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10 Quick Fire Questions with Willie Forde

Company : Furey Smyth Group

Number of Stores : 7

Number of Employees : 400

Years in Existence : 25

1 – What made you choose CBE as your EPoS supplier?

Before we joined BWG we had CBE as our EPOS supplier. We have always had a good relationship with CBE and have been happy with the products and service they provide. They are the best at what they do in my opinion. Any small issues that may occur, are dealt with promptly and efficiently.

2 – What are the main trends you are observing within your industry?

I suppose the biggest trend I have noticed since Covid hit is that people are taking pride in shopping and supporting local businesses. We have seen a lot of new faces in our stores and we have retained them, which I believe is down to the friendly service that we provide in all our stores within the group. We make every customer feel welcome and that’s not a service that bigger retailers may be able to offer.

3 – Can you describe what a typical working day looks like for you?

A typical day for me would always be planned the previous day. I would normally visit a few stores within the group, probably 2 or 3. I would liaise with management and staff within stores while also being in contact with our area managers throughout the day.

4 – What do you love about your job?

I know it probably sounds cliché but everyday is different in my job. I love going to stores and meeting the staff. Every person is unique in their own way and I love seeing them progressing. I get a great sense of pride in helping the stores to look the best they can be, whether it’s for different seasonal events like easter, Christmas or just a normal day.

5 – What do you feel is your greatest strength?

I am a very good communicator. I would also like to think I’m very open-minded. I am not afraid to embrace new idea’s and try them in stores. At the end of the day, it’s about having that wow factor within stores that retains your customers. You must stand out from the competition.

6 – How do you think your employees would describe you?

I would say I’m seen as a very hardworking person. I’d consider myself as very fair and reasonable and I have no doubt that staff find me very approachable.

7 – What job role within your company would you be terrible at?

Absolutely hate admin work. It just doesn’t suit me to be sitting down in an office. I like to be up on my feet and being active.

8 – What is the most heartwarming thing you have ever seen an employee do for a customer?

There has been so many, but one that stands out to me happened recently when I was visiting one of our stores. I observed a staff member asking a lady at the checkout how her mother was, and they proceeded to have a conversation. When the customer was served, the staff member approached me and asked if she could take her break early, which of course wasn’t an issue. The customer’s elderly mother had been sitting in her car in the car park while her daughter was shopping as she was afraid to come in with the pandemic. The staff member grabbed a chair and had her break drinking tea sitting beside the car chatting to the elderly woman.

9 – How do you relax after a hard day at work?

Home to more hardship. Ah no, I’d be very involved in local organisations, and there’s always something to attend. It’s a very nice way of passing the long dark evenings. When the evening’s do get a little longer, I would be fond of the odd game of golf

10 – Finally, if you could have lunch with one person, who would it be, and why?

From a retail point of view, I would have to say Ben Dunne, quite a controversial figure I know, but he was a genius when it came to retail. I wouldn’t mind quizzing him on where his retailing ideas came from.

From a sporting point of view, I would have to say Roy Keane. I don’t think it needs explaining, I’m sure he’d be at the top of most Irish peoples lists.

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