Family run Londis continues to make its mark in Barntown
O’Brien’s Londis, Larkin’s Cross, is an integral part of the community
Retailer Jimmy O’Brien and his family recently made a significant investment into their family owned and operated Londis in Larkin’s Cross in County Wexford. The revamp is spectacular and proving to be a real hit with customers.
Nestled on the outskirts of a bustling Wexford town, Barntown is a townland rich in history and heritage. It was the site of the first Norman Castle erected in Ireland, a structure that still sits at the mouth of the Slaney River to serve as a visual reminder of its past.
A little further inland, O’Brien’s have been a ubiquitous presence in the Barntown community, first opening a grocery store in the area in 1939 that was owned and operated by Paddy O’Brien & Family. In 1996, Jimmy took over the reins from his father and he, along with his wife Dolores now own and operate the state-of-the-art O’Brien’s Londis Larkin’s Cross in the heart of Barntown, serving their local community.
It’s a real family business. Dolores looks after the marketing of the store and sister Hilary handles the admin and HR functions. The O’Brien family are well known in the area and, as well as a recent revamp to the store, Jimmy is already excited about phase two of their ambitious development plans – the addition of the first Supermac’s to the Wexford area.
“We’re very excited about bringing this famous brand to Wexford,” said Jimmy. “When you tell people that it will be the first Supermac’s in the county they don’t believe you. It’s such an iconic brand to Irish people that it’s assumed it’s everywhere.”
The addition of the franchise to O’Brien’s Londis is just one part of a major revamp of the business.
In 2018, O’Brien’s Londis Larkin’s Cross, decided that the time was right to invest in their store. With investment and commitment from the wider Londis and BWG Foods team, their 3000 sq ft store was fully revamped to the new Londis spec.
The revamp was completed over eight weeks and Jimmy was pleased to find that the process did not negatively impact his business. “We were really happy with the support that we received from the BWG team throughout the revamp. The contractors were great and very professional, they worked on the floors overnight and this meant that the store could stay open while the revamp was being completed.”
To ensure the weighty project ran smoothly Jimmy appointed a Retail Project Manager, Paul O’Brien, to oversee the revamp and he ensured there was a minimum of disruption, “we couldn’t have done it with Paul. He made sure we were almost unaffected from a trading perspective.”
Jimmy is keen to pay tribute to the wider Londis family for their help, support and encouragement throughout the process.
“From our first meeting about the possibility of revamping the whole team were brilliant. The marketing team rowed in with support, Robert Galster (store design) was very helpful from design phase to completion. John Dobbs was excellent as Fresh Food advisor and we honestly couldn’t have done it without support of Conor Hayes and Sean Lavin.”
Changes are well received
The O’Brien’s are now enjoying the results of their hard work in their new-look store. The store now offers the new Londis Deli concept, a Bewley’s Coffee Dock, as well as a bright new seating area for customers. With a fantastic range of freshly prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner options for customers to choose from, the Deli is an excellent convenient fresh food solution for customers.
“The changes have been very well received by our customers. Our customers are very happy with the improvement we’ve made, and have been telling us as much. We’re delighted with the finished look and feel to the store.”
With phase one of the revamp completed Jimmy and Dolores are looking to the future and plan to grow business in their new-look store.
“We want to focus on growing the fresh food side of our business and upgrade the fuel element of the business. This, with the addition of Supermac’s, will see us continue to grow and serve the needs of the local community.”
Part of the Community
Engaging with the local community is hugely important to the O’Brien family. “Talking to the people of Barntown every day and being part of the community is my favourite part of the job.”
O’Brien’s Londis Larkin’s Cross are set to host Catherine Fulvio, celebrity chef for a Food Fair event on Thursday 7th March from 2pm to 5pm to thank their customers for their business throughout 2018 and to present some fresh food ideas. The event will feature cooking demonstrations from celebrity chef Catherine Fulvio and delicious tastings from the stores’ fresh food offerings and local suppliers. Customers will be treated to Catherine cooking three dishes, a soup, a main course and a dessert.
The parents and children of the Barntown community will be excited to learn that O’Brien’s Londis is joining in on the fund raising for the Barntown Community Playground. On the day of the Food Fair all proceeds from Bewley’s coffee sales will go to the Barntown Community Children’s Playground. Jimmy intends to run various fund raising events throughout the year for the playground, as well as entering a team in “HELL & BACK for Joy” in aid of Pieta House for the Londis annual fund raiser.
While Jimmy readily admits that he loves what he does, like any job there are challenges and it’s fair to say that retail has many challenges. The spectre of Brexit looms large over all businesses in Ireland and Jimmy is adopting a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude to the myriad of possible scenarios Brexit will throw up.
“We simply do not know what will happen on March 29 (the official date for the UK to split from the EU). Hopefully, by then, common sense will have prevailed, but we cannot predict the future and will deal with whatever happens and how it affects our business when it does.”
Convenience retailing is a very competitive sector but it’s one Jimmy thoroughly enjoys working in.
“You need to constantly innovate in order to stay ahead of the competition but I don’t think you should be in retail if you don’t enjoy that challenge. There are constantly new trends in food and coffee emerging and it’s important to keep your offering up to date. In retail every day is different and that’s what makes it so interesting.”