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Scally's SuperValu in Clonakilty, Co Cork, has been shortlisted for two global retail awards at the prestigious IGD Awards in London in November, one nomination as 'Store of the Year' and another for 'Diversity & Inclusion'.
So, how does a store in West Cork come to be nominated for two global retail awards?
“It’s all down to being part of our community, teamwork, expertise and sustainability,” was the answer we got from Eugene Scally, owner of Scally’s SuperValu, Clonakilty, Co Cork.
Some of the world's leading retailers will be represented at the IGD Awards in London, on November 6 and 7. The team at Scally's SuperValu are rightly proud of their nomination as 'IGD Global Store of the Year'. The West Cork store will compete with another six stores from across the world (from Finland, Brazil, UK, Switzerland and the US). No mean feat. The nomination for 'Diversity and Inclusion' is particularly pleasing to the team. More of that later.
IGD is a research and training charity based in Watford, England, which sits at the heart of the UK's food and grocery industry. Regular visitors to Scally’s SuperValu won't be too surprised to see the IGD judges shortlist them among the world's best stores. Why? It's all down to the family ethos of the owners and the people working for them. Firstly, they don’t believe in the idea of titles. “We don’t have manager titles really, the ethos of our business is built around being a team,” said Eugene Scally.
Everyone helps everyone else in the store, across all departments. Not a typical structure, it creates a very refreshing atmosphere that is instantly evident to visitors to the store. The team at Scally's SuperValu pride themselves on being part of and supporting the area, however they can.
Born in Kilbeggan, Eugene Scally worked as a butcher with Five Star supermarkets in Dublin before he was offered a shop in Clonakilty in 1984. From a team of approximately 20 people, the store now employs over 165 people locally. The supermarket, as it is now, opened in 2004.
The culture of the SuperValu Group is to support local producers and suppliers, Scally’s are leaders in this and they endeavour to source as much as possible from the West Cork area. The importance this family puts on supporting local is one of the reasons the store has been shortlisted for two IGD awards.
Another key pillar of this family business, and probably the one that means the most to them, is their belief in the strength of ‘community’, and how they believe they must play their part.
"As a business that is an integral part of the fibre of Clonakilty, we were interested to find out about their Autism Friendly Shopping Nights and how that evolved," said Eugene Scally.
“In 2015, a customer of ours approached us to do a shopping evening for people with autism. We really didn’t know anything about it or have any family or friends who have autism, so we decided that we would put a team together to learn more and get trained on how we could assist.”
The store now runs an ‘Autism Friendly Shopping Night’ every Tuesday, making sure the lighting is right, the piped music is off, tills are silent, etc, while ensuring trained personnel are on hand to assist customers as needed. On the back of its success, the businesses and community and sports groups of Clonakilty formed a committee to roll out this initiative for the whole town. SuperValu is an integral supporter of the ‘AsIAm’ Autism Charity and funded the scheme.
The interest was so great in the town that it was initially over-subscribed. Adam Harris, founder and CEO of AsIAM, put in place training and education around autism for this group of dedicated people and Clonakilty received its accreditation in October 2018.
“It is very humbling that a small idea that we had has become so big, something that started as a conversation has flourished,'' Eugene adds.
Currently, there are ten other towns now working towards accreditation and Autism Friendly Shopping is now within 90 SuperValu stores and has spread across Ireland. They should take a bow on this initiative, whether they want to or not. It is this type of community involvement that has earned them a place at the top table of this year’s IGD Diversity and Inclusion nominations, competing with Coca Cola European Partners, Co-Op UK and the Diversity in Grocery Group.
The IGD judges called to the store after Easter this year. They spent four hours there, despite having planned to stay just 40 minutes. Working from the front door of Scally's right through to the storerooms at the back and engaging with customers and team members alike, the judges were so impressed that they stated: “The store showcases new strategies designed to differentiate and improve the customer shopping experience.”
They highlighted Scally’s fresh produce as a ‘standout’ along with its sustainability initiatives (refillable oils and vinegars), a great herbs and spices counter and gluten-free bakery.
At Scally's SuperValu, they constantly strive to improve the customer experience, be that through their newly opened Street Kitchen, their vast Cheese Counter, through their customer engagement or the unique in-store bakery. But Scally’s is much more than just a store, it has become a fundamental part of what Clonakilty is.
Be in no doubt that these global nominations are well deserved. Be in no doubt that Scally’s would not be Scally’s without its people. And be in no doubt that Scally’s is part of the fabric of the West Cork community.