in the construction of this new facility. The company hopes to have the plant operational by 2015. The plant will also have a need for approximately 80,000 tonnes of biomass when in full production and initial discussions have commenced with growers about how this need can be met, by developing biomass production over the next few years in Ireland. CPL CEO Tim Minett said: “Ireland is the first country in Europe to move towards a ban on the sale of smoky coal. This is a very welcome initiative spearheaded by Minister Hogan. Not only has it been widely welcomed by healthcare and environmental groups, but it has also given us the impetus to take this decision. We trust that the government will work to encourage customers to switch to these new fuels in the three-year switchover period as they have done with other green initiatives. “This can be achieved by both continuing to fund more energy efficient homes and by zerorating these new fuels for Carbon Tax for a limited time between now and 2016. We can supply a smoke-free product that has superior heat output and burn time than traditional bituminous coal. “We are delighted that we have reached agreement with the Port of Foynes to locate this facility here. We would also like to pay tribute to Minister Hogan for his recent announcement on a ban on smoky coal. Ireland is truly leading the way on improving air quality. We agree with the words of An Taisce who described this decision as “an enlightened policy”.


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HAIGS Captain’s Prize

HAIGS President’s Prize

Rosslare Golf Club Sponsor: Irish Abrasives MEN

Carton House Sponsor: Tucks O`Brien

Overall Winner: Martin Rowe, 38 points, (H8) (back nine)

Overall Winner: Jim Copeland, 45 points, (H18)

MEN

Second Place Noel Conroy, 39 points, (H18) (back nine)

Second Place: Paddy O’Leary, 38 points, (H22) Third Place: Eddie Kelly, 36 points, (H14)

Third Place Hugh O’Donnell, 39 points, (H9)

Class 1 Winner: Niall Barry, 34 points, (H8) Second Place: Tim Lodge, 32 points, (H13) Class 2 Winner: Eddie Battersby, 35 points, (H15) (back nine)

Class 1

Captain’s Day ladies winner Marian Kelly receives her prize from Lady Captain Dolores Colman.

Second Place Michael McBride, 38 points, (H15) Class 2 Winner: Tadhg O’Connor, 38 points, (H18)

Second Place: Michael Goggin, 35 points, (H16)

Second Place Martin Hennessy, 35 points, (H20)

Class 3 Winner: Willie Dixon, 34 points, (H24) (back nine) Second Place: Laurence Kelly, 34 points, (H22)

Winner: Vincent Hyland, 38 points, (H12) (back nine)

Class 3

President’s Day mens winner Jim Copeland receiving his prize from Jim Cuddy, President HAIGS.

Front nine; Joe Wallace, 17 points, (H13)

Winner: Laurence Kelly, 37 points, (H23) (back nine) Second Place Liam Webb, 37 points, (H21)

Back nine: David Ryan, 19 points, (H19)

LADIES

Front nine Paddy O’Leary , 22 points, (H22) (last six)

Overall Winner: Marian Kelly, 32 points

Back nine David Bolger, 20 points, (H21)

Second Place: Joan Wallace, 30 points

LADIES

Third Place: Barbara O’Connell, 29 points

Overall Winner: Barbara O’Connell, 35 points

Fourth Place: Mary Grennan, 27 points (back nine)

Jim Cuddy, President HAIGS with President’s Day ladies winner Barbara O’Connell.

Third Place Marian Kelly, 30 points

Front nine; Bridie Webb, 17 points

Fourth Place Joan Wallace, 24 points

Back nine: Teresa Felle, 16 points

Fifth Place Chris O’Connor, 23 points

Past Captain’s Prize: Eddie Kelly, 36 points (H14)

VISITORS

VISITORS Richie O’Grady, 40 points L O’Neill, 34 points

Second Place Kathleen Lynch, 33 points

Captain`s Prize winner Martin Rowe with HAIGS Captain Joseph Wallace.

Glen Shanhan , 48 points, (H22) Michael O’Flynn, 37 points, (H12)

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An overview of the groundfloor of the Killorglin outlet taken from the first-floor balcony

Photography: David Rolt

Boyles of Killorglin … all change but no change!

George and Muriel Boyle with Karen Boyle and Nigel Boyle

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Boyles of Killorglin (and Castlemaine and Tralee) is a name that is deeply embedded in the history and psyche of Ireland’s hardware and builders merchant industry. Apart from tradition and longevity, Boyles Hardware is equally-renowned as a progressive and dynamic enterprise with George Boyle the primary driving force, and daughter Karen, son Adrian, and nephews Nigel and Mervyn perpetuating that strength and ambition.


