Leadership Insights: Joe Doyle on listening to customers

Joe Doyle, founder of Donnybrook Fair, speaking at a recent business seminar co-hosted by Crowe.


Joe Doyle - Crowe Ireland

Drawing on Crowe’s experience of helping clients build lasting value in their businesses and to mark the launch of our new Leadership Insights magazine, we are delighted to launch a special ‘Building Business Value’ series in conjunction with five of Ireland’s most successful business leaders.

Crowe partner Brian Geraghty comments, “We work with clients who are looking to prepare their business for sale. By critically analysing their business, we can identify and leverage the key value drivers specific to them and maximise the value, and sale price, of the business.”

“We believe that crucial lessons can be learned from the experience of others. For this reason, we have collaborated with business leaders to discuss key drivers they have leveraged to scale their business and building long-term value.”

Joe Doyle talks about his journey with Donnybrook fair and the importance of listening to and understanding his customer and their needs.

Watch your competitors and listen to your customers
Having started out in business in 1966, Donnybrook Fair founder Joe Doyle has seen a lot of change, and learned that adaptability is crucial. His journey has seen him move from a butcher shop to a chain of gourmet food stores with a focus on pre-prepared food.

After starting out in Bray, then moving to Shankhill, Doyle got the opportunity in 1992 to acquire the store that became his first Donnybrook Fair in Donnybrook village. “The customer in that part of the city was a very friendly, open sort of person and I got a lot of advice from customers, more than anyone else, through my career, and I got the confidence to be able to talk to people and ask them for their ideas and help.”

He began to look at competitors within the sector, like Superquinn and in particular Marks & Spencer. His vision was that if he could deliver personal customer service alongside pre-prepared readymade meals and food that people could take home, there was a business opportunity there. Reacting to the busier lives of customers and creating pre-prepared meals gave his business a USP.

Developing in-store kitchens in the basement of the Donnybrook store meant he could acquire more stores in Baggot Street and Greystones. After a period of growth, Doyle eventually moved to standalone kitchens in Clondalkin. Even though Doyle sold to the Musgrave Group late last year, one of his sons still runs this arm of the business.

“They’ve taken it on and they are going to keep the brand and develop the brand, and I am working with them to see that vision go further.”

One piece of advice: “It’s all about customer service and looking after the customer—pick your people and train and empower your people to deliver that for your business.”

As a leading accountancy and business advisory firm in Ireland, Crowe has been supporting and growing Irish businesses for over 75 years. We have an unrivalled understanding of the Irish business environment and pride ourselves on delivering hard-working, practical solutions to all our clients’ business challenges.

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