Creightons of Blacks Road – driven to succeed
Having become manager of Creightons of Blacks Road in April 2017, Pauline Elliott and her dedicated team have worked hard to establish the store as a one-stop shop for their customers.
This hard work and commitment was justly rewarded when they took home their very first award – the Neighbourhood Store of the Year (Cat 2) at last year’s Neighbourhood Retailer Awards. Pauline said they were thrilled with their win.
“We were absolutely delighted to win the award. Our customers were also delighted for us,” she said.
“When I was entering, I asked our customers what they like about our store, why they keep coming back to us and they said they love how clean the store is and that they can get everything they need in one shop.
“They were also praising our staff, saying how good they are and praising them for giving 100% to their job.”
Group manager, Andrew Porter said Pauline and her team were “most deserving” of the award.
“The whole team was delighted for them. Pauline is unbelievable, she has really driven the store forward,” said Andrew.
“She has really high standards in terms of merchandising and she has a really brilliant team who respect her and what she wants to do with the store. Pauline really is the reason why the store won the award.”
‘I asked our customers what they like about our store, why they keep coming back to us and they said they love how clean the store is and that they can get everything they need in one shop’
Pauline has worked for the business for 27 years and was a supervisor at the Finaghy store when Andrew and Niall Creighton identified her potential and believed she was “a perfect fit” for the Blacks Road store. She became involved in the store in late 2016, becoming manager in April the following year.
“I have an amazing team and we have shown great growth,” added Pauline.
“Their retail standards would be just as amazing as mine. We want to be thought of as a neighbourhood store, as a community store. We are trying to do our best for our customers and we have really good relationships with them. We have found that more and more people are coming back to us and are now our regulars, which we love.”
Having bought the store which became Creightons of Blacks Road in February 2015, the company undertook major renovations of the 3000 sq ft store and the forecourt in the summer of 2016.
“We took away a car wash to create car park spaces and we got new pumps and changed fuel provider to Topaz, which is now Circle K,” said Andrew. “So, there was a lot of work carried out inside and outside. It was very exciting and really transformed the business.”
THE CREIGHTON STORY
During those renovations, a new deli counter and ice cream counter were installed, while the refrigeration systems were also replaced and new flooring and tills installed.
Once the work was completed, it brought the Blacks Road store up to the same standard of both the Finaghy and Balmoral stores.
“The Balmoral store opened brand new in May 2016 and the Finaghy store had a major renovation in 2017,” said Andrew. “So, all three stores have been brought to a really high standard.
“There are a lot of similarities between the three stores in terms of décor and design, which is traditional but with a modern twist,” he added.
‘We want to be thought of as a neighbourhood store, as a community store. We are trying to do our best for our customers and we have really good relationships with them’
One of Belfast’s most iconic retailers, the Creighton story began in 1936 when WG Creighton opened a car repair shop on the Finaghy site. The company is run today by son, Niall Creighton and his sister, Mrs Gail Boyd.
Across their three South Belfast stores, they employ 150 staff, with 35 at their Blacks Road site.
“We have quite a few part-time staff and a lot of students there,” said Pauline, and added she was full of praise for how well the staff worked throughout the pandemic.
“We were making changes to our shift patterns, bringing in more staff at night to get the store cleaned really well and all stocked up again, as people were coming into the store so early each day,” she said.
“During covid people were definitely shopping local more, using us to get all their essentials in. We could get the items in that they wanted and needed. We were offering good deals in store, having competitive promotions and having the range and variety for them too.”
“There was a lot of really hard work put in by the staff to make that all happen,” added Andrew.
GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
While there have been a number of areas of growth for the business, one particular standout area for them is their fresh food selection.
“Fresh food has probably been one of the strongest growth areas for us in our stores, all three have shown really strong percentage participation in fresh, it’s really strong and continues to grow,” said Andrew.
“We are trying to offer more lines and ranges from our production kitchen, and they have been received well. We prepare a lot of our own ready meals, pre-packed sandwiches, fruit pots – all of these are freshly made,” added Pauline.
Having won her first award, Pauline is not resting on her laurels and will continue to drive the Blacks Road store forward, continuing on her mission to be the best community store for everyone
As with the majority of businesses and retailers, social media plays a significant part in enabling them to communicate with their customers, as well as encouraging new shoppers to visit their stores. Pauline said their social media channels are particularly successful with seasonal promotions.
“We use social media very strongly around our seasonal events, such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter.
“We had a very popular competition for Valentine’s Day where you could win a meal at Shu Restaurant and we will be doing a similar competition for Mother’s Day.
“Social media is very very important for us around those seasonal events and we find it works very well.”
Having won her first award, Pauline is not resting on her laurels and will continue to drive the Blacks Road store forward, continuing on her mission to be the best community store for everyone – and she is already looking forward to this year’s Neighbourhood Retailer Awards.
“I am busy filling in the entry form and know it will be another brilliant night for everyone!”
TO VIEW THE FULL STORE PROFILE ON CREIGHTONS OF BLACKS ROAD IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD RETAILER MARCH ISSUE, CLICK HERE