As the Homestead brand celebrates its 30th anniversary, Checkout looks back at some of the milestones in the brand’s history. This article first appeared in the August 2013 edition of Checkout.
The year 1983 was a busy one for the Irish grocery industry – it was a year that saw the passing away of Dunnes founder Ben Dunne, the Pepsi Challenge rolled into town, and Harp drinkers were first introduced to Sally O’Brien. While the industry has changed considerably in the years since, and many of the big names in retail (H Williams and Quinnsworth, for example) are no longer with us, one initiative founded that year continues to go from strength to strength.
Homestead, currently under the stewardship of independent wholesaler Stonehouse, has become synonymous with quality at the right price, as encapsulated by its longstanding mantra, ‘Homestead. Brings Value Home.’ To commemorate its 30th anniversary this year, the Homestead brand has undergone a redesign, representing a more contemporary style and reinforcing the brand’s quality and value credentials. Ahead of a product overhaul later this year, it’s worth recapping some of the milestones in the history of this popular brand.
In The Beginning
The Homestead brand was formed in early 1983 by the National Grocers Wholesale Alliance (NGWA) as a reaction to the generic yellow-pack and red-label products creeping onto Irish shelves. Following a two-day meeting in Cashel, the committee decided against developing its own generic own-label brand in favour of a branded range of quality products in attractive packaging at a reasonable price. Following a period of consumer research, the name Homestead was chosen, with the Irish-cottage emblem soon becoming an icon for the fledgling product range.
The early signs were good. Major manufacturers such as Jacob’s, Jeyes, Batchelors, McDonnells, Lairds, Mitchelstown, Odlums and Chivers were brought on board to supply products under the Homestead brand, adding gravitas to the product portfolio. Strong brand exposure from the off – including highly coveted advertising slots during the Late Late Show – paid off for the brand, while its use of both Irish (‘Fiúntas ag teacht chun tí’) and English in its commercials emphasised its local credentials.
In 2001, Homestead was awarded the title of Radio Ad of the Century for its ‘Ida Lovett’ commercial, featuring comedienne Rosaleen Linehan. The commercial beat several multinationals in the process, many of which boasted marketing budgets far in excess of Homestead’s. Six years later, the brand was celebrating again, as it was included in the Irish Independent’s ‘Great Irish Brands’ edition, alongside FMCG giants such as Guinness, Kerrygold, Tayto and Lyons Tea.
As well as delivering quality at the right price to consumers, the Homestead brand has always been heavily involved in local communities, including many local charities. Over the years, the brand has released the Homestead Food for Thought book (which made it to the best-seller list) to raise funds for St Luke’s Hospital, and was a designated Friend of the Special Olympics when the event came to Ireland in 2003.
The most ambitious campaign that the brand launched, however, was the adoption of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, as its special charity. Homestead initially committed to pledging approximately €500,000 to the hospital, but has exceeded that total substantially, having donated over €800,000 to the hospital to date. It has assisted in the creation of two ‘Homestead Home from Home’ facilities within the hospital, one of which is used by parents of long-term-stay patients as an area to relax, catch up on the news, have a cup of coffee or simply take a few minutes to unwind. A second Homestead unit has now been furnished in the intensive care unit for the nursing staff.
Following five years of loyal support to the children’s hospital, Homestead is set to reveal details of another charity tie-up, with the St Vincent de Paul Society, over the coming months. In the autumn, a Homestead hamper campaign for St Vincent de Paul will be presented to all Stonehouse members.
Looking To The Future
With over 100 products now in its portfolio, and total sales of approximately half a billion euro worth of products over the past 30 years – many of which were Irish made – Homestead has every reason to be optimistic about the next three decades.
With a new brand identity and willingness to continue to innovate in order to provide quality and value, the Homestead brand has well surpassed what it sought to achieve in 1983. Because, as we all already know, ‘Homestead. Brings Value Home’.