It’s all go at Clonoe!
It’s all about growth at Lynch’s Foodstores, with the Clonoe store being a testament to the modernisation and development of the Lynch’s brand, as Area Manager Danielle Johnston tells NR.
Lynch’s Foodstores added the Clonoe site to their portfolio in May 2019, an old store which required extensive renovation work. Standing at 2686 sq ft, new flooring and ceilings, shelving, refrigeration and hot and cold counters were all brought into the store.
Tills, coffee machines, offices and the staff canteen were all brought up to date, with new, top-of-the-range equipment bringing the store a clean, modern feel. Complete works were carried out on the outside, with new signage, new pumps, canopy and car parking all added, with work carried out by Portglenone Refrigeration, OB Construction, Shopfit, Little Electrics, Ardspan and Tokheim.
“Nothing of the old store was kept, except the walls,” explains Danielle. “In March 2022 we extended into a store area with a brand new off licence with a walk-in chiller.”
Providing a wealth of up-to-date offerings, Lynch’s Clonoe now boasts two Barista Bar coffee machines, hot food, deli and prepack sandwiches, as well as their own-brand meat and ready meals. With a Post Office, off sales, fuel, tango ice blast, Quinn’s ice cream and customer toilets, consumers are extensively catered for both in-store and on the forecourt.
The Clonoe store was a significant addition to the Lynch’s Foodstores company, growing their site portfolio.
“Adding Clonoe was the start of the company growth in Co Tyrone,” said Danielle.
“At that time Clonoe was the sixth store and they have since added another store less than two miles from Clonoe to their chain of stores.”
Lynch’s Foodstores was established by Denis Lynch in 1980, starting out with a 700 sq ft shop in Feeny. A few years later, the business moved into larger premises in the neighbouring village of Claudy and has always been a family business.
‘The Clonoe store was a significant addition to the Lynch’s Foodstores company, growing their site portfolio’
It now consists of nine stores, employing some 427 staff, 40 of which are based in the Clonoe site. Brenda O’Neill is the store manager, who Danielle explains is a “great person” to have leading the team.
“She has worked in retail for years and joined the company at the start of 2020 as floor supervisor, progressing to store manager at the end of 2022 and she was very deserving of the promotion.
“Brenda is a hard worker and a team player. She continues to keep learning and is a great person to have working in the company. She is always kept busy, between jobs as a new granny and looking after her horses. Even on her day off she is always in the shop.”
Despite a strong and hard-working team, Danielle said that recruiting staff remains a challenge in retail.
“It has gotten harder to recruit staff than it was years ago, it is so easy to leave a job and pick up another one quite quickly, although our staff churn rate is well under our target, so we hope to keep it there.”
Danielle joined Lynch’s in November 2011 when the company took over the shop she was working in in Draperstown.
She began working in part-time retail at 16 years old, working evenings and weekends, before being offered a job as cash office assistant after she graduated from university.
“Shortly after that, Lynch’s took over the Draperstown store and the rest is history,” she said.
‘The Lynchs provide opportunities for their staff to grow and develop with them’
“I have progressed through the company, from cash office assistant, to store manager and now area manager. I have worked with them for over 11 years and I am still learning every day,” she said.
“The Lynchs provide opportunities for their staff to grow and develop with them, a journey that I have experienced and have seen happen to many other staff in my time working for them.”
Danielle said it has been very exciting to be part of the growth and development of the company.
“When I started with Lynch’s, they had just taken on their third store, and now they have nine stores in total, nine store managers and two area managers.”
She added it is a “team effort” at Lynch’s, where she is able to help other staff and ensure they continue to provide the best customer service, something she finds very rewarding.
“Knowing that I can help my store managers thrive and develop their skills through teaching and coaching them; using my experience to help them accomplish tasks and overcome challenges; finding better and more efficient ways of completing tasks – it really is a team effort.”
And it is this attitude, she says, that makes Clonoe stand out from the competition.
“There is always a great buzz about the store, with our community spirit and customer service stand-out features,” she said.
“Clonoe shouts value at every corner – we run a lot of extra promotional deals in store which are always highlighted with POS and bold stacks and dumpbins.
“Fresh participation in Clonoe is strong, with own-brand meat and ready meals, you can get all you need for dinner and more. We also have a great hot food counter and deli counter, which got into the final of the Food To Go category at the Neighbourhood Retailer Awards last year.”
KEY PROFIT CENTRES
She added all the staff across Lynch’s Foodstores are keen to continue to add to their list of award wins and achievements, highlighting Clonoe’s key profit centres and USPs.
“Hot food, deli and coffee for the transit customer, but also fresh produce, bread and dairy, including own-brand ready meals and meat that are available for the local customer.
“Our community focus is so important to us as well, we support local football clubs with water and fruit for matches, local schools with Christmas colouring photos and prizes and also sports day kits, water and fruit for the local schools.”
However, they will not rest on their laurels and driving traffic and marketing the business is still a hugely important element for Danielle and the team.
“We continue to use road over bags for any special promotions we run and Alastair Connor looks after our social media, it is a great tool for shouting about value, new products and staff achievements.
“Social media content is also great for our store managers to get ideas from other stores to help drive sales.”
TO VIEW THE FULL STORE PROFILE ON LYNCH’S FOODSTORES CLONOE IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD RETAILER MAY ISSUE, CLICK HERE