circle K Europe

Circle K Champions Local Irish Goods

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Updated on March 20, 2024

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In Circle K’s dance with the burgeoning demand for local Irish goods, it’s apparent that a strategic shift is underway. The global chain, usually associated with typical convenience store offerings, is now placing a significant focus on championing Irish products.

This intriguing move isn’t merely about diversifying inventory; it’s an insightful response to consumer preferences, a nod to environmental consciousness, and an investment in local economies. But how does this strategy affect Circle K’s bottom line and what does it mean for the future of retail? Let’s explore.

Understanding Circle K

httpss://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_kk60TR938

Diving into the world of this company, one discovers a colossal French-Canadian retail giant, known as Couche-Tard, operating an impressive network of approximately 15,000 stores worldwide with a unique philosophy of valuing the opinions of every staff member, irrespective of their level within the organization. This philosophy is reflected in their commitment to local sourcing and fostering community partnerships.

Circle K’s strategy prioritizes sourcing products locally, boosting regional economies while ensuring freshness and quality. Their stores become microcosms of the communities they serve, catering to local tastes, needs, and values. By partnering with local suppliers and producers, they’re not just selling products, but nurturing connections, promoting sustainability, and investing in the welfare of the community.

The company’s approach reflects a nuanced understanding of retail’s broader role in society.

Unpacking Customer Trends

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In the evolving landscape of retail, Circle K has tapped into changing customer trends, prioritizing quality, speed, and convenience to drive customer loyalty.

Customer preferences, revealed through meticulous market research, have increasingly favored local sourcing, prompting Circle K to adjust their product offerings accordingly. This shift not only bolsters the local economy but also aligns with the societal move towards sustainability.

The company recognizes that consumers are more discerning, valuing not just the products they purchase but also their origin. By ensuring its offerings are locally sourced, Circle K is attuned to this trend, thus enhancing customer satisfaction.

This strategic approach illustrates Circle K’s commitment to staying ahead of customer trends and delivering products that meet and exceed expectations.

Importance of Customer Feedback

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Harnessing the power of customer feedback, Circle K has managed to fine-tune its offerings and services, demonstrating a keen understanding of changing consumer needs and trends. This feedback has been integral to the company’s product development, driving the creation of offerings that resonate with consumers and increase customer satisfaction.

Circle K’s proactive approach to incorporating feedback highlights the company’s commitment to delivering a superior customer experience. By listening to their customers, they’ve been able to anticipate and respond to shifts in consumer behavior swiftly and effectively. This strategy not only fosters loyalty but also positions the company as a responsive and forward-thinking retailer.

Ultimately, customer feedback serves as an invaluable tool in Circle K’s continuous endeavor to improve and innovate.

Sustainability in Food Offerings

With sustainability at the forefront of their corporate values, Circle K has been prioritizing local sourcing and offering quality products from nearby suppliers in their food offerings. This approach not only bolsters local economies but also significantly reduces environmental impact, ensuring a smaller carbon footprint by cutting down on long-distance transportation.

Their commitment to local sourcing also guarantees fresher products, thereby enhancing customer satisfaction. The company’s sustainability efforts extend beyond sourcing, as they also focus on reducing waste and optimizing energy use in their stores. Such strategies reflect a deep understanding of the evolving customer mindset, where quality, convenience, and environmental consciousness are key.

Marketing Success Stories

Circle K’s marketing strategies have certainly hit the mark, notably their successful coffee campaign which led to remarkable sales increases and improved customer satisfaction.

This campaign brilliantly embodied the cultural impact of coffee in Irish society, translating consumer preferences into a lucrative business strategy. It displayed a profound understanding of the local market, thus driving economic growth.

Moreover, the campaign also exhibited Circle K’s ability to adapt to changing consumer trends and demands. It was a masterstroke of marketing, aligning the company’s offering with the cultural nuances and economic realities of the Irish market.

This success story underscores the importance of responsive and informed marketing strategies in shaping consumer behavior and driving sales growth.

Circle K’s Expansion Goals

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Amidst the dynamic retail landscape, there’s a clear focus on growth and expansion at Circle K, with plans in place to open an additional 350 stores across Europe. This ambitious expansion strategy hinges on nurturing local partnerships and fostering supplier relationships to ensure a smooth, efficient rollout.

At the heart of their plan is a commitment to community engagement. Circle K understands that each new store isn’t just a point of sale, but a part of the local fabric. They’re not merely expanding their footprint, they’re embedding themselves in new communities, becoming contributors to local economies and supporters of local producers.

It’s clear that Circle K’s expansion isn’t about growth for growth’s sake; it’s a thoughtful, strategic initiative that values local partnerships and community ties.

