CV: Galway Native Tom Nestor has worked in retail for over 30 years with his brother, John – Director. They set up their first retail outlet selling fruit and vegetables on Fr Griffin Road in the late 1980s. The business has grown under the directorship of both Tom and John Nestor and now includes three SuperValu Stores – Ballybane, Oranmore, Fr Griffin Rd – and one Centra Store – Doughiska. The company currently employs 236 people from the Galway area. Tom is actively involved in retailer interests and recently served three years on the SuperValu National Council.
When Galway natives Tom and John Nestor set up their first retail outlet, a fruit and veg shop on Fr Griffin Road, even they, ambitious as they were, could scarcely have imagined that they would one day employ over 230 people.
However, a desire to offer the best possible product led the Nestors to consistently revamp and expand their offering until they became one of Galway City’s largest retail employers.
For the past ten years, Nestor’s has operated under the banner of Nestor’s SuperValu. Tom and John initially joined the Londis Symbol group, but soon outgrew their surroundings and realised that aligning with the Musgrave SuperValu Centra group would provide them with a better platform to grow their business.
With three SuperValu stores, at Fr Griffin Rd, the OranTown Centre in Oranmore and in Ballybane, plus a Centra outlet in Doughiska, they clearly made the right move.
“To meet our customers’ needs, really, we needed to join SuperValu,” explains Tom.
As with any retail business, Tom acknowledges that “things have gotten tighter” since the economy collapsed in 2008, but rather than raising the white flag and waiting for business to decline, Nestor’s instead met the recession head-on and has sought to grow in the past five years.
“Since 2008, when the downturn started, we’ve expanded Fr Griffin Road, we have revamped the Oranmore store and we have also recently done a job on the Ballybane store, so all told, we’ve spent a fair bit of money since the downturn to make sure we didn’t fall behind,” says Tom.
Similarly, with value becoming all the more important to budget-conscious customers, the buying power offered by the SuperValu group has allowed Nestor’s go toe-to-toe with the other multiples to ensure they don’t fall behind on price.
Retail tends to have a high staff turnover, but Nestor’s has striven over the years to retain and upskill its staff, with many staff going through Diploma and Degree courses, to enable them to deliver a better customer experience.
It is actions like this which make Tom’s claims more than empty rhetoric. He is genuinely determined to give his customers the best possible shopping experience and realises that this stretches beyond ‘stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap’. Value is important, but today’s customer requires more.
“There’s substance behind what we say,” he explains. “We don’t just come out and make statements with nothing to back it up. If we say we’re ‘real food, real people’, that’ll be seen on the shop floor, that’s brought to life. If we say that we have the best fresh [food], we don’t just make that statement, we prove it. Everything we say is backed up by what you see on the shop floor. As the saying goes in our business, ‘we bring it to life’.”
As the business has expanded and the grocery retail sector grows ever more competitive, it would be easy for Nestor’s to drift away from the community spirit fostered during those early days, selling fruit and veg on Fr Griffin Road.
However, one of the reasons Tom and John Nestor chose to align with the SuperValu brand, says Tom, was the group’s commitment to community involvement.
This is evidenced through the company’s on-going support of clubs such as Salthill–Knocknacarra, Oranmore and St James’ or through their fundraising for Galway Hospice. Nestor’s also has an inclusive policy towards staffing and have worked with Employability Galway since 2002, with nine people with disability having been employed in Nestor stores.
The community focus also extends to supporting local suppliers such as Divilly’s, Galmere, Galway Bay Seafoods and Beechlawn Organic. Indeed SuperValu supports the purchase of €1.6 billion worth of Irish goods annually.
Looking into the future, Tom says the company will continue to work to stay ahead of the game and be ready to seize opportunities when they arise.
While looking forward, however, he has not lost sight of the past and reserves particular praise for those who have helped him, namely the stores’ loyal customers and hardworking staff, especially key team members who have been there through thick and thin.
“We couldn’t have done anything without George Osborne (General Manager), Peter Cloonan(Financial Controller) and Amanda Gibbons (Group HR Manager), just to name three people. George used to be my right hand, now he’s my right and my left hand! On behalf of myself and John, I can’t give enough of a thank-you. Our ethos of interaction with customers has been carried out better than we could have ever done.”