Making noise in Benburb

McAnallen's Benburb

The residents in Benburb can’t get enough of  the state-of-the-art convenience and forecourt that McAnallen’s Solo has to offer.

Long known for its famous battle of 1646, its fine old buildings and its picturesque scenery, the Tyrone-Armagh border village welcomed a bright modern addition to its streetscape six months ago.

As the family’s second grocery business in the area, the new Spar store coincides with the 20th-anniversary year of the McAnallen family trading in Benburb.

Work on the new shop premises, next door to the pub on the Derryfubble Road, began in February 2018. The project consisted of the construction of a purpose-built 4,000 square ft. modern store, a spacious car-park, fuel pumps and other facilities for vehicles.

Neighbourhood Retailer talked to store manager Fergus McAnallen, who shares how the business is impacting the local community with forward thinking convenience and a wide range of meals on offer to cater for multiple dietary needs.

McAnallen's Benburb 2

“We opened the store just over six months ago in February. We spent around a year building the store and forecourt, with another year previous to this on the planning and application of the site. Prior to this, there were numerous considerations over whether we could expand the old site or create a brand new one. We decided on the latter, and business has been good for far.”

The shop has kept a busy floor since opening its doors, despite a lull over the summer that many retailers felt across the board. An extension of existing product ranges and services is combined with interior design aspects reflecting the natural and built heritage of Benburb.

The modern interior layout allows customers ease of access to a wide variety of grocery items and health foods, as well as a gifting area. A state-of-the-art kitchen and deli serves an enhanced selection of cooked breakfasts, hot meals and salads, while a preparation kitchen has been developed to produce homemade ready-meals on-site

The store currently partner with Solo, who are celebrating their 10th anniversary of business this year.

“Before opening the new store we were already buying from Solo fuel, so it was a natural progression to continue trading with them. We’ve had great support from them, including the new canopy, and advice on various matters.

“Coming from a site where we just have a single-sided roadside pump, to a double-sided pump where there is much more space for people to move around, we’ve created a forecourt that is much easier to access and a lot handier for commuters.”

Fergus and his team have seen growing success in their business with their partnership with Solo. For Fergus, having a branded fuel company behind them makes the store more approachable.

McAnallen's Benburb 3

“Fuel is one important part of our business, but we also have a hot food and deli set up which would be one of our strongest points in the business. Over the next while we hope to increase the array of our own branded products in our fridges and deli cabinets.

“We’ve dealt with a number of suppliers over the last six months, particularly increasing the range of ready meals we have on offer, which include a lot of healthy eating dishes.

“Although we don’t have our own branded selection of vegan meals, we do have an extensive range of ‘free-from’ products. We have an entire sections dedicated to it, including gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and organic and Fairtrade products too.”

As well as fresh food and fuel services, the rapidly growing village of Benburb can also benefit from provide post-office services on its new site, including daily banking facilities. An ATM is also available in store, as well as a barista bar and home fuel products.

With challenges facing retailers in this increasingly competitive industry, Fergus and his family maintain an exciting variety of products and services in store to keep up with the needs of the modern consumer.

“Competing with online retail is a challenge for us as grocery retailers. However, there isn’t much we can do about that apart from offering the best variants of grocery products we can instore.

“We always strive and endeavour to do better and push ourselves towards future success. Where we started out from and where we are now is day and night. The new site gives us a much more spacious, airy shop than what we were in before. It allows us to be well-stocked, and customers here have raved about the variety of choice on offer.”

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