NOffLA Speaks – In praise of excellence

Martin Maloney outlines the first-class range and expertise that consumers can always find at this year's Off-licence of the Year; Redmond's of Ranelagh

Redmond’s of Ranelagh is the 2012 Off-Licence of the Year. Although this is the first time that Redmond’s has won the overall award, the outlet holds the unique distinction of being the only outlet to have won all three specialist awards, having won the spirit specialist award in 2000 and 2006, the wine specialist award in 2002 and the beer specialist award in 2003.

Redmond’s is a family business. Jimmy and Aidan Redmond have followed in their father’s retail footsteps, as the premises started out some 70 years ago as an, albeit much smaller, Redmond’s Grocery.

Distinctive shop front

Following renovations in 2009, the distinctive shop front now provides an enticing invitation to step inside the shop, which is filled with a warm, soft light, while the atmosphere is both comfortable and relaxing. The redesigned shop includes several stand-out features. Amongst these are the 2,352 dark green bottles which fill the top shelves on each wall. The dark green colour was not chosen lightly or, as it happens, very easily. Once chosen, the required quantity had to be sourced and shipped from New Zealand specifically for the project.
The attention to detail, and the level of forethought, is evident throughout the shop.

Fresh perspective

Jimmy and Aidan have found that many aspects of their business have been affected by the new premises. “The change prompted a look at everything. We became more aware of how people shopped the old shop. It was like an old glove.
People knew it so well. New customers weren’t finding the product because they were being swamped by it.” Customers are now “shopping the shop” to a far greater extent. “The interaction of consumer and product is far greater. There is no clutter.” Existing customers are seeing  and buying products other than those they habitually purchased down the years. Using the new layout to best effect has been a process of trial and error. “It took us 10 months to find out how best to use the floor space without adversely affecting the wall shelving.”
Taking that long look at every aspect of their business has been rewarding for Redmond’s. The opening up of their existing windows and the replacement of timber-framed doors with entirely-glass doors has encouraged more impulse purchases.

Real value for money

Given the economically-stringent times, getting the customers over your threshold is only part of the job. Making the sale has often become more difficult and, while the new design has made that task so much easier, the Redmond brothers have found that there is more appreciation for a bargain or a discount than before. Special offer pricing in the shop now specifically highlights the saving as well as the reduced price. It would seem that people like to be reminded that they are getting real value for money.
Despite the recession, Jimmy and Aidan have seen the impact of the new premises on their business. The mix of sales has changed. There is a greater proliferation of premium sprits. “Like everyone just now, we’re selling less spirits than we were, but although people are buying less, they’re buying better.” For a shop that had such a strong reputation for having a huge range of beers, the Redmond brothers have found it interesting to see that the renovations have had an effect here too. “There’s now a greater willingness for people to shop the entire fridge.” In line with other specialist beer retailers, Redmond’s has seen the increasing move towards premium beers, where people are buying a 75 ml beer in the same way as they buy wine and “replacing a bottle of wine with a bottle of beer on a given night”. The new-look has also encouraged the wine customer to move to a higher price point. While the volume business is multiple-oriented, Redmond’s customers are buying a better bottle of wine than previously.

Customer relationships

Familiar relationships have been established between the Redmond brothers and their customers. Clearly these are relationships built up over time, with respect and courtesy on both sides. Jimmy and Aidan really know their customers. This is an enterprise built on repeat business and one that is based on the pleasure of doing business, which is obvious on seeing either of them engaging with their customers. It is because of their enjoyment in doing so that they don’t display tasting notes for their wines. “We want a personal engagement and a relationship with our customers and not having tasting notes does work.” Customers appear more inclined to engage, as they can often take the presence of tasting notes as a signal that reading the notes is the preferred means of communicating in a particular outlet. The personal touch works in Redmond’s, with an 85% rate of repeat business and regular customers coming from Stillorgan, Rathgar and Terenure.
Whilst the new premises are magnificent, the core of this business is about the relationship of its proprietors with their customers. Having found a product here that was unavailable elsewhere; new customers become regulars, to whom Jimmy is fond of advising, to save time and effort, “Always start with the best first”.

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