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Q&A: Paul Foley, The Corkscrew Wine Merchants

The Corkscrew was originally opened by Peter Foley in 1978 on Aughrim Street. With over 40 years of experience in the wine trade, Peter had managed the Irish division of the prominent Berry Bros and Rudd Wine Merchants. However, when Berry’s closed in their ideal city centre location there was an obvious gap in the market. Peter and his son, Paul, instantly noticed this and set about finding a centrally located shop to sell high quality wines to the public.

The Corkscrew as we now know it first opened in Chatham Street on March 24th, 2004, and boasts a huge selection of quality wines that offer individuality and value. Over the years it has grown from strength to strength, primarily down to excellent customer service and the extensive wine knowledge of the staff, and recently attracting investment leading the expansion of the shop to include a new event space.

Today Paul Foley continues to manage and own The Corkscrew and is as passionate about all things wine as he was 15 years ago, so we decided to have a chat with him about wine culture in Ireland and the new event space.

Food for Thought – FFT.ie: How have you seen the business change over the years?
Paul Foley: People are more specific about what they want from a wine as they are more informed. Price is no longer the primary focus – people are willing to spend a little more to get exactly what they want.

What challenges does your business face now?
Finding the right staff and hanging on to them, although we seem to have cracked that now!

Tell us about the new event space? Who will use it?
Upstairs at No.4 is a new, versatile private venue that can only be described as the epitome of luxury. From its beautiful dark wooden ceilings, hand-cut Italian porcelain table tops, leather chairs with Italian brass legs to its full-size professional kitchen, this state of the art venue is suitable for all occasions and is ideal for those looking for somewhere to host corporate events, or private functions. The potential is limitless!

Where did the investment come from and what has it allowed you to do? 
We sought private investment and it has allowed us to open up the new event space, Upstairs at No.4. It has also allowed us to invest in the right type of stock.

What makes your offering unique?
Our shop has over 1000 labels from more than 30 countries to choose from, and expert staff to guide you through all of them. We also have our very unique space, Upstairs at No.4, which allows our customers take part in wine tastings / dinners / course private events etc.

Do you also supply businesses?
We have a wholesale side to the operation and deal with many of Ireland’s leading restaurants and hotels.

Who are your main customers in Ireland?
Anyone who likes to drink quality wine!

What do you think of the wine industry in Ireland at the moment?
It’s very positive in my opinion. People are willing to spend more and are interested in the story behind the wine and learning. On the negative side, our duties on wine remain one of the highest in Europe and therefore sometimes the prices in Ireland can appear very high.

What future plans are there for the business?
Possibly open up a few more stores. There are also a few other ideas that are in development stages that we can’t talk about yet!

What are the pros and cons of a family-run business?
Doing it for yourself. You are never free from it.

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Encircle 360 Ltd T/A Food for Thought - FFT.ie, 59 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, Ireland.

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