Promoting Irish Local Goods

As part of its strategic expansion and commitment to local economies, Circle K is actively championing Irish goods within its stores. This move advances both community support and economic growth, fostering a strong connection with the Irish populace.

Offering a platform for cultural representation, Circle K curates a selection of locally-sourced products, thus enriching its assortment and catering to evolving consumer preferences. These initiatives, coupled with tailored promotions of Irish goods, affirm Circle K’s stance on bolstering local industries.

Moreover, it further cements customer loyalty, as individuals often lean towards businesses that uplift their community. Indeed, Circle K’s well-structured promotion of Irish local goods showcases its dedication to community growth and a culturally representative product range.

Impact on Local Economy

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Promoting Irish goods not only strengthens Circle K’s connection with the community but also significantly bolsters the local economy. By stocking locally sourced products, the convenience store powerhouse is effectively boosting community morale and supporting artisans, a gesture that isn’t lost on the economy.

Every purchase of a local product cycles money back into the local economy, helping it to thrive. Moreover, this strategy nurtures local businesses, providing them with opportunities for growth and development. It’s a strategic move that not only benefits Circle K but also sparks economic growth. This partnership between a global entity and local businesses showcases how large retailers can play a pivotal role in fortifying the local economy.

Consumer Response to Local Products

In response to Circle K’s initiative of stocking Irish goods, consumers have shown a strong preference for these local products, underlining the success of the retailer’s local sourcing strategy. This consumer behavior reveals a growing trend towards supporting businesses that prioritize sustainability and local economies.

The positive response reflects the evolving consumer preferences towards local products, highlighting the increasing value placed on quality, freshness, and traceability. It suggests a shift in the retail landscape, where the origin of products is becoming as significant as price and convenience.

The consumer’s choices aren’t only shaping the retail offerings but also influencing larger corporate strategies. In essence, the response to Circle K’s local goods initiative underscores a profound, potentially lasting alteration in consumer behavior and market dynamics.

Future Plans for Local Goods

Building on the positive consumer response to their local goods initiative, Circle K is formulating robust plans to further incorporate Irish products into their offerings. They’re actively pursuing local partnerships and bolstering their community support efforts.

The company envisions a future where more locally-sourced items grace their shelves, thereby enriching the consumer’s shopping experience with a flavour of local heritage. Moreover, Circle K’s strategy involves moving beyond mere product inclusion. They aim to collaborate with local producers, fostering symbiotic relationships that benefit both the business and the community.

Through these partnerships, Circle K intends to strengthen the local economy, contributing to a sustainable future where Irish products aren’t just available, but celebrated. Circle K’s future undoubtedly holds a strong commitment to championing local goods.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does Circle K Ensure the Quality of Local Irish Goods They Stock in Their Stores?

Circle K ensures the quality of local Irish goods through strategic brand collaboration and supplier transparency. They’re selective about the local brands they partner with, ensuring they share the same values for quality.

Additionally, they maintain a transparent relationship with suppliers, regularly inspecting goods for quality control. This proactive approach guarantees customers always receive top-notch Irish products.

What Measures Does Circle K Take to Ensure the Freshness of the Local Goods They Offer?

To ensure the freshness of local goods they offer, Circle K implements strict supply chain transparency. They’re actively involved in every step, from sourcing to stocking.

They’ve built strong relationships with local producers, providing support and ensuring that goods are delivered fresh. Regular quality checks are also in place. This not only guarantees freshness but also bolsters the local economy.

It’s a win-win for Circle K, the producers, and the consumers.

How Does Circle K Plan to Promote and Increase Awareness About Local Irish Goods Among Its Customers?

To increase awareness of local Irish goods, Circle K’s planning numerous customer engagement strategies. They’re leveraging in-store marketing techniques like displays and promotions to highlight these items.

They’re also considering special events to introduce customers to Irish suppliers. It’s a multifaceted approach, designed to spotlight the quality and variety of homegrown products.

Ultimately, they’re dedicated to supporting local businesses and offering customers fresh, quality goods.

What Specific Local Irish Goods Does Circle K Plan to Introduce in the Future?

Circle K’s future plan for local Irish goods isn’t publicly specified yet. They’re currently in the selection process, determining which products will offer the best value. Pricing plays a critical role in this.

They’re aiming to find a balance between affordability for customers and fair compensation for local Irish producers. It’s a complex process, but they’re committed to championing Irish goods, so customers can expect more local products on Circle K shelves soon.

How Does Circle K’s Initiative of Promoting Local Irish Goods Align With Their Global Sustainability Goals?

Circle K’s promotion of local Irish goods directly addresses sustainability challenges. They’re cutting down on transportation emissions and waste, while also supporting the local economy.

