Based in Carnmore East, Oranmore, Divillys of Galway, now trading as Divilly Brothers, is a third-generation family business that has been producing quality raw and cooked meats since 1927. Maev Martin talks to brothers Shane and Peter Divilly about transitioning the business to the next generation of ownership
It has been a busy time for Divillys of Galway, with brothers Peter and Shane in the process of completing a takeover of the business from their dad Brian and launching a new company name and logo.
“As well as being the production manager, Peter has taken over the day-to-day running of the business, and over the next few months, we will both operate as joint directors of what is now Divilly Brothers,” says sales manager, Shane.
“Over the past few decades, we have worked hard on developing a brand that consumers feel attached too and on making our products feel like a personal purchase for our customers. Our change of name and logo was motivated by market research carried out on our behalf by Dublin- based brand building and creative agency, Neworld Associates, which revealed that consumers are becoming more aware of who and where their products come from.
“Also, we are a family business that is now into its third generation, so we wanted to showcase that heritage and highlight what consumers can expect from all our products. We decided that giving our brand a fresh new look was the best way to achieve this. We have a proven track record of excellence stretching back to 1927. All our products are locally-produced and quality assured. The Divilly Brothers logo, therefore, reflects who we are. Our motto, ‘so honest our name is on it’, tells the customer that we are proud of what we produce and that we will always stand over our products. The use of the Irish language is also a USP that shows our heritage and our love of Ireland. By choosing the Divilly brand, consumers are choosing a product with a strong heritage that is locally produced and they are also supporting employment in the local area, which is very important to us at Divilly. While Peter and I are brothers, we regard every staff member in our factory in Galway as being part of the wider Divilly family.”
Divilly Brothers is currently working on a four-part social media campaign with the Oliver Agency, an advertising and marketing agency based in Dublin.
“So far, we have launched two of the four videos that have been created, with others scheduled to be released in July and September,” says Shane.
“Our first video centres around a protest outside our factory by locals who believe that the business is for sale. As we know, many multinational companies have bought family businesses in Ireland, and the video highlights the fear among our consumers that this might happen to Divilly Brothers. This video was a huge success on social media, with many people commenting on how they grew up with our products and have always purchased them, and how their children will eat nothing else but Divilly’s meat products.”
Divilly Brothers’ second video, called ‘Honesty’, was released to promote the new brand.
“The idea with this video was to highlight how Divilly has entered its third generation of ownership within the family,” says Shane.
“It looks at how Peter and I have taken over from our father who has been in charge since he took over from his father, and company founder, Martin, in 1972. Our re-launch occurred on 30 April, which is International Honesty Day, and we felt this was a perfect fit for our brand as it ties in with our motto and with what our operation is all about. We can’t wait to launch our next two videos, which will focus on important milestones in peoples’ lives and on consumer buying patterns.”
The meat industry is increasingly coming under the control of larger producers as smaller local brands disappear. However, the brothers are passionate about their brand and strongly believe that it represents a sound business opportunity for the future.
“The reason we are so confident about our brand and its future growth prospects is down to the pride that we have in our products and in the dedication and professionalism of our team here at the factory in Carnmore,” says Peter.
“Both myself and Shane love the business, and we want to continue the legacy and hopefully, one day, pass this business onto our own children. We love to hear people talking about their favourite product in our range and to see customers selecting our product in store and putting it in their basket.”
To what does he attribute the brand’s loyal following?
“Ultimately, I think our loyal following is down to the consistency of our product, and we are consistently delivering that quality product for sale at affordable prices,” he says.
“Since 2007, I have been the production manager in the factory and I have learned from my father who has passed on all the recipes for our entire product range. We are always trying to improve our products and to develop new products.”
Expanding The Retail Base
Divilly Brothers are launching their brand nationwide this year.
“Our products are available nationwide through BWG Foods, The Barry Group and Gala Retail,” says Shane.
“We have a fantastic relationship with these retailers, and since the launch of the new Divilly Brothers brand, our sales have grown across all the retailers that we work with. We are delighted with the support that we have received from the stores that are stocking our products nationwide.”
