Tirlán store of the future debuts in Bunclody

Tirlán CountryLife Bunclody is proud to be the trailblazer when it comes to the new store redesign across the business’s 52 branch network. Tirlán’s first concept store is now open and welcomed The Hardware Journal for the grand tour.

Photograph: Patrick Browne

When the team at Tirlán CountryLife in Bunclody, Wexford, got word that they were to be the pilot branch for an extensive store investment programme by Tirlán, the excitement was palpable. It’s always an honour to be first, but this was an extra-special opportunity given the recent ownership model change back to a fully farmer owned co-operative.

As part of its new branding, Tirlán, formerly Glanbia Ireland, has embarked on an €11 million+ phase 1 investment programme to upgrade the local branch network. When all phases are complete, every one of its 52 retail outlets will offer an enhanced customer and staff experience.

Tirlán plans to carry out the development of its total retail estate over the next four-five years, which will result in a completely new-look network.

Work is already underway in several stores. But only one can be first past the post, and Tirlán CountryLife in Bunclody was the happy recipient. Following just over three months of renovation works, the project was completed in April this year, and staff and customers are delighted with the result.

For the future of our communities
For Tirlán, as an Irish 100% farmer-owned Co-op, this landmark investment programme is part of a range of measures to future-proof its agri, retail and garden centre services in rural communities across 12 counties.

Speaking to The Hardware Journal at the Bunclody store, Senan Foley, Head of Retail at Tirlán says, “These branch improvements across all 52 stores are a further sign of Tirlán’s commitment to serving its loyal customers in rural communities today and, in a climate of change, tomorrow.”

“This major investment clearly demonstrates our promise to play a key role in supporting local jobs and rural economies.” Tirlán has outlined this commitment in its ‘Living Proof’ sustainability strategy.

“Because the needs of farmers, customers and the communities of which we are part of are evolving, Tirlán wanted to create a modern network of stores that meet current and future demands,” explains Senan.

“Many rural communities have lost their local post office, shops and other services in recent years and we aim to play our part in ensuring they remain vibrant and self-sufficient.” “Our network provides critical services in a setting that many of our shareholders, suppliers and customers have a strong affiliation with locally.”

Flexibility was built into the store signage set-up. Simple elements such
as the use of magnetic aisle end signage, bench strip sliders, hooks for
category aisle headers, floor display signage solutions and pallet displays
amongst others; all accommodate for the ease of stock and display
movement required for seasonal or stock changes. The store fit out was
supplied by Cork based company Storefit Shopfitters, www.storefit.ie.

“Tirlán generates €5.5 billion of total economic activity in Ireland and supports over 19,200 direct and indirect jobs; so, as a business we’re a significant driver of economic activity in rural localities. With that contribution to rural economies in mind, each of our branches plays an important part in our wider business as the hub and face of Tirlán in 52 communities. So much more than just agri stores and garden centres.”

Brand new
Last year, following the change in ownership structure, the corporate business rebranded from Glanbia Ireland to Tirlán. The new name reflects the Irish heritage and deep connection between the Co-op, its people and the land they nurture and sustain, combining Tir, the Irish for land, and Lán, Irish for full. Together it means Land of Abundance.

The rebranding of stores is well underway and due for completion later this year. Retail stores within the estate that primarily offer an agricultural product range are being rebranded to ‘Tirlán FarmLife’. While branches with an added garden centre and broader retail offering are operating under the name ‘Tirlán CountryLife’.

Bunclody sets the template
“As the business’s new concept store, Bunclody acts as a design template and test store for all Tirlan CountryLife retail outlets,” Senan states.

“The insights we gain from the customer experiences in Bunclody will ensure we can bring consistency and high standards across the board, to meet the expectations of all our customers.”

Creating an attractive, inviting, modern, easy-to-shop ambience was vital. “Every Tirlán CountryLife or FarmLife store should be a place where customers feel at home, can easily find their way around and be guided to the products they want by knowledgeable staff.”