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eorge is justifiably credited with providing the vision and leadership that has seen what was once a small builders merchants and agri supplies business – established by his father in 1944 in Castlemaine, Co Kerry – transformed into the National Award Winner in the 2013 Octabuild Builders Merchant Awards. Nonetheless, spend some time with George and you realise it is not just modesty that sees him deflect credit away from himself to the role of his wife, Muriel, in the success of the business … it is simply a statement of fact. While never involved directly in the day-to-day running of the business, Muriel was (and still is) George’s principal sounding board. She has been a party to all major decisions made, while at the same time running the home and looking after the children. This is hardly surprising given that Boyles is very much a family-run enterprise. George went into the business straight from school at the age of 17 and, by the time he was 23, had assumed control of the company with his brother Richard F (Richie) Boyle. Their father stepped back to a monitoring/overseeing role. There were six brothers in all in the family, but the four others went a related route and formed a construction company. Down through the years they have intertraded and worked together on numerous projects but Boyles Hardware is very much an independent entity owned by George, his brother Richie, and their families. The business trades today as Richard Boyle & Sons (2004) Ltd.

G

y:

Apart from tradition and longevity, Boyles Hardware is equallyrenowned as a progressive and dynamic enterprise

The Killorglin outlet is a massive complex standing on three hectares

The original Castlemaine Branch (established in 1944), which is synonymous with Richie Boyle, still serves the local builders merchant, agri and hardware needs of the locality. It is managed by his son Mervyn.

The newer Tralee Branch is managed by George’s son, Adrian. This has perhaps a bigger catchment area and is modelled more on the flagship Killorglin Branch, stocking a broader range of housewares and hardware, in addition to builders

The trade counter in the Killorglin branch

The vast garden centre sits comfortably beside the main building

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Staff at the Killorglin Topline store

merchants goods. It has recently undergone a major refurbishment with the installation of state-of-the-art, fully fitted-out, bathroom and heating showrooms. However, the flagship outlet is undoubtedly the Killorglin Branch. It is extraordinary to think that this massive complex – sitting on a three-hectare (approximately seven-acre) site – is but four years old. People in Ireland now talk of “the recession” hitting five or six yeas ago yet, it was at that precise time that George and the team at Boyles undertook to build the new outlet on the town centre’s perimeter. It also makes you wonder how they functioned in the original Killorglin premises, which is located right in the centre of the town. Throughout the so28 THE HARDWARE JOURNAL

called tiger economy years business was booming and the logistics alone of operating from that location were a massive challenge. “But it was not always so”, remembers George. “When I first came into the business it was more an agri supplies business with hardware as an add-on. We supplied all types of agri equipment, and other agri-related products. Remember, we came from a farming background and I myself was born on the farm.” However, this gradually changed over the years and, as the needs of the growing customer base broadened, so too did the diversity of the product portfolio carried. Year on year new product lines were added with the emphasis eventually switching to building supplies and hardware.

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George remembers these early days vividly, if not fondly then at least with some nostalgia. “These were hard times”, he says. “but people were different. There was a strong community spirit and we in Boyles were very much part of that. We knew all our customers, and all about them. We became part of their lives. Thankfully, we can honestly say the same today for a large percentage of our customers, but not obviously, for the growing passing trade we enjoy.” George Boyle is something of an enigma. He is very much a man of his time, traditional and committed to fundamental core values. He has an immense work ethic. At the same time he is dynamic and progressive, always looking to develop, to try something new, and to invest. For instance, George bought one of the first forklifts in the country in the early 1960s. Today this might not seem such a big deal but back then it was today’s equivalent of investing in a team of robots to man the entire operation. He vividly recalls travelling to the Spring Show in Dublin and engaging with the salesman on the Hyster stand who, after a great deal of conversation, convinced him that a brand new model as opposed to the second-hand one he was considering would be far better. They did the deal and shortly after George could be seen in the yard of the Killorglin Branch shifting stock about on pallets that they had to make themselves. Where it really came into its own was in unloading timber from trucks. Prior to this it was all done by hand and was a timeconsuming, labour-intensive task. Over the years the business continued to expand and develop. A major factor in this development was the decision to become a Topline member. Topline is the trading name of Amalgamated Hardware PLC, a wholly Irish-owned buying group with over 80 affiliated members and over 160 store locations nationwide. Like Boyles, many of the members