By sourcing locally, they’re reducing their carbon footprint and fostering community growth. It’s a shrewd move that aligns perfectly with their global sustainability goals, showing they’re not just talk.

It’s action that benefits everyone – consumers, producers, and the planet.

Conclusion

Circle K’s commitment to championing local Irish goods sets a strong example in the retail industry. Through anticipating trends, valuing customer feedback, and prioritizing sustainability, the company not only bolsters the local economy but also meets evolving consumer demands.

As Circle K continues to expand, its focus on enhancing customer experience and investing in store improvements ensures a promising future for the brand.

Video Transcript

Speaker 1 (00:03)
Hi, I’m from Circle K in Europe, and today I’m going to talk about, Call the Irish Food and Drink, and how as a company, Circle K supports it.

Speaker 2 (00:13)
So welcome to this episode of Amazing Food and Drink TV. Today we’re with Derek Murphy, who’s Food Director of Circle K Europe. We’re going to hear a bit about Derek’s background and his company. So over to you, Derek. Welcome to Belfast.

Speaker 1 (00:29)
Thanks very much, Colin. In terms of myself, I’m a Food Director of Circle K in Europe. There’s actually two of us. I have a colleague from Estonia as well. Our job is to work and support the nine, what we call business units, so the nine countries where we work across Europe with, which is the Baltics, so Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Scandinavia, which is Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. And then we also have stores in Russia. We have quite a presence in Poland And obviously Ireland then as well, which is where I came with. In terms of myself, I’ve been in the retail industry for over 20 years, particularly focusing on food. So I’ve had my own store. I’ve been a franchisee. Very good. And I’ve just spent a lot of time from supermarkets to what we call QSRs or quick service restaurants. So fast food and then four quart as well.

Speaker 2 (01:24)
Brilliant. And in terms of Circle K, tell us a bit about it.

Speaker 1 (01:28)
Circle K is a And it’s parent company Couche d’Arde, so trading name of Couche d’Arde. And Couche d’Arde is a French Canadian company. We’re one of the biggest retailers in the world. We’ve got about 15,000 stores in total, 10,000 in North America, circa 3,000, just under 3,000 in Europe, and then another 2,000 franchise stores across 14 countries, including Asia, Mexico, places like that.

Speaker 2 (01:58)
We’ve got a lot of stores. Massive Absolutely massive. And on that point then, what’s it like running a massive company like Circle K?

Speaker 1 (02:05)
Well, I know you don’t run the whole thing. I know you don’t run the whole thing. But I’m a cog in a machine, I think, is the way to go. We’ve got a lovely philosophy as a company, where we call ourselves a family of merchants. So family of retailers. Everyone’s opinion is equally valid. And when you’re in such a huge company, that’s really important. It doesn’t matter what your level is. It doesn’t matter what part do you play in the company. If you come up with an idea, your idea gets hard. And really, you’re able to express yourself. You’re able to be free and you’re able to be open. And in a big company like ours, I think that’s really, really important.

Speaker 2 (02:42)
Yeah, very good. So it’s like a family-oriented company, even though it’s massive.

Speaker 1 (02:45)
Absolutely. Even though it’s a shareholder-owned, it’s a huge conglomerate. It’s massive. I think in terms of turnover, it’s the biggest Canadian company, so bigger than any of the banks or anything else in Canada. But it is massive company. And yet you do have that family feel there as well, where everyone- Sometimes that’s a cliché, but in this case, it’s actually true. Yeah, it’s actually true. There’s a culture around pride tours where all the senior executives will get on a plane and come visit each country once, twice a year, and they’ll go in, they’ll visit stores, they’ll talk to the staff. They ignore anybody else. They ignore us. But they’ll talk to the staff, they’ll engage with the staff. And really, it’s a really nice And the whole idea is that we’re built on our couple of hundred thousand staff we have in the stores. And then our job is to try find out what the customer trends are, what drives the customer to shop with us, and how we make the customer journey easy is the big thing. That’s our competitive advantage. Brilliant. We focus on the easy piece.

Speaker 2 (03:49)
Yeah, because we’re going to ask about that later. In terms of what’s the best bits, what’s the worst parts?

Speaker 1 (03:54)
Worst parts, aeroplanes. You never get to love it. I think love affair ended after the first flight. It was delayed and bags lost and everything else.

Speaker 2 (04:06)
And you’re based in Oslo, you were telling me?

Speaker 1 (04:08)
Desk is in Oslo, but I work across Europe. I live in Dublin, so I do travel quite a bit. That’s probably the worst bit. And the best bit is interacting with some brilliant people. We’ve got fantastic people across nine countries. And it’s really interesting people’s personalities that are based on… I’m a nature be nurture. I’m a nurture person. The way people are brought up and each country’s individual people are very different.

