Retail Execution in Ireland – Gordon Neil, Development Director, McCurrach

McCurrach Development Director, Gordon Neil shares his insight into the stark differences between the UK and Ireland FMCG retail market, and gives us some tips on how he thinks both field marketing agencies and suppliers should think about Ireland.  

“I thought it would be good to talk about retail execution in Ireland because, given that I operate across both markets I’m often asked if a similar approach can be applied. Often,I find that people are under the misapprehension that the retail markets in both regions are very similar, but that’s just not the case in my experience. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that they’re entirely different and small similarities are few and far between, with the notable exception of some recognisable retailer brands. So why the big difference?

For a start, in general the Irish retailers are far more entrepreneurial. This may not be surprising if you know that the market has a high proportion of franchise and independent retail, but likewise a significant part of the retail market is also comprised of ‘multiples’. Their ability to change tack rapidly is streets ahead of the UK, which is great when you’re seeking to go the extra mile in-store, however, there is a downside for manufacturers as well.

This lies in the fact that the combination of the retail model and entrepreneurial spirit makes it much harder to achieve consistent brand execution across the market.  Our insights really demonstrate the scale of the gap, and the opportunity. For example, promotional compliance, hovers around the 75% mark in Ireland – whilst a comparable figure in the UK would be over 90%. It’s also worth noting that this level of execution is after field sales teams have pre-sold and intervened in-store.  You may recall I wrote previously about compliance levels in the UK as being circa 50% for off-gondola promotions that had no field intervention, so you can imagine how potentially large this gap could be. The numbers look similar when we look at speed of implementation. For NPD and range reviews, Ireland runs at an implementation level that’s 15% lower than the UK on average.

It’s obvious that field sales plays a vital role in driving execution in Ireland; and I’d even go as far as to say that I think this is even more critical in Ireland than it is in the UK, given the structure of the market, the size of the execution gap and the entrepreneurial nature of the retailers. One thing is for certain… a one size fits all approach won’t work when it comes to retail execution in the UK and Ireland markets. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because it’s a market within touching distance of the UK it must be similar; that couldn’t be further from the truth.

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