McCullagh’s: Within challenges lie opportunities
2022 was a key year for Omagh store, McCullagh’s Classic as they marked 30 years in business and rounded it off by taking the top title of Retailer of the Year at the NR Awards last October.
We celebrated 30 years in business in 2022 and overall it was a hugely successful year for us. As Covid restrictions have been largely removed, we were able to build upon and continue to grow sales. All areas of our store remained strong, but it was particularly pleasing to see fuel volumes and footfall levels return to pre-covid levels.
We were extremely proud to have picked up several UK awards this year but we were particularly delighted to have won the Neighbourhood Retailer Of The Year Award. It was a great achievement for our staff and a huge morale boost to our team.
With the outbreak of the war in Ukraine it certainly brought its economic challenges. Fuel prices increased to unprecedented levels and whilst fuel prices have largely returned to pre-war levels, the oil markets still remain volatile and I expect this to be an ongoing problem in 2023 with the Russian Oil import ban putting pressure on worldwide supplies.
Energy costs have more than doubled, although the recent energy relief scheme is a welcome help to all business, the future remains uncertain once this scheme ends in March. Inflation has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds, with wholesale prices changing on an almost weekly basis. This has been particularly challenging in maintaining our margins in our food to go.
Labour shortages in general have seemed to affect every sector of business and not just retailing. Attracting and retaining staff is key to moving forward.
We believe that in all challenges lies opportunities. We have been forced to adapt and ultimately, we feel we are in a stronger position now going forward than before. Rising energy costs have forced us to become more efficient in everything we do and we are currently looking into the installation of solar panels.
We have introduced new technology to our store throughout 2022. The installation of self checkouts has been a huge success in our store and we also introduced digital shelf edge labels which really improves staff efficiency and accuracy of pricing. In 2023 we aim to be at the forefront of new technology and will be among the first independent retailers within the Henderson Group to introduce a new automated ordering system for our store.
We expect customers to put a strong emphasis on value next year and it will be important to be able to drive that value message within store whilst offering great customer service. With all the economic uncertainty it will be challenging to hit our KPI’s in 2023 but we look forward to continuing to adapt and innovate in order to improve and grow our business.
TO READ JONATHAN’S INDUSTRY COMMENT IN THE 2023 NEIGHBOURHOOD RETAILER YEARBOOK, CLICK HERE