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have been in business for generations, promote local employment, and continue to serve and play an active part in their local communities. But so much for the past. As already stated, George is forever looking to tomorrow, to develop new ideas and to bring new product lines on stream. This is a trait he has very definitely passed on to his children in the business Karen and Adrian, and indeed his nephews Nigel and Mervyn. They are all also imbued with George’s “can do” attitude and sense of commitment and belief. They needed to be as the tiger economy years peaked and collapsed just as they commenced construction on the massive new Killorglin Branch. Undeterred they forged ahead, concentrating instead on getting the fundamentals right. As a team they worked very closely with the architects and others involved in the project, questioning and re-evaluating their plans and perceptions and being strong and bold enough to make changes and alterations along the way. The result is a modern superstore of epic proportions incorporating dedicated departments housing hardware, homewares, a garden centre, home heating, doors and floors, painting, pet, plumbing, bathrooms, electrical goods and seasonal products. Day to day Nigel Boyle looks after the trade side of the business while Karen Boyle is responsible for the retail side. However, effectively they work as a partnership with a great deal of cross-over support and cooperation. Indeed, the store layout demands this. While it is easy to distinguish the hardware and trade sections, they are immediately adjacent to – and seamlessly lead in to – the retail “departments”. It is commonplace for customers at the trade counter to wander into housewares to make a purchase after they have completed their trade business or, as often as not, while waiting for an order to be filled.

The heavy builders merchant products such as timber and other supplies are located within the same complex but obviously have a separate loading bay and collection point to facilitate large vehicles and trucks. Boyles have always offered quality

products at competitive, value-for-money prices. In addition, the quality of the customer interface and that of the aftersales support provided is of an equallyhigh order. “Our trade customers come to us not just for products and supplies”, says Nigel,

Tralee branch

Tralee branch team — Richard Brady and Trevor Hegarty with Francis Boyle, Shiela Leen, Paul Galway, Christopjher Krajnik, Trevor West, William Hartnett and Adrian Boyle.

Above and below: The Tralee showroom has recently been extensively remodelled

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Castlemaine branch team – Brendan Murphy with Denis Murphy, Jenny Dowling and Mervyn Boyle.

“but for the advice and guidance we offer. Our counter staff are very experienced across all areas of the business and we will engage with customers if they have a specific problem to help resolve it.” “It is the same with the housewares, garden and related sections of the store”, says Karen. “Here we have to be especially dynamic. It is not just about the quality of the products and the value we offer, customers are constantly looking for something new, something different. “I travel to all the housewares fairs worldwide, sourcing new products and picking up new lines and ideas that will continue to make Boyles of Killorglin a destination outlet. Like the trade side, we are renowned for the advice and help we provide to customers when making a purchasing decision, especially a high-value one. “We have our own interior designer who provides free consultations and advice. In addition, she features on Radio Kerry on an interior design slot sponsored by Boyles. “You also have to be brave and go for something different. For instance, who would have thought that a books department would go down so well? Customers expect to find household goods, paints, electrical appliances, kitchenware, etc, but books? Such is the reaction to this that we are continuously growing it. We’ve 30 THE HARDWARE JOURNAL

even had a great season in wet suits, original Croc shoes, flip-flops and kids clothing. “Then there is the garden centre. This is a massive section that once again offers all manner and variety of plants, pots and related gardening equipment. As with all areas of the business, we offer advice and consultations and have a qualified horticulturist on the staff who is available for site visits if that is required.” Underpinning all of this is the deep sense of relationship with the local community. The level of engagement evident within the store between staff and customers on any given day bears evidence of this. The encounter begins with a personal greeting and some light-

hearted banter, and then proceeds to the business at hand. Even first-time customers are greeted in a similarly open, though less familiar, fashion. People are put at ease and made to feel relaxed and welcome. This sense of community is further enhanced by sponsorship of local charity events, sporting events, and the hosting of a farmers’ market in the car park throughout the summer months. There are also regular coffee mornings, cooking demonstrations and barbeques, while the regular slots with various interior designers and colour consultants are free of charge to all customers. When viewed in this context you realise that with Boyles Hardware everything has changed … but then again nothing has. It was started in 1944 – obviously as a commercial enterprise – but very much as part of the fabric of the local community. Today the scale of the operation is massive by comparison, the number and variety of products carried are enormously different, but the core values and philosophy are exactly the same. And what of George Boyle himself? Is he content to sit back and give the new generation their heads? He has long since entrusted them with the running of the business but as for sitting back? He admits to having two new major projects in his head … what becomes of them could very well be down to the real boss, Muriel!