Speaker 2 (04:37)
And you were saying that the Baltic regions are actually quite Irish. They’re very like us. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (04:41)
I think that’s when you see the Baltics, they’re outgoing, they’re very open and they’re very much like us. And I think that’s why they integrate so well. When the guys come over here, I have a lot of friends now from Lithuania, Latvia that come over and they just integrate so well into Ireland. I think the Polish is the same. And then when you get Scandinavia, a little bit more reserved, a little bit more quieter and stuff, but still lovely people.

Speaker 2 (05:05)
Brilliant. And in terms of your customers, you mentioned your customers are making it easy for them. Have customer expectations changed over the years? If so, how?

Speaker 1 (05:14)
Positively, negatively, They I think they have. They’ve massively changed, but at its core, it’s still the same. It’s delivering quality fast is what people are after. They’re looking for easy solutions to whatever it like chose them. Our job is to guess what does the customer need? How do we make it easy for them to come in and get it? But in terms of their expectations, absolutely. I think retail is almost a microcosm of all the other stuff that goes on in the world. So when people are sitting saying, we need to focus on our environment, that’s when we don’t see our strategies necessarily because we’re just focused on making the world a better place. We’re focused on our customer who wants to make the world a better So we’re going to go on that journey with them and we’re going to bring them on the journey with us. And that’s important. So when we talk about there’s fads occur, which is, I’m going to give up gluten or I’m going to give up whatever. But then there’s actual movements where you can see people are eating less meat They’re there. These aren’t fads. These are mega trends.

Speaker 2 (06:18)
Like veganism, for example?

Speaker 1 (06:19)
Yeah, like veganism or even we’re talking flexitarians now, vegetarians. It’s changing an awful lot.

Speaker 2 (06:25)
How do you actually find out what your customers want? What research do you carry out?

Speaker 1 (06:30)
We speak to them. But really, we speak directly to the customers quite a lot. Ask them what they do. We do market research. But a lot of what you see is sometimes that’s too late. If you’re sitting talking to your customers going, what do they want? You’re probably behind the curve. That would be my opinion. I think overall, you nearly got to get ahead of what the customer wants.

Speaker 2 (06:55)
Would you use observation techniques, for example? Watching how they go around stores?

Speaker 1 (06:58)
Yeah, I think You look directly at what the customer’s actual behaviour is, but you also look at these mega trends that are coming. You look at what’s coming down the track and say, Okay, flexitarianism, vegetarianism, veganism is going to come. Will vegans engage with us? Difficult when you’re in a fuel business, but absolutely somewhere. Vegetarians, absolutely more likely. And then flexitarians, absolutely again. I think the whole thing is… And then not getting completely focused on it, because we also have a customer that doesn’t want that. Of course.

Speaker 2 (07:35)
The mainstream, for want of a better expression.

Speaker 1 (07:38)
And the mainstream now is becoming a lot healthier, a lot smarter. I’ve count the stories of the big truck driver coming in and ordering a salad.

Speaker 2 (07:50)
Going in the days of the frie.

Speaker 1 (07:52)
Yeah, because he wants to change. And I remember Breakfast Roll Man in the ’90s and the turn of the millennial was everywhere. That was ubiquitous. That was our customer. And now our customer is varied. We still have some breakfast roll then, but more often than not, that breakfast roll man will have a breakfast roll for his breakfast and then a nice healthy salad for his lunch.Unbelievable. Balancing their diet a bit.

Speaker 2 (08:14)
And that’s amazing because they’ve been truckers, you expect them, greasy spoon.

Speaker 1 (08:18)
Yeah, but education kicks in. People are getting smarter, they’re getting more educated. It’s not necessarily college education, but life education. There was much the internet’s helping, a lot of other stuff is helping, but People are becoming more aware of what’s good for them. More savvy. Absolutely.

Speaker 2 (08:34)
So how do you deliver five-star service every time?

Speaker 1 (08:38)
The answer is we wish we delivered five-star service every time. I think our focus is to deliver that five 5 Star service. But we have it in our DNA. Our commitment to making the customer journey easy is the thing that helps us to deliver much better service than our competitors. Do we deliver 5 Star every time? Absolutely not. That’s certainly the goal. Yeah, it’s last brief. Do we deliver more than most people in the industry? Absolutely, I believe that.

Speaker 2 (09:05)
And do you find that customer service is different than the different countries throughout Europe and in North America?

Speaker 1 (09:11)
Not really. Not really. I think overall, I think customer types are very similar, especially across the first world. So if we take the first world, which is pretty much where we operate. I think customer service is very much similar. The How are you, buddy? In Dublin versus the thank you, sir. Have a nice day. Have a nice day in America is different, but the sentiment is the same. And the way of talking to the customer, I think, is the same. We try to be natural and we try to be approachable in terms of how we talk to the customer, whatever the local market, what customer service means there is what we’re focused on.

