Retail Excellence Ireland Retail Retreat

On Tuesday, May 21st 2024, the StudioForty9 team attended the Retail Excellence Ireland Retail Retreat 2024. This event brings together retailers and industry professionals from all over Ireland.

We were delighted to have our very own Ger Keohane feature as one of the talks on the day's agenda where he discussed clienteling and how to emotionally engage in ecommerce. We also had a booth allowing us the potential to connect with clients.

But of course, the conference wasn't just to showcase our company. We also took the opportunity to attend some of the insightful talks throughout the day. Here are some of the highlights from those speakers:


3 C's of Social Media Success: Lessons from Maeve Dennehy's Retail Journey

Maeve Dennehy, a name synonymous with retail success in Ireland, recently shared her golden nuggets of social media wisdom at REI Retail Retreat. With 12 years in the business and a thriving online presence for her boutique, Maeve's talk focused on the "3 C's of Social Media Success": Consistency, Connection, and Community.

MAeve Dennehy, Love Cherish, REI Retreat 2024

From Window Displays to Social Media Stardom

Maeve's journey began with a clever use of traditional marketing – a photo in the window to pique customer curiosity. This simple act translated beautifully into the digital world when she started using photos of clothes with herself modelling them. This strategy resonated with her audience, who eagerly awaited her daily social media style updates.

Consistency is Key

Maeve emphasises the importance of consistency across all platforms. This means providing the same exceptional customer experience online as you would in-store, and always being available to answer questions and offer style suggestions.

Connecting Through Transparency

Customers crave authenticity. Maeve embraces this by being open and honest with her audience. She hasn't shied away from sharing personal stories, including a period of family loss. This vulnerability has fostered a deeper connection with her followers.

Building a Community

Maeve highlights the power of community building. She started a Marymount fundraiser from day one, donating all profits on their first day to the charity. This commitment to giving back resonated with her audience, solidifying a sense of shared purpose.

Social media played a crucial role in building this community. During the Covid lockdown, Maeve kept the conversation going, offering virtual try-on sessions and maintaining a consistent presence. This dedication further strengthened the bond with her customers.

The Power of Organic Growth

Maeve's approach to social media growth is refreshingly organic. She prioritises building genuine relationships with her audience rather than relying solely on paid advertising. This focus on trust translates into a loyal customer base, as evidenced by the success of her "Oh Molly" clothing line – a sell-out within hours of launch.

Maeve Dennehy, Retail Excellence Ireland Retreat 2024

Key Takeaways:

  • Consistency is king (or queen): Be present and reliable across all platforms.
  • Connect with authenticity: Share your story and be real with your audience.
  • Build a community: Foster a sense of shared purpose and give back to causes you care about.
  • Focus on organic growth: Build trust and relationships, and the sales will follow.

By embracing these "3 C's," Maeve Dennehy has not only built a thriving business but also cultivated a loyal and engaged community. Her story serves as an inspiration for anyone looking to leverage social media for sustainable success.


From Pigs Ears to Pet Retail Empire: Anthony Gallagher's Petstop Journey

Having spent 29 years building Petstop from the ground up Anthony Gallagher is a true leader with pet supplies in Ireland. His recent talk, "From Pigs Ears to Silk Purses," offered a glimpse into his career path and the key moments that shaped Petstop's success story.

An Unexpected Calling

Gallagher's journey into retail began in 1982 after a summer spent in France he returned home to a role sweeping floors at Penneys, quickly climbing the ranks to help the company plan the opening of new stores. This entrepreneurial spirit propelled him into the food industry, where he bought “Gallagher Deli” in 1989 and doubled the value in a single year before selling it on.

A Talent for Transformation

Gallagher's next stop was consulting in London, where he applied the 80/20 rule to re-engineer a warehouse for Quaker Oats, saving them a staggering €1 million. This talent for maximising efficiency would become a cornerstone of Petstop's success.

The Birth of Petstop

In 1995, Gallagher channelled his passion for business into a new venture - Petstop. His focus wasn't just on building a company to sell, but on creating a sustainable entity.

Pivoting Through a Pandemic

A pivotal moment arrived in 2020 with the onset of Covid-19. Thanks to a tip from his daughter in Taiwan about factory closures in China, Gallagher stocked up on supplies, ensuring Petstop had ample inventory when online website orders skyrocketed from 100 to 2,000 per day during lockdown.

