retail news in context, analysis with attitude

We keep getting email about Superquinn, such as this one from MNB user Jack Allen:

Many years ago I participated in a planning session for a CIES marketing conference which was conducted at the headquarters of Superquinn. This was the first time I had the opportunity to visit Ireland, the birth place of my dad. I had been brought up spending many Sundays visiting my grandparents home in Brooklyn where I developed a taste (and a craving) for my grandmother’s home baked Irish bread - soda bread. During a mid-morning break at the planning session, I headed down to the store where upon entering I discovered the bakery displaying just what I was hoping to find. I bought a loaf of Irish bread, walked out to the parking lot and ate it—returning to the conference table a happy camper.

I once related this incident to Feargal who seemed to take great pleasure in the happiness this event brought me.

The extraordinary thing about Superquinn is that customers knew when the bread would come out hot and fresh, and they’d time their visits to the store to coincide with its availability. Because when it was gone, it was gone. Until the same time the next day.

Another MNB user wrote:

On Superquinn, isn’t one measure of the importance of a company the legacy developed and passed on by leadership to ensure that the enterprise is an ongoing concern? Doesn’t leadership have this obligation to their employees, stockholders, etc.?

The book “Built To Last” years ago explored the importance of not running your business based on a person or a personality, but instead, building a company on values that would last. These values would be instilled in a company by great leaders like Feargal Quinn.

The goal of a business should be to continue to operate and thrive even after the founder or leader is no longer in charge. I believe that this is the quintessential goal of all businesses. As my mom and dad taught me, leave a place nicer than when you arrived!

All true.

Except that once you’ve sold the company, you don’t usually have much influence over the new owners. And if they decide to focus on things other than the chain’s core values, and make mistakes that disenfranchise customers, there’s not much that a founder can do about that.

On another subject, an MNB user wrote:

Sansolo whines about the lack of information available in an older ballpark. Just what is he going to do with all that truly meaningless information that he really does not need to know.  In my opinion, all the bells and whistles of the new parks  only allows us to pack our brains with information so we can be kept busy.  We no longer talk, we text. We no longer talk, we read information between innings because our short American attention spans must continually be occupied and we couldn't talk anyway because there will be loud music playing.  I use technology and am all for the progress it brings and the easier life but it seems that sometimes the loss of humanity is too large a price to pay for knowing the speed of a pitch.  A separate issue -What percentage of our population can even afford to go to a professional game?

When I go to the grocery store I want a clean store with fair prices and organic produce. I know what all the bells and whistles really do and that is drive prices up.  Check out the prices at the new Yankee stadium.

I’m not sure that Michael was whining. I also think that he wasn’t suggesting that the technological bells and whistles were the core of the experience, but rather valuable and enjoyable complimentary elements that make the experience better. There’s a big difference ... and the metaphor carries over to retailing, and the difference between strategic planning and the implementation of tactics that support the strategy.

Regarding the guy who quit Whole Foods and then wrote an uncomplimentary email about the company that was sent to every employee there - and then went viral on the internet - one MNB user wrote:

With regard to the ex-employee – Of course the company disagrees and guess what?  It’s likely they don’t give a rat’s patooty what you think.  Welcome to Corporate America buddy.  If you don’t want to run into the same thing as you look for other employment, start your own business and make your own rules (be sure you treat your employees as you would’ve liked to have been treated) or work for a small company that doesn’t have time to waste on mission statements hanging on a wall that only collect dust.  Accountability for following those ideals?  Don’t frustrate yourself – it’s a waste of time and energy as there are few corporations that walk the talk.  At the same time I would ask you to hold yourself accountable, in any job, for doing your best and earning that paycheck.  In the end, that’s really the only power we have that is our very own wherever we are and in whatever we do no matter how big the brother may be.

I’ve been around the block a few times.  I’ve seen good management and mismanagement and I’d never want to be in management.  My main purpose is to put food on the table and a roof over my head, so I constantly need to remind myself to “be a duck” (let the $%^& slide off your feathers).

Geez. You’re more cynical than I am.
MNB user Mike Franklin wrote:

What employer, after checking this individuals Internet postings, would hire this guy. The ex-employee may feel better, but he just limited his future!  We must all learn how to use the Internet more effectively, efficiently, prudently and judiciously!


I guess it all depends on what your next career move is.

My favorite resignation letter of all time was written by Robert B. Parker - who went on to write the Spenser novels - on August 15, 1962. He was resigning from what must have been an awful PR job, and he wrote:


I hereby resign from The Prudential Insurance Company of America, effective September 1, 1962.

Looking back over my years with the company, I note that there have been three of them.


Robert B. Parker

Exactly what we’d expect from the man who was the heir to the Raymond Chandler legacy. Chandler, of course, created Philip Marlowe, who once said, “I test very high on insubordination…”
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