herald

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Success and the city. . . It may have gone global, but Avoca is still a family-run affair

PLANS: New base set for Malahide Castle this summer

IRISH family-run business Avoca has now expanded to 1,500 shops globally but owners are keen to retain the homemade feel of the store.

Avoca has grown from humble beginnings over 30 years ago when solicitor Donald Pratt and his wife Hilary stepped in to save the fate of an 18th-century woollen mill.

Now their four children -- Ivan, Vanessa, Amanda and Simon -- are all equal partner directors and are involved in the day-to-day running of the business.

Simon is the foodie behind part of the company's success and is now driving the store's retail development.

The company, which employs over 600 staff, has unveiled plans to open a new base at Malahide Castle in the summer.

The shop, foodhall and cafe will be located in a new 19,000sq ft building, which is under construction.

The Avoca shop is being built in a disused cattle yard and will have a similar format to its larger stores at Kilmacanogue and Rathcoole. It's all part of the €10m development plan for the north county Dublin heritage site.

Director Simon Pratt said that the move was bringing an additional 80 jobs to the region as the company grew from strength to strength.



EXPANSION

"We sell our fashion range which is called Avoca Anthology and our homewares range which is called Avoca Nest to 1,500 shops around the world," he told the Herald.

"For Christmas we had six pop up shops in some of John Lewis's key stores."

But although the company has one eye on expansion, Mr Pratt said that they were eager to find the right balance so that the home-cooked, homemade brand doesn't become diluted.

"I think we have to be careful not to try to have too many stores," he said.

"I think that we have been very fortunate and that our staff have worked fantastically hard to keep the company prospering. We have recently opened a food market and cafe in Monkstown.

"For the moment we will focus on trying to ensure that Malahide and Monkstown are working well."

The retailer has recorded a 3pc rise in profits in 2011, having opened the Monkstown store last November.

And one of reasons behind the healthy returns was due to sales of pre-packed meals which have rocketed during the recession.

"When most of us have curtailed big spends, we still like to get out and about and are in need of a little cheer," Mr Pratt said.

clairemurphy@herald.ie

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