Filan’s Centra Castle Street, Sligo, redefines food offering

Filan’s Centra Castle Street, Sligo, has revamped its store to the new Centra ‘Hi-Convenience’ brand format and is reaping the rewards.

Owned by Geraldine and Finbarr Filan, Filan’s Centra is an established 2,228sq ft store that has prided itself on serving the people of Sligo for three generations. However, due to the increased food offering in Sligo, it was noticing an erosion in food sales, although still seeing loyal customers visit the store. “We realised that to continue trading into the fourth generation our store would need to redefine its offering,” recall the Filans.

In late 2016, the retailer visited the new flagship Centra Hi-Convenience store in O’Connell Street, Limerick, and signed up to the Centra revamp process, recognising the offering would resonate with Castle Street shoppers.

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The aim was to deliver a best in class food offer to attract new customers and offer existing shoppers more choices. The focus would be firmly on fresh with new Mex A Go and Moo’d ice cream concepts plus a gourmet deli. According to Filan’s Centra, there were four clear objectives for the revamp: to step change the consumer’s view of Centra in Sligo, encourage existing shoppers to spend more, attract new customers and deliver profitable sales.

Filan’s Centra’s action plan for the revamp spanned four key areas: products & services, people & behaviours, environment and communications.

In terms of products and services, the vision for Centra Castle Street was to become a destination for great coffee, food and ice cream. The new Frank & Honest Coffee, Moo’d Ice Cream and Mex A Go brands were added to the mix. A self service hot food bar - a first for Sligo - was also introduced. The offer is changed throughout the day and allows customers to help themselves. The upstairs of the shop was converted to a bright and airy sit down area, encouraging customers to linger just a little longer with free Wi-FI and phone charging.

The store environment in Centra Castle Street strongly reflects the new Live Every Day Centra brand positioning. It is inviting and focused on delivering an exceptional food experience that is ‘best in class in Ireland’. The deli counter is at the heart of the store, while the extensive off-licence is also a key customer draw. The seating area is fresh, modern and inviting and has been a big hit with customers, Filan’s Centra reports.

Good customer service is in the DNA of the store. Filan’s Centra is passionate about delivering the best for its customers and it prides itself that it knows 90% of them who return on a daily basis. As part of the revamp, the store underwent further I-Care training to continue to strive for perfection. Its people mantra is to be a passionate, energetic and welcoming team, which constantly delivers the best quality food and care for its customers.

Employees were engaged via ‘store safaris’ and in-store workshops. Training needs were assessed and a comprehensive food and service training programme was introduced along with a Diploma in Retail Management. Performance was measured and recognised by mystery shopper reports with rewards for service excellence.

The Centra Live Every day ethos is strongly reflected in the in-store communications via tone of voice and simple, no nonsense signage. The key focus is to allow the food to speak for itself. In addition to store-based communications, Filan’s Centra is closely linked to the local community via sponsorships of local teams and groups. It is also a strong user of social media such as Facebook, which it uses to regularly communicate with the community.

The feedback is uber positive too with five out of five stars for its Facebook reviews and great praise for the new look shop, great deli selection and friendly and helpful staff. The store achieves consistent scores of over 94% in Mystery Shopper surveys with reports rating the Castle Street for its clean and tidy environment, well stocked offer and friendly and efficient service.

The results? Following the revamp the customer count is up 2% and the margin growth has improved by an impressive 4.1% to 30%.

Filan’s Centra in Castle Street is leading the way in convenience retail in Sligo and beyond. In November 2017 it was awarded the Grand Prix in the Irish C-Store awards, a testament to the changes it has implemented. Customer service continues to be a driving force to success, however. The revamp has future proofed the business - the future for Filan’s Castle Street is bright and in a position to pass the mantle onto a fourth generation of Filans.

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