Business Profiles

How Kerrigan’s Butchers is Adapting to a Changed Economy

With a 45-year history across Dublin, this award-winning business has transformed the appeal of the butchers in recent years by becoming more conscious of time-poor, health-conscious families.

Kerrigan’s has taken the traditional craft of butchery into the 21st century with online delivery to 32 counties, healthy ready meals, themed meat bundles and a sub-fitness brand focusing on protein-rich meats and meal inspiration.

With Coronavirus impacting retail – both how in the public shop and what we are shopping for – we caught up with managing director Barry Kerrigan to see how he has been reacting to changes.

FFT.ie: What have you changed to adapt to the lockdown?
Barry Kerrigan: We’re incredibly lucky that we are classed as an essential service and that business has been able to continue somewhat normally for us. We have three physical stores across Dublin and an online shop delivering to 32 counties and all are running to support consumers as best we can.

When it comes to our staff, we have provided them with face masks, face visors and any member of the team who can work from home is doing so. We also decided to award the full team with an additional fully paid day off and vouchers as a show of gratitude for their hard work during this period.

Both in our physical stores and at our headquarters, we’ve reduced the amount of staff in all areas to ensure employees feel safe at work and customers feel safe to shop. We’re allowing only a limited number of customers into the store at any time, while also using a marking system to show people where to stand while queuing and shopping. We have installed Perspex panels between our staff and customers at the checkout areas and we provide hand sanitiser and gloves on entry.

Our customers have been incredibly patient and respectful and we really appreciate how well they have adapted too. Of course, lots of our plans for 2020 are now on hold. We do a lot of events especially in summer such as parties and festivals with our mobile grill so they are all off the cards and we’ll be looking at ways to recover in Q4, if guidelines on certain gatherings are lifted.

Are you still as busy since you changed the way you do business?
Yes, we’ve been performing really well since 13th March and will continue to adapt as we need to to ensure we can provide a safe service to customers. As a food business, we’re essential and we don’t take this for granted. It is so important to us that customers feel safe – both when in-store and in that they do not need to worry about access to supplies.

How quickly did you adapt?
Being a small business is definitely an advantage when implementing new processes. Of course, this was a level of changes we hadn’t experienced before and with the uncertainty in the beginning, it could have been much more difficult than it was.

Given that hygiene has always been imperative to the success of our business, we’ve always appreciated and implemented safety measures to the highest level, adapting to changes as they happen. This time was like any other, we rallied together as a team and started with a planning meeting. We allocated responsibilities, briefed everyone, made necessary purchases and only opened when we knew we were fully compliant with guidelines.

What do you think the new normal will be?
It’s hard to tell, given we’ve never experienced anything like this before. From a practical point of view, I think it’s possible that distancing measures will apply to retail settings for quite some time. We would be more than happy to adhere to that to ensure that we make customers and staff feel safe. When it comes to consumer habits, the last few weeks have impacted how we shop and that could result in a permanent shift in consumer behaviour. For instance, our delivery sales have increased hugely right across the country, both with existing and new customers. We’re seeing more and more families placing orders for our meat bundles and the feedback has been excellent. Our fakeaways are proving really popular as people look for an alternative to their local takeaway which may be closed.

It’s quite possible that customers who experience the value and convenience of our online product will remain customers. People are cooking more at home and realising they have a knack for it or that it saves them money. This poses lots of opportunity for us as a business and as we return to normality, we will be monitoring sales levels and audiences closely to tap into new behaviours and innovate our offering where we can.

What do you think the Government should do to help businesses?
The Government has been fantastic – from a communication point of view in the early stages, advising essential businesses on distancing measures and the new grants. Alongside the support of the Government, what’s also become apparent is the strength of Irish founders. Many businesses don’t feel that they need the support available just yet as they have instead switched on their creativity and relied on their entrepreneurial skills to keep revenue coming in. It’s really inspirational to see this resilience play out.

What would you advise similar businesses to do?
Ask yourself, how can you be of real value to consumers right now? Think outside the box but don’t rush into an idea so you can truly own your ideas and get it right.

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