Books in a hardware store? As George said: “What we don’t have in our store you could live without”

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PROFIT IS THE TARGET

NO JARGON … JUST 10 PRACTICAL TIPS TO BOOST BUSINESS Since leaving B&Q I have been working almost exclusively within the independently-owned hardware market, offering support and advice to business owners in areas such as range, layout, store

standards, promotions and pricing. My working alongside owners has been an eye-opening and thought-provoking experience. The pressure of running any business has probably never been greater than it is right now, particularly in this sector. There is so much going on at any given time that owners are finding it increasingly difficult to not just run their businesses, but to trade their businesses. Some of you may feel these are one and the same thing, but they are not … the two are totally different. I guess that’s where people like me come

in. What I’ve seen in this market since I departed from B&Q is owners and managers who are looking for some guidance and support, a point in the right direction. The desire and capability is there but they just need someone to wind the coil and provide a set of fresh eyes offering a different perspective. This is why I have compiled 10 actions that you can do today to make an immediate difference – practical things you can do right now to drive your business.

1. Promotional set up and execution If you are investing in inventory and margin to promote a product, ensure it is not hidden away down an aisle. Customers have been educated by food retailers over the years to expect to find the best deals on the aisle ends. Ensure that you identify the ends in your store and ring-fence their use to locate your best promotional deals. As a guideline, ensure that you have no more than three products on an end. This

Luke Dolan has spent 18 years working for some of the biggest organisations in the world in sectors such as home improvement and DIY, telecommunications, IT and FMCG Wholesale. He began in front-end operations, running stores with turnover in excess of £30 million and employing over 250 staff, and subsequently moved to head office roles. Here he occupied senior leadership positions in both the UK and Ireland across many different disciplines, including commercial, merchandising, marketing, operations, change management, HR and finance. Luke’s most recent role was as Store Support Manager of B&Q Ireland, responsible for the commercial, pricing, marketing and finance aspects of the entire Irish operation. He now runs his own retail consultancy offering retailers support and advice on how to best make improvements to their operations to drive sales and ultimately increase bottom-line profitability. Contact: www.dolanretailservices.com

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should be made up of a primary product, secondary product and an add-on product. An example would be 10L emulsion, 1L gloss and a brush pack. If you have an advert or flyer running, the products advertised should be located where possible on your aisle ends. Pricing on promotional ends should be high level, large and bold and priced using the primary product only. Ultimately ends should scream “value”.

2. POS material execution Ensure that you constantly review your point of sale material in your store – is it uniform? Is it laid out correctly using the same font? Do all displays (particularly appliances, furniture etc) have POS on? POS material is a key tool in your armoury. It is an opportunity to highlight value in your store, particularly on promotional products, and is critical in creating a value perception in the minds of customers as they shop your store.

3. Add-on sales Are all your team members switched on to add on sales? When talking to customers are they offering project completers? Addon sales are not just about selling a paint brush with paint; add-on sale opportunities exist all around the store, handles with doors, light bulbs with lights, tool boxes with hand tools. Add-on sale products are generally your high-margin lines and can dramatically improve your average transaction value, as well as your net margin return.

4. Project quantities How close are you to your stock availability levels? Everyone focusses on gaps and making sure you have items in stock, but how many of you review project quantities? There are a number of lines within your store that people buy in multiples. For example, door handles are usually bought in multiples of four or five … how many projects on handles do you have in stock? Enough for one customer? 32 THE HARDWARE JOURNAL

When was the last time you walked your store? What type of experience do your customers receive when they are in your store?

Wall lights are bought in pairs, wallpaper is bought not only in project quantities of five or six rolls, but also by batch … do you have enough of each batch to complete a project sale? How many people have left your store because you don’t have sufficient stock for them to complete their project?

5. Pricing compliance Have you walked your store lately for pricing compliance? Are all the products in store priced on the shelf edge? This is not only a good customer service tool and a means of reducing the amount of customer queries, it is also a legal requirement.

6. Rounding prices Do you have random prices in your store? Are you missing out on extra margin by not rounding prices? Determine your price-rounding policy and ensure that you unlock the potential of additional margin. Rounding prices such as €2.27 to €2.49 and €78.26 to €79.99 gives you additional margin. However, be careful not to round prices too much as this can affect your competitiveness, particularly on your highly-visible lines. Price-rounding is a fine balance, but a beneficial one once you get it right!

