Aoife Kinsella talks success with Barry Thornton and Gary Ryan from Murdock Builders Merchants at the recently opened Finglas store.
Since its grand opening on July 15th, Murdock Builders Merchants’ newest branch in Finglas has been going from strength to strength. Such a successful start is down to a dream combination: convenient location on the busy St Margaret’s Road, a dedicated team, and impressive range and merchandising.
Entering the store, I was struck by the large area dedicated to DIY, as well as the extensive product displays including Timber, Workwear and Hardware. The trade counter was bustling, with assistants attending to customers in person and by phone. Clearly, business is brisk and the friendly, efficient staff are well able to cope.
Barry Thornton, Managing Director for the group’s ROI branches, and Branch Manager Gary Ryan gave me the grand tour and a bit of history.
Expanding into Dublin
Murdock Builders Merchants is a well-established name in this sector. The original branch opened in Newry in 1982, followed in 2006 by the first Dublin-area store in Balbriggan.
Finglas marks their fourth Dublin outlet, with stores also in Ballymount and Kilbarrack.
Thornton reports that development plans for the Republic of Ireland are well underway. “My job is to lead our expansion into Dublin in the years to come; our new branch in Finglas is key to this growth. A Bray branch is due to open next year.”
More space to succeed
As Branch Manager for both Finglas and Kilbarrack (opened late 2017) stores, Ryan divides his time between locations.
In the Finglas branch alone, his day-to-day activities include greeting customers, liaising with suppliers and supporting 14 full-time staff.
Based on his experience managing two premises, Ryan is upbeat about the results to date. “Finglas has been a great success since we opened, and last year Kilbarrack expanded to include a large range of specialist civils products that service the entire Dublin region.”
The Finglas site spans over an acre. Its warehouse alone covers 1500 square metres. To double the yard area, Murdock’s acquired land from the adjacent Manhattan Peanuts plant. “If we had not made more space, it would have been very difficult to manage operationally”, explains Ryan.
An exceptional team
The Finglas team consists of experienced employees relocating from the Kilbarrack and Balbriggan stores, as well as from local competitors. In just a few weeks the staff have settled into their new surroundings and already made a lasting impression on management.
High praise from Ryan: “We are delighted with the team as they are very experienced and already there is a fantastic spirit”.
As a group, Murdock Builders Merchants employ 450 in Ireland, 80 within the Dublin area.
Murdock’s takes real pride in rewarding the hard work and commitment of their people, Thornton tells me. “Despite our size we remain a family business and have a very loyal staff, many long-serving. We have an annual lunch to recognise those with 20 and 30 years’ service; every year there’s more at it.”
Gary Ryan is among these veteran employees, having started in 1986. When it comes to recruitment, Thornton emphasises that good customer service is a primary focus and a sought after quality in all their staff. “We look for people who enjoy customer interaction, regardless of the job they are applying for. As we always say, everyone in Murdock’s is
part of the customer service team.”
Location location location
While both trade and DIY customers are welcome, trade customers provide the lion’s share of Murdock’s business. However, due to its busy location near Lidl and Aldi, Thornton and Ryan expect DIY business to thrive in the Finglas branch.
The McKee Avenue location was a major factor in the decision-making and planning process. According to Ryan, “We are only five minutes from the M50 which is great. Many of our customers who use the M50 to get to their jobs are taking advantage; calling in early to get whatever they need for the day”.
Customer-centred store layout
To accommodate increased activity in the DIY market, space allocation has been adapted. “The store layout is similar to other Murdock’s branches, but our shop has dedicated more space than normal which has been well received by customers”, explains Ryan.
As well as selling standard building materials and timber, Finglas also focuses on more specialist materials such as roof trusses, bespoke machined timber and civils products. Ryan notes, “They are performing very well for us as we continue to build our reputation as specialists in these products in Dublin”.
Added buying power
Asked about the branch’s affiliation with the Murdock Group’s wider network, Ryan couldn’t be more complimentary. “Being part of the Murdock Group is great. Murdock’s are one of the largest independent chains of Builders Merchants on the island of Ireland which gives us great scale.”
Thornton then detailed how being part of Fortis, the UK’s leading independent merchant buying group, gives Murdock Group additional buying power and position in the sector, “and the ability to source specialist products for our customers”.
“We also work closely with our sister timber companies that import timber, manufacture roof trusses and bespoke machined timber.”
Giving back to the community
Only a few months up and running, yet the Finglas branch already feels like a thriving part of the community, thanks to its dedicated team, loyal customers and commitment to the
Group’s ethos of local community support and involvement. “Here in Finglas we’re sponsoring the McKelvey Football Club,” says Ryan. “And, as a Group, we are committed to
giving back to the communities that have supported all our branches over the years.”
Confident about the future
When it comes to surviving uncertain times ahead, Ryan and Thornton stressed the importance of customer service. “Looking after our customers is vital to survival in this
business,” Ryan affirms. “Our customers are very loyal to us because of this service.”
The recession acted as a stark reminder of the importance of customer engagement and loyalty, motivating Murdock’s to enlarge their range to include more specialist products.
The looming Brexit verdict will present more unknown possibilities. But Thornton remains optimistic. “Obviously, like everyone else, we hope there will not be a No-deal Brexit in October. However, given the scale of our group, we know that we will adapt to whatever the eventual outcome is and continue to give our customers top class service.”
Indeed the future is looking bright for both the Finglas store and Murdock Group, with expected growth in the construction trade and a loyal and expanding customer base.