Tirlán began an €11 million plus phase 1 investment programme to transform its entire 52-strong local branch network of Tirlán FarmLife and Tirlán CountryLife stores in January this year. Checkout reports on the first two stores to have benefitted from the farmer-owned co-operative’s retail revamp.
This massive investment in upgrading its network of stores is part of a range of measures by Tirlán to future-proof its agri, retail and garden centre services in rural communities across 11 counties.
Retail stores within the estate that primarily offer an agricultural product range are being rebranded to ‘Tirlán FarmLife’, while branches with an added garden centre and broader retail offering are operating under the name ‘Tirlán CountryLife’.
The plan also includes a significant upgrading of branch IT infrastructure with new technologies that will make the overall customer experience more enjoyable and efficient.
Further investment is being rolled out in areas such as people development and training, along with the development of Farm Hardware Centres of Excellence.
The business recently rebranded from Glanbia Ireland to Tirlán and, along with a full programme of work to rebrand its 52-store network, the business is also undergoing a store investment programme to transform the customer experience.
“Our objective is to bring consistency and standardisation into our network,” said Senan Foley, head of retail at Tirlán.
“We will improve the customer experience across all our branches in order to better serve the evolving needs of our customers. Many of these communities have lost their local post office, shops and other services in recent years and we aim to ensure that they remain vibrant and self-sufficient.”
Senan Foley said that every Tirlán CountryLife or FarmLife store should be a place where customers feel at home, can easily find their way around, and be guided to the products they want by knowledgeable staff.
“The creation of a consistent store idea was vital for meeting customer expectations, so when shoppers see the brand name at the entrance, they can be confident that they will have a good experience,” he said. “Once customers step inside, they will know they are in a Tirlán store.”
The redevelopment of stores in Ashford, Monasterevin, Castlelyons and Bennettsbridge is well underway and is scheduled for completion in 2024, and Tirlán will be upgrading and revamping all branches, including those in Dungarvan, Kilmeaden and Tullamore, over the next four to five years.
Foley is impressed by how well the new format is working in the Bunclody and Athboy stores, and by the reception that both stores have received from customers in their local communities.
“It’s early days, but we are already learning a lot from our first two new concept stores,” he said.
“Key findings, including customer feedback, will inform future store developments.”
Perhaps one of the most important key findings from both of these stores is that the makeovers are clearly resonating, not just with their local communities, but at a national level.
For example, the branch in Bunclody was one of 30 stores nationwide in the running for the National Store of the Year award at the 25th annual AIB Merchant Services Retail Excellence Ireland Awards 2023, which took place in the Galmont Hotel in Galway earlier this month.
In addition, Darren Kelly from Tirlán CountryLife in Athboy was one of five finalists for the Manager of the Year award.
Driving Rural Economies
“Tirlán generates €5.5 billion of total economic activity in Ireland and supports over 19,200 direct and indirect jobs, so we’re a significant driver of economic activity in rural localities,” said Tirlán CEO, Jim Bergin.
“Each of our branches plays an important part in our wider business as the face of Tirlán in 52 communities.
This makes them much more than just agri stores and garden centres.
Tirlan is always looking for new opportunities to further evolve our operations, as well as new partners who could enrich our customer experience, or help us to further expand our portfolio of services.”