Cork retailer Maher Sports has launched two new ventures in the past six weeks, leveraging existing locations and expertise to take the company to the next level.
‘‘Our most recent venture is a baby nursery called Baby & Nursery@North Main Street, which opened late last month,’’ said Yvonne Maher, director of Maher Sports. ‘‘We noticed a baby boom happening and did some research around the Cork area. There has been a lot of interest so far as there is nowhere else like this really in the northside of the city.’’
The nursery, which employs five staff, is located in the retailer’s existing outlet on Cork’s North Main Street. ‘‘We have split the store down the middle, but people can flow easily from one side to the other,’’ said Maher.
‘‘There is a natural opportunity for potential customers to come from the baby side into where we have the children’s sportswear and equipment. Staff can float between the two also, but we do have specialist baby and nursery staff.’’
The company has also refitted another outlet to open The Runners Loft@Maher Sports on Oliver Plunkett Street. ‘‘These recessionary times mean there are a lot of people running and cycling at the moment. People have not renewed their gym memberships, and others also have a little more time on their hands right now,’’ said Maher.
‘‘We always did running and athletic gear, but we decided to put it all into one centre and expand the selection. It opened in early April as a big department within our Oliver Plunkett Street store.’’ Established in 1972, Maher Sports has since grown to employ 55 staff in five stores, increasing to 80 during peak summer and Christmas periods. The company encourages staff to write regular sports blogs on the company’s website.
Building trust online
‘‘The idea is that, if customers read the blog online, they will come into the store,’’Maher said. ‘‘Blogging helps with credibility and building trust with customers.’’ Maher said that the company was keeping a careful eye on stock levels in a tough market. ‘‘With any retail store, there is a constant battle between ensuring you keep stock to a minimum,while also ensuring you always have what your customer needs and wants,’’ she said.
‘‘We have to order stock six months in advance, and so many things can change in the interim period. Our advantage is that the company has been through recessions before, so our experience helps us get through.’’ Maher Sports plans to increase its bulk-order sports club and commercial business with the provision of specialist advice,training and equipment installation.
Integral part of the business
‘‘We have developed a brochure specialising in this and have dedicated staff members, whose job is to go around the commercial clubs and centres in the area,’’ said Maher. ‘‘That is something we are only developing at the moment, but we see this as an integral part of the business going forward.’’