The creation of a consistent store idea was vital for meeting customer expectations. So, when shoppers see the brand name at the entrance, they can be confident they will have a good experience.

Evoking the Irish landscape
“The atmosphere is open, natural and relaxing, using the materials and colours of the Irish countryside,” says Bunclody Branch Manager Mark Morrissey. “The second customers walk inside; they will know they are in a Tirlán store.”

Senan says, “Our new design concept has taken inspiration from the genesis of the Tirlán brand; using organic materials throughout the store, including moss, wood and stone.” The simple colour palette, with its touch of green throughout, adds emphasis and creates contrast in a way unique to Tirlán and its branding.

Everything was carefully considered in the completion of the Bunclody concept store, from lighting fixtures and floors to counter tills and shelving.

Infrastructural changes and other functional improvements were also completed, including IT systems, new electric doors, a high efficiency heating system, rewiring of the premises and an upgrade to staff facilities.

The store in Bunclody stayed open for business throughout the renovation work, and Senan has high praise for the flexibility of both staff and customers.

L-R Jean Colleran Horticulture Growth Manager, Ben Furney Senior
Operations Manager, Senan Foley Head of Retail, Grace O’Dwyer Retail
Marketing Manager, Robert Kehoe Growth Development Manager.

“Special mention must go to Manager Mark Morrissey and the whole Bunclody team who have displayed huge enthusiasm for the pilot project. Despite all the upheaval to the premises over recent months, they continued to trade throughout the works, and customer satisfaction remained high as they looked
forward to the new store.” said Senan.

Coffee with your climbing roses?
Bunclody is also the first branch to have a coffee dock, where gardening customers can enjoy a cuppa while browsing instore.

This amenity, also being trialled, is part of the retail store development team’s masterplan to expand the product and service offering and create a ‘Store of Abundance’ in every way.

Delighted and excited all round
All involved are thrilled with the new-look in Bunclody’s Tirlán CountryLife store and the impact it has had already, especially with the customers.

Mark Morrissey shared the local enthusiasm. “The work completed has brought a huge wave of positive energy around the place; not only from customers but from staff too.” “We’re seeing lots of new faces come through our doors, and customers have been really complimentary of the work, even noting what it means for the community to have this investment locally. The future is bright here in Tirlán CountryLife.”

Senan was equally impressed by how well the new format is working and the reception the store has received from local people. “It’s early days, but we are already learning a lot from this concept trial store. Key findings, including customer feedback, will inform future store developments.”

Deep local roots
Local connections and heritage are at the heart of the Tirlán ethos.

“Connecting back to our roots, which is such a strong part of the Tirlán brand, was really important to us. Our branches are often situated on the very land where our forefathers first traded,” notes Senan.

A dedicated history wall towards the farmer entrance of the store, charting
both Tirlán’s and the Bunclody’s branch history

To highlight this strong relationship with rural communities, the Bunclody store features a dedicated history wall charting the Tirlán journey over the last 100 years, together with the store’s local history.

A community notice board highlights how the store supports today’s local people, places and activities. Every branch will have these features as part of their store upgrade. As Mark tells the THJ, “Tirlán’s branches are often the heartbeat of local communities. Here in Bunclody we’re actively supporting our Tidy Towns group, along with regular support and education for primary schools in this area, particularly around the garden centre and links to biodiversity.”

“We’re on first name terms with many of our customers; both farming and garden centre store visitors. You can’t underestimate how important that connection is.”

More in store to watch out for
In addition to the store redesigns, the farmer owned co-operative has plans to add Tirlán CountryLife Garden Centres to some of its existing branches. Their store in Athboy, Meath, now boasts a brand-new garden centre just in time for summer, and firmly establishes Tirlán CountryLife as one of the largest chains of garden centres in the country. On the Tirlán FarmLife side, the team are exploring new innovations such as centres of excellence in the area of farm hardware, along with further exciting projects in the pipeline.

The rejuvenated Bunclody garden centre, featuring new signage
solutions and the Tirlán CountryLife’s new consumer message
‘Gardens. Our Second Nature’.