Food is fore­court fu­ture as ‘fuel’ for mo­torists drives sales

Irish Independent - Business Week - - Front Page - With Fear­gal Quinn

Q AWHAT will the rise of in­ter­net shop­ping and other chal­lenges mean for the fu­ture of food re­tail­ing?

THIS is an ex­cit­ing topic. On one hand, it is easy to ar­gue there will al­ways be phys­i­cal food shops as many cus­tomers sim­ply pre­fer to touch, smell, and see the food they are buy­ing.

Of course, there will al­ways be peo­ple who want the con­ve­nience of on­line shop­ping, or at least those who, on cer­tain weeks when they have a tight sched­ule, might pre­fer to use on­line chan­nels.

What is more in­ter­est­ing is the pace of change. If, for ex­am­ple, you look at the fore­court sec­tor and how food has evolved in that space.

A decade ago, the fore­court was some­where you went to put diesel in your car. If you were lucky they might have had a small bak­ery.

I re­cently heard Joe Bar­rett from Ap­ple­green de­scrib­ing their com­pany as a food re­tailer which hap­pens to sell fuel.

In ef­fect, many fore­court sites have now be­come mini food­ser­vice op­er­a­tions, with many peo­ple stop­ping only for fuel for their body rather than their car.

More in­ter­est­ingly in the fore­court sec­tor, where petrol and diesel is one of their core rev­enue streams, is the ad­vent of elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

I read with as­ton­ish­ment re­cently that one of the Scan­di­na­vian coun­tries has more than 50pc elec­tri­cal ve­hi­cles and some of the fore­courts have more than 100 charg­ing points. Isn’t that amaz­ing?

What would be more amaz­ing is how these op­er­a­tions rein­vent them­selves over the next decade to cope with one of the key rea­sons peo­ple stop (car fuel), pos­si­bly dis­ap­pear­ing as a need.

That’s a very good ex­am­ple of how food is go­ing to have to evolve, and per­haps in the case of the fore­court, be­come the pri­mary rea­son that peo­ple stop.

Whether it is elec­tric­ity, or diesel or petrol fuel might be less rel­e­vant in the de­ci­sion­mak­ing process.

I see the same changes oc­cur­ring within main­stream su­per­mar­ket shop­ping and there will be a strong need for re­tail­ers to strengthen their fresh food of­fer par­tic­u­larly so that they achieve des­ti­na­tion sta­tus through the shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence.

QMY busi­ness is grow­ing very well and I now have sev­eral hun­dred staff, and I’m in the process of strength­en­ing my man­age­ment team. I have some fam­ily mem­bers in the busi­ness and my ques­tion to you is, do you think that fam­ily should take key board­room po­si­tions, or should these be ex­ter­nal peo­ple?

THE an­swer re­ally lies in the skill sets that lie within the busi­ness, and those pos­sessed by the fam­ily mem­bers.

Just be­cause some­one is a mem­ber of the fam­ily, does not au­to­mat­i­cally mean that they should be sit­ting on the board of the com­pany.

My ad­vice is that you con­duct a needs anal­y­sis on the skill sets within the busi­ness and de­ter­mine what skills you want on the board.

It would also be a good idea to get ex­ter­nal help as part of the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process with re­gards to who you should get to fill these roles.

An ex­ter­nal com­pany will be more ob­jec­tive and give you a more neu­tral de­ci­sion-mak­ing process.

ASend your small busi­ness ques­tions to him­self@fear­galquinn.ie

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