Customer service and a focus on local employment is the secret to the success of O’Toole’s SuperValu in Tuam, says Joe O’Toole
Located in the heart of Tuam, O’Toole’s SuperValu has been at the centre of life in the town for over 45 years. However, the store started from much more humble beginnings.
Joe O’Toole’s family operated a business for many years before the Headford native decided to go out on his own. From a small 900 sq ft store, which he and his wife Helen opened in 1967, Joe steadily acquired additional space in Tuam town centre and expanded his business to become one of the first supermarkets in Co. Galway.
Acquiring a 10,000 sq ft site in 1981 allowed Joe to transform the business into a major retail outlet and it is this move that he says gave him “the key to everything” he has.
Despite the backdrop of economic gloom, the newly built store was a massive success and has since expanded to the current 23,000 sq ft space that employs 165 people.
Many of the store’s staff have been with them for decades, with two of the supermarket’s butchers, Martin Walsh and Pat Forde, working at O’Toole’s for over 40 years. They are ably supported by a network of local students who work shifts at the supermarket at weekends.
“We would have a lot of part-time staff and students and there’s been a huge amount of goodwill built up over the years. It’s that link to the community that does the business for us; people are coming into us since we opened 45 years ago and it’s their sons and daughters that are coming now!” he explains.
Despite the increase in the number of large supermarket chains, Joe says that local residents still like to keep their trade local and he says that SuperValu aims to be bring even better value to their customers, combined with top customer service.
“We give good value on a huge variety of goods; you’ll get items from us that you won’t get anywhere else. It’s not a big multi-national; it’s a family business and that’s the difference. We give a good, friendly service and people talk about us,” he says.
This commitment to their customers has also been noticed within the industry, with O’Toole’s SuperValu being named as a finalist for the Retail Excellence Ireland National Store of the Year 2012 award.
The awards recognise Ireland’s best retail stores, companies, people and websites and aim to promote best practise standards in the Irish retail industry. O’Toole’s SuperValu was the only supermarket in the 30 stores chosen for the final of the awards, from over 600 original entries.
While Joe concedes that the current environment is “tough”, he believes that the secret to his success is the consolidation of the business and continued investment in Tuam.
He also credits his success to his loyal customers, many of whom have been shopping at O’Toole’s since 1967.
“Without their valued support, we wouldn’t have the business we have today. I always tell the staff that it’s the customers that pay their wages, not Joe O’Toole. I also want to thank my dedicated staff for making the store the number one supermarket in Ireland,” he says.