Speaker 2 (09:50)
I think there’s training in each of the countries for that, is it?

Speaker 1 (09:52)
Yeah, but it’s very local. We’re very local on our product and we’re very local on how we serve the customer, how we to talk to the customer because the customer is local. So therefore we have to be local as well. It’s very difficult when you’re a big company to sit and say, what’s the perfect formula for serving every customer in every country?

Speaker 2 (10:11)
Yeah, so it’s like think global, act local. Is that the expression? Exactly.

Speaker 1 (10:14)
We call it super local, super global, super local. Brilliant.

Speaker 2 (10:18)
In terms of the mix of food and drink, is that a perfect recipe for your typical customers?

Speaker 1 (10:25)
You know what? It’s becoming it. I think over the years, seen the forecourt industry evolve in terms of what it delivers to the customer. We would have always talked about convenience stores. We now talk more about the impulse stores. And a part of that impulse is coffee and food. And really the customer coming in wanting an occasion. They’re not coming in for the exact products anymore. They’re coming in, breakfast, I want breakfast. It’s lunch. I want lunch. I fancy a snack. I just want a break down the road. I want this. So we’re much more focused now on what’s the occasion for the customer than what we would have previously done, which was let’s give them food and drink. Let’s focus. We’re very hot dogs focused in Europe. We’re very famous for hot dogs. We’re brilliant at them. And we tend to own that marketplace. In most countries where we operate. But in Ireland, we’re making steps on hot dogs. People are getting into it, but that’s not the customer local preference. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (11:23)
And on that, in terms of the food that you serve, and we tell it before, is provenance sustainability, organic food. Is that important to circle, Kay?

Speaker 1 (11:33)
I think if I start with the provenance piece, I think provenance is really important. We employ people in the local areas and we like to support local business. So I would say 80 % of our supply base in Ireland is local, is Irish. We do Ireland of Ireland, Ireland. But we would have about 80 % of our suppliers Irish. And that’s the case across most countries we operate in or all countries we operate in, really. You want to reduce your air miles. And you want to reduce And really part of our CR strategy, our corporate responsibility strategy is to have less air miles, to be smarter around how we use up the provenance to support the virus. But there’s also a piece of your supporting local farming, your supporting local community, and then local community’s supporting you, your community and shopping.

Speaker 2 (12:20)
So if you’re making hot dogs in Ireland, I take it that the sausage meat is sourced here. It’s not coming from somewhere else.

Speaker 1 (12:26)
Absolutely. So again, it depends. So if quality product is critically important. When it comes to hot dogs, we’ve got an Irish hot dog, a fantastic Irish hot dog that’s produced by, that’s a great product. But when it comes to Bradbursts and some of the really great German style products or Norwegian style products. We take those from the country they come from because the quality of product is probably the most important to the customer, and the expertise isn’t here to execute that product. If I want to do cheddar in Estonia, I’ll take the Cheddars from here because we know cheddar. That’s our special. And I think part of it is Ireland is specialised in certain zones. We’ve got a very good growing Mexican food industry now that we’re starting in our stores on the starting to gain pace across Europe, but in particular started in Ireland. And provenance there, a lot of it’s Mexico. It just tends to be great. We’re not great on the Chilli, on growing Chilli and stuff like that. So I think the majority of of what we do as Irish, if at all possible.

Speaker 2 (13:32)
How do your customers find that? Do they like it? Do they not like it? Did they tell you?

Speaker 1 (13:36)
I think when it comes to customers telling you stories and doing whatever, it’s almost become an expected thing. I don’t think it’s something we all shout and scream about anymore. It’s something that is a gift.

Speaker 2 (13:48)
It’s not part for the course.

Speaker 1 (13:49)
It’s part for the course. If you’re not doing it, the negative is going to come out. People will talk negatively about you. In the age of social media and everything else, it goes viral. And then you sit there and you have to deal with the consequence.

Speaker 2 (14:03)
So it’s word of mouth on steroids.

Speaker 1 (14:04)
Yeah, but I think overall, I remember years ago with the coffee business when we start talking about fair trade and Rainforest Alliance and everything else. And how The customer, if you ask the customer, what do you think about fair trade? Absolutely love it. Don’t necessarily know what it means anymore. But now it’s about what’s my origin story? It’s bringing it to the next level. What do we care about? Tell us your story. Don’t tell not us what the label is anymore. It’s much more of a what’s your real story? Don’t be lazy. Make sure you’re doing it right. And the customer is starting to think more like that. And it’s a high proportion. It’s a really high proportion of customers now are starting to care. And if the negative does happen, you will lose that customer.

