The Fed’s deputy vice-president, Mo Razzaq, made the trip over three days this month to understand more of what retailers in Ireland are getting right.
“Circle K was serving barista-quality coffee, and doing very well with it. Since I’ve got back, I’ve looked into doing the same for my store.
“There are some good local companies that I’m considering, rather than a chain like Costa,” he said. Razzaq, who runs a Premier in Blantyre, said he was also re-evaluating his food-to-go offer since seeing what retailers across the Irish Sea had in store.
“Food to go wasn’t served after 5pm, but breakfasts and lunchtime were busy.
“They’d made themselves into destination stores, with more than half of the floorspace given over to food to go.
“This included pre-packed foods, and sit-in areas with self-serve counters. The prices weren’t cheap, but the customers were still buying. Managers told me customers paid for great service and a standard of quality,” he said.
Razzaq added that while retailers may be put off investing in their food-to-go ranges because of increased costs and rising energy bills, they shouldn’t be.
“In Supervalu, sandwiches and wraps were being made for €1, but selling at around €4. There are really good margins to be had.
“While I was there, there were discussions about cutting oven times to save energy costs, but retailers didn’t consider it a problem overall,” he said, adding that shoplifting was a greater concern.
Street-food offers, especially Indian food, were also very popular in the Spar stores Razzaq visited. “There were samosas, pakoras, chapatis, and curry and rice in tubs, which were all selling very well, alongside decent vegetarian options,” he said.
Asked if he was planning another trip, Razzaq said he was always keen to learn from other retailers in different places.
“At times like this, retailers have to be looking ahead. If we don’t bring in fresh ideas to our stores, we won’t go anywhere,” he said.
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