There is so much going on at any given time that owners are finding it increasingly difficult to not just run their businesses, but to trade their businesses

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Do you know when these and other similar short spikes will occur? Have you planned your stock and promotions to coincide with these mini seasons? Look at the weekly sales by product group for last year for the coming weeks, is there anything that sticks out? Can you see a spike in the normal weekly sales trend?

9. Trading plans Do you have a forward-looking plan for your store? Do you have a plan for future promotions, marketing activity and customer service initiatives? Get a calendar and start plotting future activity to begin to build a picture of what you will be doing over the coming weeks/months. Use this going forward to build contingency plans for factors such as severe weather, etc.

10. Walk your store

Add on sales are a great way to drive Average Transaction Value (ATV) and ultimately profit.

7. Competitor awareness Do you know what you competition is up to? I know for a fact your customers do. Customers are more savvy now than ever, information is at their fingertips and you need to ensure that you are competitive. But remember, competition isn’t purely about price. It is also about the in-store experience, the customer service offered, the ranges that are stocked, and how products are displayed. Ensure that you understand who your competition is for each area of your store. Visit them at least every couple of weeks to understand what they are doing in-store, and benchmark how that compares to how you do it and make whatever adjustments that are necessary.

Xmas etc. But what about the shorter, more specific season that lasts only a couple of weeks? Things such as fire safety sales spike significantly towards the end of October.

8. Mini-seasons Everyone is focussed on the main selling seasons – garden season, heating season,

Price-rounding is a fine balance, but a beneficial one once you get it right!

Arguably, the most important point of all is ensuring you walk every area of your store every day. This is a ritual and habit you need to build into your daily routine. Walk your store through the eyes of a customer … what is the customer experience like? How well presented is your store? How easy is it to shop your store? Use this time to walk with your teams and get their feedback … you may just uncover a golden nugget! These are just a few of the key things that you can do on a regular basis to improve the operation, and ultimately performance, of your store. I’m sure that you are doing some, if not all, of these things to some degree. However, these are the areas that require a laser-like focus, these are the areas that really make a difference and can give you that extra gear to drive your performance. I will be writing a regular column in the The Hardware Journal over the coming issues and would welcome feedback, questions and suggestions from readers. I can be contacted directly at www.dolanretailservices.com

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While the merger of Tucks and PE O’Brien is all about the present and the future, it is nonetheless important to acknowledge the 201year combined history of the two companies. Tucks dates back to 1877 while PE O’Brien was established in 1948. This unique heritage is central to the new entity – Tucks O’Brien – not so much as a historical milestone concluding an era but rather as a springboard for future growth and expansion.

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Tucks O’Brien – ‘Ireland’s Premier Tool Distributor’ Also unique given the scale of the operation, and the fact that it is Ireland’s premier power and hand tools supplier, is that Tucks O’Brien is an independent, Irishowned and Irish-managed business. It has a strategic development plan devised to maintain and strengthen this position, and an experienced and progressive management team focused very firmly on realising its goals. While ultra-professional on the one hand, the day-to-day management and operation of the business is simplicity itself. It is all

about providing quality products at competitive, value-for-money prices, and supporting them with equally qualityconscious logistics and after-sales support mechanisms. More than anything else Tucks O’Brien is about mutually-beneficial partnerships with both its suppliers and customers alike. Longevity of trading relationships is the hallmark of these partnerships with, for instance, this September marking the 40th anniversary of dealing with Makita. Similar long-term trading relationships exist with many of its customers. Following the establishment of Tucks O’Brien all operations were re-located to the company’s headquarters in Citywest. Apart from extensive offices and showroom facilities, it also incorporates a massive 35,000 sq ft warehouse. This is a critical resource as the product portfolio comprises approximately 16,000 individual items, with all of the fast-moving lines carried on an ex-stock basis. New lines are added on a daily basis. Orders placed up to 3.30pm on any given day are guaranteed next day delivery, while 97% availability is assured on all stock items. Tucks O’Brien represents all the premier hand and power tool brands from around the world. In fact, such is the strength of its reputation that, since the merger, it now Left: Donal Moulton, Product & Marketing Director with Bob Boxwell, Commercial Director

