The Cashel store, one of ten businesses in the Kilkenny group, is slowly increasing its sales from last year and is one of the best performing stores in the group. A healthy business is hard to come by these days with most companies trying to simply stay afloat, but that’s not the case of the Kilkenny group who are constantly growing and building their brand.
The Kilkenny group name has been synonymous with Irish design and craft for over four decades and now they are recruiting new employees, recently revamped their website and on the look-out for a new store location.
Speaking to director of the Kilkenny group Marian O’Gorman and her son, the marketing director, Gregory O’Gorman, I was surprised to learn that 75% of their customer base is Irish.
“We’re often thought of as a tourist shop because one of our stores is in Nassau street but the majority of our business comes from Irish customers,” says Gregory O’Gorman.
The Kilkenny group were supporting Irish designers and products long before it became popular to ‘buy Irish’.
Mr O’Gorman adds: “We’ve never derailed from the original ethos set out in 1963 to support young and upcoming Irish designers. We never forgot that and never made the transition to what might have been popular at certain times, I think that has come full circle now and is paying back.”
The Kilkenny group which is currently hiring (see http://www.kilkennyshop.com/careers) bases part of its success on its emphasis on customer service as Marian O’Gorman explains: “We do everything with our customers in mind. We’re very customer-focused and are always training and re-training our staff.”
“Things like gift-wrapping, we put the same care into our service whether you are spending E5 or E50 and I think this reflects in our customer’s loyalty and continuing to come back to the store time and again,” intercedes Gregory O’Gorman.
The Kilkenny shops stock everything from women’s fashion and jewellery to pottery and linens. The range of Irish designers include the Orla Kiely brand, Newbridge, Waterford, Galway and Tipperary Crystal as well as Stephen Pearce and Luis Mulcachy.
But it’s not just the high-end of Irish design that the Kilkenny shops stock, they are always on the lookout for upcoming and new talent.
The company is continuously adding new Irish designs and products to their store like Amanda Murphy, the Waterford ceramics designer and Vera Gaffney, the Roscommon-based painter.
“We encourage new designers to send in their samples or e-mail us about their unique product. We have buyers always checking out trade fairs and shows for the next big thing. Often we’ll give advice and support to Irish designers if their product isn’t as price conscious as it could be. We always welcome unique, hand crafted products, that are of good quality,” says Marian O’Gorman.
The Cashel branch of the Kilkenny shop has just launched its Autumn/winter fashion collection with a fabulous range of clothing and accessories, including popular Irish brand, fee G.
The Cashel store is also one of the biggest stockists of the Orla Kiely range, whose popularity is constantly growing.
“We are always expanding the Orla Kiely range, with everything from umbrellas to ceramics to handbags, wallets and linens,” adds Mrs O’Gorman.
With ten stores and their newly revamped website (www.kilkennyshop.com), the company currently employs 225 people and this is expected to rise to the 250 mark in the next 6-8 months as they look to expand into newer locations.