Member-Centric Strategy at United Hardware Group

Thomas Burke, Director, Retail Ireland, Patrick Cassidy, CEO, United Hardware
Group, and John Carroll, Managing Director, Axium Buying Group & CarePlus

The turnover of United Hardware Group, one of Ireland’s leading hardware, DIY and homeware groups, reached over €145 million in 2018 (up 14% on 2017: €127.3m). This was on the back of a successful “member-centric” strategy to grow sales, create a  sustainable future for the Group and enhance services to the Group’s members, delegates were told at a major conference on “The Future of Independents & Buying Groups in Ireland”, hosted by United Hardware. Attended by over 300 independent hardware retailers
and major industry suppliers, speakers at the conference included Damien English, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, Economist David McWilliams, John Carroll, Managing Director, Axium Buying Group & CarePlus Pharmacy, Peter Kealy, Managing Director of Positive Retail Options, Thomas Burke, Director of Retail Ireland and former
Bearings Bank trader, Nick Leeson.

Speaking at the conference Patrick Cassidy, CEO of United Hardware Group, said the Group had recorded a turnover of over €145 million in 2018, compared to a low of €87 million in 2013. While the Group is projecting considerable additional growth in 2019 Cassidy highlighted that lessons from the past show the sector’s exposure to the property and construction industries, as well as changing consumer trends and sentiment.

“Our sector continues to undergo unprecedented change and disruption, and competition is intensifying from both online and large retail chains. It is becoming virtually impossible for independent retailers to go it alone however they can thrive within progressive buying groups that help retailers compete through innovative products, competitive pricing, strong retail brands and a compelling customer proposition and retail experience.”

Cassidy also noted that Brexit had the potential to disrupt the supply of certain building materials from the UK, potentially increasing the cost of building materials and impacting the rate of construction activity across Ireland. “In addition to the threat of increased trade levies post Brexit, the European regulation of construction materials means that there could also be a significant supply disruption to any UK products that do not obtain the  correct certification standards to be traded across Europe.”

Established in the face of significant economic challenges by members of two separate buying groups in 2007, United Hardware Group’s members primarily trade under the Homevalue brand. In 2016, CEO Patrick Cassidy launched a strategy to position United Hardware as one of Ireland’s leading hardware, DIY and homeware groups, which has
seen the group undertake significant investment in facilities, technology, branding, innovation and member recruitment, as well as driving efficiencies at operational improvement.

The Group currently has over 150 retail locations nationwide and a membership with a turnover in excess of €400 million.