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Tala tool bag

regularly gets approaches from manufacturers wishing to be included in the portfolio. While something like 1000 new lines have been added in the recent past, management is careful to ensure that all brands represented sit comfortably together. Underpinning and reinforcing the strength of the product/brand portfolio is a staff complement of experienced, highly-trained personnel. Across all functions they perform to an exacting performance criteria to ensure customer satisfaction no matter what the size or nature of the order. To achieve that staff numbers have been maintained at a similar level to when turnover was far greater, at a time when retrenchment and cutbacks are commonplace within the sector. “Our aim”, says Commercial Director Bob Boxwell, “is to provide our customers with the best possible products, and to support this with the best in-store displays. “To that end we have 13 external field sales professionals who are highly experienced in all areas of product, consumer requirements, local market, merchandising and promotions. Whether it is existing Stanley FatMax spirit level

products or the launch of a new line, we provide in-store promotional support in order to generate consumer interest and sales.” Product & Marketing Director Donal Moulton echoes the importance of this level of support. “With our customers, we believe that well-trained retail staff will grow sales by

in customers’ premises, together with promotional and seasonal offers. In addition to our own sales team, these are attended by manufacturers’ representatives to assist with technical enquiries. “To complement this in-store activity we also run regular national promotions on leading brands and product lines. In addition, we provide customers with promotions on products specific to their customer base, and support them with consumer literature featuring the store’s contact details, location and logo. “Underpinning this framework is a team of 17 dedicated independent service agents, strategically located throughout the country to ensure comprehensive nationwide coverage.” Back at head office, 10 telephone sales service staff are available to support

Makita sander

having a thorough knowledge of the brands and products that they are selling. We provide comprehensive product training for shopfloor personnel on a regular basis. “We also organise regional trade shows where several new products are launched

customers, Monday through to Friday. Customers can avail of the trade counter facility for the collection of orders, and see a comprehensive selection of brands and product lines presented in the showrooms. They can also place orders directly via the Tucks O’Brien Webshop. This is an easyto-navigate section of the main company website. It is accessible only to trade customers who must formerly register on the site, and have an account with the company, before they can place orders. It is not accessible to others. Last word to Donal Moulton: “Quite simply, our goal is to offer all our customers a comprehensive range of quality products at competitive prices, backed up by superior professional customer care, expert product knowledge, and quality after sales service.”

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For this month’s View From Abroad we once again look to Hardware Retailing in the US and select a number of simple but very effective ideas to help attract customers into your store, and also to capture sales once you have them in.

View from

Sell, sell,sell … Score with sport-themed promotion Given the insatiable appetite of Irish people for sport of all codes – and especially the fierce rivalries of local leagues and parishes – an idea used by Harbax Home Hardware Building Centre in Nova Scotia could well translate to Ireland. It began with store staff hanging six different hockey teams’ jerseys at the back of the store leading up to the NHL play-offs. However, the display grew as customers requested additional teams’ colours to be included, and even brought jerseys in themselves. Soon the entire local community was involved. Footfall through the store grew significantly and was boosted still further on particular days when, to the strains of The Last Post, the jersey of the most-recently eliminated team was lowered. As the momentum and interest picked up the store devised a related contest. Customers were invited to pick the team they thought would win the league, with all correct answers going in to a draw for a shopping voucher for the store. What started as a simple bit of fun among the staff turned out to be a major store promotion.

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In store teeth cleaning for dogs With more and more hardware outlets adding pet care to their inventory, it is often very difficult to get the message across to existing customers, and to attract new ones. Faced with the same dilemma the pet center at Sebastopol Hardware in Sebastopol, California came up with a novel service … teeth cleaning for dogs. For one Saturday every other month a specialist from a local business comes to the store to offer the service to customers’ pets at the store. “We started offering this service about three years ago,” says co-owner Doug Bishop. “It’s been quite a success. It consistently sells out.” While the specialist isn’t a vet, she has all the necessary certification to offer canine teeth cleaning, and at a rate that is significantly less than a visit to the vet. What are the pet owners doing while they wait ... browsing through the store and shopping of course.


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School outreach The staff at Callahan Do it Best in Jackson, Ohio, recently met some of the store’s future customers … they just happen to be youngsters at the moment.

When a local school called the store to see if it could do a demonstration to teach students some of the fundamentals of construction, it arranged for an employee to present two 30-minute sessions to two student groups. They were shown basic carpentry tools, taught about the importance of proper tool selection, and given a demonstration on how to use certain tools. Some elements of the sessions were hands-on with the students getting to use certain tools themselves. In addition to making early contact with future customers, the outreach project was seen as community supportive and generated goodwill – and custom – from many of the children’s parents.