Anthony Gallagher, Petstop Ireland, Retail Excellence Ireland Retreat 2024

Growth and Expansion

Petstop has capitalised on this surge, expanding to 14 stores across Ireland, with the recent opening in Douglas being a crowning achievement, even being named National Retailer of the Year! The winning Douglas store focuses on great design, flow and new concepts within the business.

Beyond Retail: Building a Pet Care Brand

Petstop isn't just about selling products. Gallagher has also launched successful pet food brands like Nádúr and premium dog accessory lines like Alice & Co and Clover Dog Treats.


Anthony Gallagher, Petstop Ireland, Retail Retreat 2024, Royal Dublin Convention Centre

Lessons Learned

Anthony Gallagher's story is one of seizing opportunities, embracing change, and prioritising efficiency. His dedication to his customers and his passion for the pet care industry have made Petstop a leading name in Ireland. This journey is a testament to the power of hard work, adaptability, and a deep understanding of the market. Crucially, Anthony emphasises that this success wouldn't be possible without his amazing team, who are the true driving force behind Petstop.


Laura Riches, Laylo, Boxed Wine- The Inspiring Journey of the UK’s Fastest Growing Retail Start Ups

Side Hustle to Start Up

Born from ‘Glass of Wine’ Tuesday, a social meet-up in her previous role in Naked Wines where the company would meet to sample wines. This is where Laura met Laylo co-founder Laura Rosenberger. These weekly wine tastings both highlighted a common frustration - wasted wine from the bottles opened for sampling. This sparked the idea for boxed wine, a method to enjoy a glass of wine without waste, or worrying about oxidised wine the next day or the following weekend.

So they decided to start it as a side project. Having both worked in the industry they knew that combating the reputation of boxed wine was going to be no mean feat! In November 2021, they decided to jump in and invest in over 2000 litres of wine, jokingly acknowledging how the worst case scenario was Christmas presents sorted for everyone. Their initial sales proved to be wildly successful. Within two weeks, they had sold out and over the following Christmas period they both resigned from their day jobs and took the plunge.

Laura Riches, Laylo, Retail Excellence Ireland Retreat 2024

Power of PR

Building on their initial success and both having backgrounds in marketing and the wine industry they decided to invest heavily in PR. However, Laura acknowledged that while press releases can spark interest initially they knew that they would need to do more. This meant embracing the public through social media and beginning to share everything. At first, this seemed daunting but they were aware that sharing their story and brand online became necessary to break through the noise of a saturated industry.

Think Outside the Box

Determined to get Laylo wine noticed, Laura recounted how thinking outside the norm of press releases and samples can help. Laura shared that with a little social stalking, she noticed it was the upcoming birthday of one of the producers of the Sunday Brunch. She decided to wrap boxes of Laylo like a present and headed for the Channel 4 offices. She walked straight to reception and asked for the producer of Sunday Brunch. Noticing all the other products that were sitting alongside the reception, she knew that this ‘gutsy’ move would help make Laylo wine stand out. This was the beginning of the contact that ended up with them featuring on Sunday Brunch.


Andy Farrell, Head Coach IRFU and British and Irish Lions - How to Lead and Create a World-Class Culture

Trust in Your Team

Leading a world-class team may seem like there would be a need for strict strategy and guidelines to follow, but Andy Farrell’s fireside chat at REI Retail Retreat, shows he approaches leadership very differently. When asked to describe his leadership style he explained that you need to create a culture of trust throughout the team. Fostering a level of trust empowers team members to make decisions and gives them ownership over their goals. He further expanded on this by outlining that of course you give examples of and make sure that they work but you also have to give players the space to make mistakes and grow from this. This creates a cohesion that players and coaches alike are contributing and joining forces to perform.

Andy Farrell, IRFU Head Coach, Retail Excellence Ireland Retreat, Royal Dublin Convention Centre

Symbiotic Chaos

Andy outlined that the top coaches have different approaches to their organisation and coaching. It is this diverse leadership style, from those who are meticulously planned to those who are more fluid and adaptable, that creates a symbiotic chaos that leads to a foundation of success.

Create a Sharing Culture

One key approach that Andy Farrell stands by is encouraging critical feedback. He outlined that in the days following matches the players will break into smaller groups and discuss their play. It encourages a space for players to share their own feedback on themselves and others. The players will eventually come together and share this team-wide, but because everything has already been discussed in a smaller team it creates a sharing culture where teams are open to hearing feedback and learning from their mistakes and each other.

Blog Header Image courstesy of Robbie Reynolds Photography

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