Speaker 2 (14:48)
Which is good for you because you’re not.

Speaker 1 (14:50)
Exactly. And I think it’s… And again, I credit the Irish industry a lot, our competitors a lot, because I think not in Forcourt and see stores and stuff, we’ve got a fantastic provenance to make all of our stuff.

Speaker 2 (15:05)
And it seems, as you say, right across Ireland, right across all the different types of stores, they’re all doing it, which is great.

Speaker 1 (15:11)
And even when people are coming in, we’re obviously a massive global company. We’ve got the German discounters coming in and trading a lot here, but they realise very quickly how important is customers. And they start something. They’re doing that. They source, they do. But the main reason for all of this is quality product. So the farms produce an amazing quality product.

Speaker 2 (15:32)
And we’ve got brilliant meat, except here. Absolutely.

Speaker 1 (15:35)
The weather is perfect for our milk as long as we can hold global warming off for a bit. I think the weather is brilliant for that temper climate means we’ve got fantastic grass, fantastic cows of milk. And a lot of our product is just brilliant because we’ve got a perfect little country for growing.

Speaker 2 (15:56)
And a fantastic story to tell. How do you get that out to your customers that you’re actually using the local farmer, using the local cheder cheesemaker?

Speaker 1 (16:04)
We do a lot of it through our staff, actually, in terms of our training. We do a lot of training, and I’m talking Ireland-specific here. When we train our staff, we teach them the problems, we tell them the stories. It’s a big part of that journey. I think it can be a bit plastic to put up signs and to say, This is what we do, and this is this, and put labels on everything. But I think overall, what we like to do is we like to train our staff to have the conversation because that’s what the customer really cares. That’s where they really… When they’re talking to Mary, then I’m in cash flow. They want to know, tell me that story and where does that come from? Can I buy it in the supermarket or something similar? I think that’s a lot of what Perfect.

Speaker 2 (16:45)
And you know better than I, people buy people. So that’s right. That’s a really good way to go. I like that idea. Brilliant. I’m interested to hear how tourism has had an impact on Circle K, and Ireland, in particular, F at all. We’re really starting to see tourists come with the north, which hadn’t seen before. I mean, in the south, you’ve had it for a longer time.

Speaker 1 (17:03)
Yeah, and I think it does impact. We think it doesn’t impact as much as it does, I think. It isn’t a key focus for us, especially when we work across lots of markets. But if I can take on my European experience, where if you’re in a store in Norway, the sweets are travelling, you’re in Denmark, everyone’s travelling through Denmark as a hub. If you’re in Poland, Poland is the biggest hub I’ve ever seen in terms of activity of People just driving through, coming through, truck drivers, everything, all nationalities, whether it be tourism or work, work tourism, where people are travelling through on work. And I think when it comes to us, we do get buses into our stores. We do get a lot of stuff, and that’s what we cast as tourism. Oh, we got a bus. But actually, the amount of people renting cars, coming to visit Ireland, and the tourism ramping up and stuff, it’s really good. And it’s nice to be in that world because we’re known, especially with our US friends.

Speaker 2 (17:58)
That’s what I was going to say. You’ve got people from America, you’ve got people from Central Europe, Eastern Europe coming, and they recognise the brand. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (18:04)
I had an interesting piece in the air, going to the airport where I got… I stupidly brought a salad onto a plane, trying to go to America the last time. And I brought a salad from chopped in the airport. I was going through and said, nothing organic. No, I have nothing except my lunch, of course. And when I was going through and the lady stopped me. As I was talking to the immigration person, I put the salad up on the counter and said, no, I have nothing organic. And she said, well, what’s that? It’s a salad. And very bad reaction. Very, you know, sir, you’re not to do this. You’re not to do this. Who do you work for? Suck okay. Suck okay? Not in Ireland? And I said, oh, yeah, we are. We’re topaz. We’re rebranding and we’re going there. She said, Oh, wow, where was my local friend? She led you off. So I got away with it. So the Irish flagging combined with a bit of circle K was really good. But absolutely, it’s brilliant. Our American friends all know us very well in Canadian. Which is great. And they travel a lot.

Speaker 2 (19:01)
Yeah, because if we were going to America and you see something from home, your initial reaction is, Oh, let’s go there. I mean, to be stereotypical, you go to the Irish bar when you go to places.

Speaker 1 (19:10)
So it’s good for us. It is good for us. I think Americans know us very well.

Speaker 2 (19:14)
Magic. And in terms then of marketing campaigns, any good ones you’ve been involved in? Any interesting ones? Anyone’s coming up you want to talk about?