Link rental and special offers Some special product offers and rental are natural partners. For example, if you sell large containers of say a branded floor cleaner, why not rent the floorcleaning machine too? Apart from providing an add-on sale for you, the customer feels you’ve shown a greater interest. Very often you can also save the customer money as they can rent from you as opposed to buying a machine.

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Create a festive/party mood To stand out you’ve got to do things differently, to think a little outside the box. Carl’s Ace Hardware in Peoria, Arizona hit on a simple-to-execute and cheap promotion – live music. Every Tuesday in July there was a mini-concert from 6pm to 8pm in the store’s parking lot, featuring owner Carl Herrgesell and his band, The Carl Herrgesell Band, and other local artists. “We wanted to do something to get to know our customers and the neighborhoods better,” says Faith Herrgesell, co-owner. “Since Carl is a musician, we thought it would be fun to have a concert.” Attendees received free snow cones at each concert, and the Herrgesells sent out weekly store coupons that could be redeemed on those Tuesdays to drive additional traffic to the store. At one concert they also announced how much money they collected in a recent charity fundraiser. Think about it … do you have any musicians on your team? are there members of a local choral group or drama society among the staff? In addition to creating a feelgood factor, these locally-based, locally-run events foster a sense of community and well-being that becomes forever associated with your store.

Amazon cast-offs become retailer’s selling edge Customers who make their way to the back of the Ace Hardware store in Walla Walla, Washington, may find some items they don’t expect in an average hardware store, such as telescopes, skateboards and more. The back area of the store – branded Discount Corner – is home to a variety of Amazon.com returns. Liquidation companies often purchase pallets of returns from Amazon, and anyone interested in selling the various items can purchase those pallets. Store staff purchased 35 pallets of returns in the spring and put them on sale for anywhere from 30% to 80% off the suggested retail price. Owner Doug Henry says: “Discount Corner was opened at the end of May and it increased our May sales by 10%. It’s really taken off since then.” Henry says the majority of customers who come in for hardware purchases don’t leave without scoping out what’s in that back room. It’s brought in new customers as well.

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Kathryn Mason, principal of Kathryn Mason PR & Marketing, is highly-qualified and experienced in digital and social media. She has worked across many industry sectors, including hardware retailing. Kathryn has a unique understanding of industry trends and worldwide developments in social marketing and PR, and is adept at bringing those to bear on the Irish market in a simple, no-nonsense manner. She can be contacted at Tel: 087 – 262 7977 or email: km@kathrynmason.ie

Facebook is undoubtedly the big one when it comes to social media. Many people find it daunting, yet it is very simple to set up a business profile, and to harness the additional sales potential.

: A I D ME peril

L t your A I C SO e it a r

igno

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Facebook – business profile made easy Before taking you through an easy-to-follow set up procedure, I will: • Explain the difference between a Facebook profile and a business page, and why you should never use a profile for a business; • Show you how to set up the page initially; • Set your page name URL to reflect your store; • Give a basic tour of the business pages. So, why shouldn’t you use a Facebook profile as a business? Firstly, it is against Facebook rules (See https://www. facebook.com/page_ guidelines.php) and, if caught, the profile page will be deleted. I know of a retailer who ran a personal profile page with over 3,000 friends, as opposed to a proper business page. The personal profile page

was deleted overnight by Facebook! He had to start all over again and set up a business page. This took a long time, especially to build back up the “likes”. That said, to set up a business page you will need a personal profile page but, don’t worry, this information will not be seen by people who “like” the page so your privacy is safe. Setting up a page (1) Go to www.facebook. com/pages and, on the top right, click the “Create page”. It is a green button that stands out; (2) On the next page click the “local business or place” tab; (3) In “Select Category” choose Shopping/Retail, add your shop name and address, and then click accept Facebook page rules.


