Centra Dame Street, Dublin, revamps to meet customer needs

Centra Dame Street, Dublin, opened in July 2013 by owners Paul and Ger Thornton, has repositioned its business to remain relevant to customers. The Dublin food market was developing at rapid pace. The post recession consumer no longer viewed Centra as delivering a credible food offering and the store was losing ground to competitors and not attracting the more lucrative premium, professional customer. Occupying 2,228sq ft, the store is in a high footfall location, serving 13,067 customers per week prior to its revamp.

In late 2015 Centra showcased the new brand proposition developed to deliver its 2018 vision of a ‘hi-convenience’ format. The challenge was set to Paul and his team to take the best of what was on offer in the new Centra brand proposition and apply it to Centra Dame Street, one of the busiest streets in the city of Dublin.

Due to the fierce level of competition, the revamp of the store would need to work across all elements of the consumer offering including coffee, food, services, people, store environment and communications.

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The revamp began on the 18 July 2016 and was completed 12 weeks later on 3 October.

It had three main objectives: to step change the consumer view of Centra in Dublin, attract new customers and deliver profitable sales.

Paul and the team developed their Dame Street strategy across four key areas: products & services, people & behaviours, environment and communications.

In terms of products and services, the vision for Centra Dame Street was to become a destination for great coffee, have a fresh and healthy food offer plus a sit down area to maximise the premium professional and health and wellbeing shoppers’ spend. In the Cafe that meant delivering a best in class offering with the first Frank & Honest Cafe in Ireland, a bean to cup and barista coffee offer plus premium accompaniments. The Kitchen, meanwhile, celebrates food with new ranges, freshly made in-store; day part solutions and qualified and knowledgeable staff. New fresh and tasty food ranges are freshly prepared each morning including salads, juices, snacks and breakfast options with ‘live well’ healthier fresh and ambient options incorporated across the store.

The store environment in Centra Dame Street strongly reflects the new ‘Live Every Day’ brand positioning. It is inviting and focused on delivering an exceptional coffee and food experience that is sought after by the cosmopolitan Dublin consumer. The exterior and entrance is open and inviting with a fresh and modern city feel and windows that allow a complete view from the street. Inside, the deli counters celebrate food with improved displays, digital menu boards and a wide range of healthy choices.

The decor is contemporary, fresh and urban with a natural colour palette, understated plywood accents, stylish tiles and dynamic lighting. It comes together to create a trendy and inviting store, offering free Wi-Fi and phone charging, which encourages customers to linger, either singly or in groups.

For the people and behaviours pillar, Centra Dame Street was determined that the store delivered the best quality fresh food and healthy choices through a passionate, energetic and welcoming team. From the barista to the kitchen to the checkouts, the store determined to be a hub of activity and energy throughout the day.

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

The store is supported by Centra’s Live Every Day brand communications platform, launched in June 2016. According to Centra Dame Street, it set the Centra brand on a new and exciting trajectory on a national level. The Live Every Day ethos is strongly reflected in the in-store communications: the tone of voice is positive and ‘no nonsense’; the photography is emotive and energetic; the colour scheme is fresh and modern and deploys confident, mature fonts; while the signage is clear and to the point and designed to guide and inform, harmonizing with the food.

Critically, customers love the new look, rating it 4.9 out of 5 on Facebook. They rated the shop, great staff, the deli, cafe and said it offered the best coffee in Dublin.

Mystery shopper feedback, meanwhile, reported on impressive efficiency in a very busy store, a great deli experience, strong product range that was well presented and a polite and customer centric service.

That’s all translated into positive results too. The customer count in 2017 was up 10.3% with a 5.3% increase in the average spend, 17.1% sales growth and 30% increase in gross profit. Further, Centra Dame Street was the winner of the Centra Hi-Convenience Store of the Year 2017.

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