Speaker 1 (19:22)
It’s been involved in lots. Our coffee campaign, Simply Great Coffee, was really fantastic and really hit a card with the Irish customer. We got We got a big uptake in how much coffee we sell. And also we changed the quality of the product. We changed everything about it when we did it. But we got a really good impact from the customer. I think we did something we called internally Skyfall when we rebranded circle K across the business. And that got a really great reaction from the customer because new owners coming in, investing very heavily in our business in Ireland. And that was really good. But at the moment, we’re really trying to change the customer experience. We’re investing in the in-stores. And I’m actually running this project in Europe, which we’re calling internally new circle K stuff. Not very imaginable, but that’s what we’re calling it. And what we’re doing is we have a four-court brand and then we have a store. But what we’re doing now is working on the store brand. What does it look like? What’s the experience of the customer? And that’s really a big focus area for us at the moment.

Speaker 1 (20:22)
And that’s a really exciting one. And marketing it is really exciting as well. So you’re going to see it in Ireland very soon.

Speaker 2 (20:26)
And you’re rolling it ready across Europe, ready across… Is it North America as well?

Speaker 1 (20:30)
No, no. Just Europe at the moment. So we’ve got about 50 stores in Europe today. It’s only started in testing and trialling. By the end of April, we’ll have about 100 stores. And by the following April, we’ll have about 350 stores. And then we’ll really get our pace at that. So you’re going hard? Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. It? I go harder, go home.

Speaker 2 (20:51)
Brilliant. And in terms then of Ireland, how important is food culture in Ireland?

Speaker 1 (20:57)
How do you see that? I see Ireland as Probably one of the most progressive food places in the world. I really do.

Speaker 2 (21:03)
Not that we’ll be passed.

Speaker 1 (21:05)
No, but again, in terms of forecourt, we win a lot of what we call NACs Awards between ourselves and our competitors, which is the North American Convenience Association Award for the best sea stores in the world. Ireland, I think, is one of our half of these awards between ourselves and our competitors. And it’s because we are the best. But I think when it comes to it, Irish people are very experimental. We were potatoes and cabbage not 20 years ago. And then we all travelled. And then when the tiger came in and we all started to… People came back.

Speaker 2 (21:39)
Yeah. Plenty of money.

Speaker 1 (21:40)
Plenty of money, but not just money. Experience. So people had been living in New York, living in Boston, living in Vancouver, living in Mexico, living in Australia. And people started coming back to have their families, to have their kids and stuff. And we see a lot of… I see immigration as a real positive because so much comes back. Absolutely. And when it comes back, it comes back with ideas. And I think in terms of the high street in Dublin and in Belfast, I don’t think there’s much more innovative places in the world anymore. For such small populations, these crazy people doing crazy things with food, with Mongolian barbecues.

Speaker 2 (22:14)
Yeah, I’ve been there in Dublin.

Speaker 1 (22:15)
Yeah, but there’s incredible stuff going on on the high street. And it’s really innovative. It’s really risky, but it’s working. And it’s because the Irish customer is very experimental. They will try new things. They’ll do new things. They’ll try experiences on holidays, come back and look for the Portuguese now, the Tarte when they come back. But it’s all of that stuff. It’s true. And it’s unique because most countries, you come back and you’re back to your old food.

Speaker 2 (22:42)
So tell me then, because you talked about the Mexican adventure in Circle K. Where does circle cake fit in? The Irish food culture?

Speaker 1 (22:51)
I think part of what we do is we do tend to look for that core customer. There is part of it that is looking at that core customer We’re looking what that local-So it’s your sandwich and coffee type-Sandwich and coffee is the core. But then on top of that, you’re looking for those things that are points of difference. What are we different? What’s going to make us famous out there? Because the core tends to be easily copied, easily Everybody goes there very quickly and goes, That’s what the main customer wants. But then when you’re sitting and you want something a bit different, you want those little points of difference as well. And I think that’s where we Excel. We don’t really do brands under our roof. We are, okay, we’re about our own product and owning those products. And it’s a difference.

Speaker 2 (23:38)
That’s really interesting, actually. And what do you think… I mean, you’re involved in food a long time. What do you think is the future for a food and drink in Ireland?

Speaker 1 (23:45)
I think it’s going to keep on evolving. I think we are going to see a lot more people changing their diet a lot throughout the week. I think this flexitarian thing, when I heard it, I thought it was funny. I thought that’s a crazy Who’s going to do that? And now I do it a bit about myself. Me too. And I think part of what will happen is you will see that in the same way as people indulge in chocolate at periods of the day or periods of the week. I think people will start to indulge more in what we will currently see as our core offer, our core thing. And then they will tend to push into other areas throughout the week and test different things. And maybe have to fish one day, maybe just nothing, just meet another day, maybe salad some days. And I think you’re going to find people’s diets are going to vary a lot more, which means we need to be much more finger on the post.