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Figure A

Figure B

Figure C

(4) The page as depicted in Figure A will now appear on your screen. Take your time and fill in all the information requested. The most important line here is the “choosing a Facebook web address”. This cannot be changed once set so choose wisely and as simply as possible. For example, if your shop is called “Murphy

Hardware” try to keep the web address as “murphyhardware”. That way if a customer types in www.facebook.com/ murphyhardware they will find you. If your shop name is already taken then be creative. Finally click “Save Info”. (5) You will then be asked to upload a profile picture (Figure B). If you have a copy of your

retailer logo in a file format such as a jpeg/jpg this is where you can add it in. If you have a website add the details and Facebook will pull in the logo from the site. (6) Now to the final stage where you are asked to “add to favourites” (Figure C). This will create a short cut on your profile page so you will be able to access the business page simply. That’s it … you are all done and ready to edit the page. So, what next? Initially the main focus for you will be to fill out the rest of the blanks that now appear. Don’t worry yet about looking for “likes” as it is important to get the page up and looking professional first. The cover photo (the large photo across the top of the page) has a specific size. Figure D gives the specific sizing. There are various free online websites that will crop the photo you wish to use to the cover size. Simply Google “Facebook cover free resizer” and you will find lots of sites all free. Once you have uploaded the cover photo and your profile photo is done also, you are ready to start adding posts. In the next part of this series we will go into greater depth as to what to post, when, how and why. THE HARDWARE JOURNAL

Figure D

So, phase one is done, hopefully you have found this straightforward. Your homework for the next issue is to start finding articles and things existing and potential customers would like to see. Content is king and it takes time to build so start keeping an eye out for interesting articles online, or anything digital your suppliers send.

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ANOTHER SIDE OF … Just about everyone in the industry knows Joe Harlin, and the fact that he was a renowned GAA referee, and later refereering administrator supremo. However, did you know he started out as a lab technician, and that during a stint working in Saudia Arabia for Wavin he rubbed shoulders with Tariq Bin Laden (yes, Osama’s half-brother!).

W

ell, if you want to know more about the latter talk to Joe directly. This Another Side Of … is solely concerned with his refereering career, though how he managed to juggle it with a successful family life and 40 years (and still going) of dedicated service to Wavin is beyond comprehension.

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Like all true Meath men Joe was playing Gaelic football virtually from when he could walk, and continued to do so right up through the different age groups to senior club level. However, it was as a referee that he really made his mark. It all started innocently enough. Sitting on the bonnet of his car awaiting the start of a minor club game, he was approached to step into the breach as the allocated referee had not turned up. Reluctant though he was, Joe is not one to let people down, or indeed to shy away from a challenge. That was it … the bug bit him. He embraced refereeing with a passion and his customary thoroughness, completing all the necessary courses and studying the performance of established referees and learning from them. He officiated at all age groups in the early years, gradually moving up to senior and inter-county level. He quickly became known as a disciplinarian among players and officials alike, raising headlines when he sent seven players to the line in an intermediate club game. He endorsed this action a short time later when he dispatched nine players from the field of play in an Under 21 game!

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Joe Harlin

Joe Harlin making a presentation on behalf of the Meath GAA County Board to referee David Coldrick to mark the occasion of his first All-Ireland Senior Football Final.

Nonetheless, both players and officials acknowledged that he was always fair and even-handed, so he continued to get highprofile games. The fact that he rose to the pinnacle of the refereeing tree and officiated in Croke Park on many occasions obviously gave him some deep, inner satisfaction (Joe Harlin does not do pride!). When a serious injury threatened his future involvement in the game, the GAA immediately approached him to tutor referees, and later to act as a refereering assessor. Once again Joe embraced this role with his usual commitment, and very soon became involved in a very senior capacity at administrative level within the GAA. While championing the consistent application of the rules of the game, Joe also championed the position of the referees, and indeed the players. In doing so he brought a level of “soft” professionalism – tinged with common sense – to the matter, which set him apart and earned the respect of all involved in the game. True to the honesty and integrity of the man, having done so for many years, he stood down two years ago. It was time, he said, for someone else to take up the baton. So Joe, what about Tariq Bin Laden then?


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Dulux are the key sponsors of RTE’s new interior show “The Design Doctors”, showing viewers how to fall back in love with their home by making the most of what they already have. The show’s dynamic duo Catherine and Denise (from Optimise Design) will showcase lots of helpful hints and tips for a range of common problems. From expanding families crying out for more space and clever storage to starter homes with uninviting rooms, viewers will get practical advice on transforming spaces with clever redesign and colour. The first show airs on September 5th and runs for 6 weeks. Tune in to see our Dulux sponsorship stings and instore displays to help consumers “Get the Look” with inspirational colour duos appearing across the store.

www.dulux.ie


CPRS00026

The Hardware Journal September/October 2013  

The September/October 2013 issue of the Hardware Association Ireland trade magazine

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