Divilly Brothers joined Origin Green in 2018 and Peter says that membership has had an extremely positive impact on the company.
“We recognise that many of the activities of the company have an impact on the environment and it is our aim to reduce the impact of our own emissions through a programme of continuous improvement,” he says.
“Sustainability is central to shaping the future of Divilly Brothers. When the company became verified members of the Bord Bia Origin Green Programme, it was an important milestone for us, and one that provided us with an opportunity to share our environmental and sustainability achievements with our customers and potential customers, and to look to the future and present our ideas for continuous improvement. We believe that the only way to achieve success in the long term is through sustainable action throughout the entire supply chain. It is our firm conviction that sustainable development within Divilly Brothers will benefit our customers, our staff, and the environment.
“Divilly Brothers work very closely with all our suppliers and customers. We strive to provide products that meet and exceed customer expectations in terms of food safety, quality and cost. We believe that Origin Green will enable us to reduce our production costs, and by doing this in a sustainable manner, we will be able to offer savings to our customers. The launch of our ‘Less is Best’ product range in 2015 has already proven to be very successful, and we hope to expand this range in the coming years. And through our membership of the Origin Green Programme, we hope to develop new products which, ultimately, will lead to new customers and new markets for Divilly Brothers."
Divilly Brothers are also looking at expanding their retailer base.
“We are not in a position to elaborate on this yet,” he says.
“However, we are working on expanding the availability of the Divilly Brothers range to other channels, so that consumers have an even wider range of opportunities to purchase our products. For example, we are currently receiving a lot of messages via our Facebook page and website from people who might be living in Gorey, Arklow or Dundalk, who were in Galway for the weekend and tasted our products. They want to know where they can buy our range. Now, with the national approach and the hope that more retailers will come on board with our journey, our products will be available to everyone.”
Where do they see the opportunity for future growth in the grocery retail sector?
“Consumers are becoming more aware of the story behind the products they are buying,” says Shane.
“They want to know who produces the product and what is in the product, and they want to shop local and buy brands that are manufactured locally. Based on the market research that we carried out with Neworld Associates, we believe that we have possibly the best story to tell when it comes to heritage, provenance, traceability, and local sourcing and production.”
Love Irish Food
Divilly Brothers is proud to be a member of the Love Irish Food organisation.
“We see ourselves as being similar to the many other Irish-produced food and drink brands that are Love Irish Food members, as we are honest and humble in our approach to working with our partners in the industry, including retailers, and with our customers,” says Peter. “The focus for us is all about producing consistent quality for our customers and working with retailers to promote our range and deliver a product that offers quality and value for money for their customers.”
According to Shane, the brothers became aware of the impact that the Love Irish Food organisation has on consumers from his partner, who is “a very careful and meticulous” shopper.
“My own partner loves to buy local products and support local businesses,” he says.
“If you look at many of the products that we have in our household, you will always see the Love Irish Food logo. This is very important to our family as it tell us that we are supporting local businesses throughout the country, businesses that are very often family-owned like ourselves and are passionate about what they are producing. These are businesses that are conscientious when it comes to delivering quality and consistency, so we know that we are enjoying the best of what this country has to offer. Love Irish Food is a fantastic organisation to be involved in. The use of their logo on our packaging gives us the quality stamp of approval in the eyes of the consumer. In addition, the ongoing support that we receive from the Love Irish Food organisation in terms of developing our products and advice on business matters is second to none. Kieran Rumley and Andrea Murray always go the extra mile to support your business needs.”
What would he say to other companies that are thinking about joining Love Irish Food?
“Being part of Love Irish Food is a great opportunity for any business,” he says. “You will receive regular support and information to keep your business up-to-date with the latest developments in the market, including regulatory changes. Their assistance in achieving brand recognition and helping you to grow your product with retailers is fantastic. I would highly recommend membership of Love Irish Food to any business that is engaged in the supply of Irish-produced food and drink products.”