Speaker 2 (24:38)
I was going to ask you, have you got a plan in place for that?

Speaker 1 (24:40)
No, just keep on innovating, keep on moving. And I think sometimes You’ve got to go with the curve. And the curve is moving very quickly in Ireland at the moment. And it’s an exciting place to do business.

Speaker 2 (24:53)
You’ve laid me on very well, too. In terms of Circle K rolling out more franchises Because particularly in the north, you haven’t got as many here. What’s the plan?

Speaker 1 (25:03)
I am not 100 % sure on it, if I’m completely honest. I think we’re always growing. We’re always focused on how we grow, how we acquire a new business. I think certainly if there’s opportunity there and the opportunity comes up, we’ll be there to take it. But again, marketplaces, the opportunity has to come first. If everyone sits there saying we want to continue owning our own business, we’ll probably go organically and we’ll add a few stores every now and then.

Speaker 2 (25:35)
Do you own some of yourselves as well as franchises?

Speaker 1 (25:38)
We only own actually one in Northern Ireland. We own a huge amount down the South. We own over 150 stores down the South. But when it comes to the North, we only own one store in Larn and the rest are the franchise.

Speaker 2 (25:51)
So if I wanted to become a franchisee of Circle K, how do you go about it?

Speaker 1 (25:55)
I’ll give you a contact number. I can’t help. But certainly, we have a brilliant franchise team led by Jonathan Dever and Jonathan. Jonathan and his team would really help.

Speaker 2 (26:05)
But you can give me some details. And in terms of the future for Circle K, globally, we’re domination.

Speaker 1 (26:12)
Yeah, I think we’re going to continue to grow. We’ve been a company that’s grown by acquisition quite a lot. I think our focus now is going to be a little bit on how we grow our core business. So a lot of the time we put most of our capital into new ventures and buying new companies, acquiring We bought CST brands, I think, two years ago or a year and a half ago, and it was 2000 stores. So that’s one purchase. So I think when you look, we will absolutely keep on acquiring like that. But there’s a limit to how many of these come on the market. So I think overall, we’re really going to be focused on how do we grow our existing business. And that’s certainly what my focus is in my day job.

Speaker 2 (26:54)
So less about acquisition, more about the core?

Speaker 1 (26:56)
Yeah, I think we’ll focus on the core a lot more and how do we grow the core and how do we invest in the core, keep making that customer experience better. Brilliant.

Speaker 2 (27:03)
Tell me about Derry Murphy PLC. What’s next for Derry Murphy?

Speaker 1 (27:08)
I’m going to keep on working hard on the day job, keep on rolling out these new stores. I think I’m busy enough without having to look at medium to long term goals at the moment. The focus is very much getting these new stores open and out there, for me at the moment. And continuing to support the business units in our countries in developing their food offers for their local customers.

Speaker 2 (27:30)
Brilliant. And if I wanted to find out more about Circle K, how do you do it?

Speaker 1 (27:34)
Website’s the best place to start. Is it circlek.

Speaker 2 (27:37)
Ie? Circlek.

Speaker 1 (27:38)
Ie for the Irish one. And then we have circlek. Com. But again, any Google search, you can find out each country. We’re always looking for great people out there. So if anyone is jumping, looking for a franchise, looking for work, looking to work with us and to become part of that. Family and merchants, we’re always there on the website. But again, if anyone is jumping, looking for a franchise, looking for work, looking to work with us and to become part of that. Family and merchants, we’re always there on the website. So Be a customer, a fuel customer, anything like that, it’s all on the website.

Speaker 2 (28:03)
Okay. And lastly, what’s the future for Irish Food and Drink throughout the world?

Speaker 1 (28:10)
I think it’s really bright. I think we’ve got to be our unbelievable organisation in terms of… And I know they support all Ireland now, but they’re very supportive of selling our quality message across the world. And to me, that’s what’s going to be the thing that really wins overall. I think We’ve got hiccups like Brexit and all that stuff coming. But overall, what we’re looking at is we have a great product. People like great products. So for me, the future of Irish food and drink is absolutely going to be massive because we have great farmers, great producers, great companies working with that product. And then we’re good at exporting. We’re a little island, and I think 14 billion last year or something. We exported.

Speaker 2 (28:56)
We’re good at exporting products on people, actually, aren’t we? We really are.

Speaker 1 (29:01)
The people keep on coming back today.

Speaker 2 (29:04)
Brilliant. But, Derek, thank you very much indeed. That was absolutely fascinating. No problem. And I wish you all the best in the future. Thank you very much. Thank you. So thanks very much for watching. And I’m sure it’ll be very interesting to hear what Derek had to say. So until next time, all the best. Bye.

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