What it does: Sportswear Shop
Why it works: ”People are active and we want to make sure they have the support and advice they need to fully enjoy their training or leisure activity. Our tagline is gear up for life’ because that’s exactly what we want to help people do. Michael Murphy, co-founder, Michael Murphy Sports and Leisure
Today’s priority for Donegal GAA stars Michael Murphy and Neil Gallagher will be the All Ireland semi-final against Dublin in Croke Park, but the pair are already gearing up for a future in retail. They are hitting the ground running with a €500,000 investment in a top-end sportswear outlet in Letterkenny.
Michael Murphy Sports and Leisure opened its doors earlier this month on the Station Roundabout, creating 15 new jobs.
The launch of the 7,000 square foot store marked an important personal milestone for Murphy. He approached Gallagher to join him in setting up a state-of-the-art operation that would hit every sporting demographic in the northwest.
“We wanted to create the kind of sports store we would want to shop in ourselves,” he said. “Our focus is on expert advice – making sure people get the right product for their individual needs.
“We’ve been buying sports gear all our lives. We understand the importance of getting the right advice and the right product for your needs and we felt there was a gap in the market.”
The 7,000 sq ft shop is divided into zones for different sports, and there is a dedicated team room for clubs and associations.
Sporting brands include O’Neills, Nike, Adidas, Asics, Puma, Mizuno and Canterbury. Murphy said it had the “north-west’s only comprehensive stock of golfing brands”, including Callaway, Ping, Titleist, Clevland and Srixon.
“We have a custom-built golf section with the northwest’s only golf simulator, which gives customers access to cutting-edge technology to help improve their game, and they can book a golf lesson with our in-house professional,” he said.
“The footwear section has a gait analysis machine to ensure each customer gets a perfectly tailored fit.
“Sportswear can be personalised in-store while you wait, and we also have the largest trophy centre in the north-west with an extensive trophy and medal selection and an engraving service for schools, clubs and sporting organisations.”
Murphy and Gallagher are in the process of launching the website michaelmurphysports.ie to sell to customers in Ireland and overseas.
“Our focus is on getting our website fully transactional. We want to build a national brand that also reaches out to the Irish community abroad and we hope to do this in the next five years,” said Murphy.
The site would cast the net as wide as possible, he added, with sports clothing and footwear catering to all aspects of the market – from first-timers and amateurs to students, professionals, and “those who simply want to be more active.”
Murphy and Gallagher are also using social media to promote and market the venture.
“The power it has is amazing,” said Murphy. “We reached over 10,000 likes in our first week of business. We find it’s a really useful tool to share our news and special offers with customers.
“It’s really important to give good service, whether that’s getting back to people’s queries on social media or going the extra mile for someone in store.”
The pair have also invested in cutting-edge retail technology to coordinate all customer-related activities on one system, including mobile, point-of-sale, loyalty, analytics and smart phone promotions.
“We selected the iVend Omni Channel solution from TRC Solutions. All data is centralised making reporting easy, fast and accurate,” said Murphy.
“I can pull reports in real-time, which gives me a true account of how the business is performing. It also highlights opportunities for growth and for change.”
Murphy believes it is a good time to get into the sports retail market, as interest in exercise, fitness and outdoor activities is on the rise in Ireland.
“There are thousands of people engaging in sports across the country and activities like cycling and triathlons are on the increase,” he said.
“The Donegal Marathon took place for the first time in over 20 years earlier this month. People are active and we want to make sure they have the support and advice they need to fully enjoy their training or leisure activity. Our tagline is ‘gear up for life’ because that’s exactly what we want to help people do.”