Conversation in store led to job as manager for Deborah

The Kilkenny Shop on Emmet Place has put Irish craft and design at the heart of Cork City for more than a decade.
Conversation in store led to job as manager for Deborah
Deborah Mullally, store manager, in the Kilkenny store, Emmet Place, Cork.

Tell us how the Kilkenny shop started in Cork?

Kilkenny is an Irish owned business, run by Marian O’Gorman and her family who are from Cork. The Group has 15 stores nationwide (13 Kilkenny Stores and 2 Christy’s stores), 2 award winning cafes and a thriving online store.

Kilkenny Shop on Emmet Place in Cork City was opened 12 years ago in 2007.

How did you get involved?

I started in Kilkenny a year ago. My husband was relocating to Cork, and I had a job lined up, but as fate had it, I went shopping in Kilkenny Shop in Galway and started chatting to the store manager. I fell in love with the brand and the company. A couple of weeks later a recruiter called me and the rest is history.

What are your staff like?

We always invest in exceptional and experienced staff, who ensure that service and customer expectations are exceeded. We continuously train and develop our team, as they are the ones that represent the Kilkenny brand to our customers.

Our company ethos is to “surround yourself with the very best people, as you’re only as good as your team”. We’re also delighted to get involved in Cork City’s Customer Service Charter, which aims to make Cork City the best in Europe for customer service.

What are your customers like?

Our customers range from people searching for engagement, wedding, house-warming and retirement gifts, to women looking for quality clothing that will stand the test of time, to the fashion-conscious who love our stand-out jewellery and accessories. We also attract a lot of home owners and interior designers for our home products, and tourists visiting Cork City.

What do you offer in store?

The store sells a range of casual fashion, knitwear, outerwear and accessories (handbags, hats, scarves etc), handmade jewellery, stunning art, dazzling crystal, hand-thrown pottery, quirky books, and a wide range of gifts. We also have a new wellness beauty section with products from Voya, Pestle & Mortar, the Handmade Soap Company and more.

Some of our most popular products include Jo Harpur and Enibas jewellery, The White Stuff outerwear clothing, Max Benjamin luxury candles and diffusers, Nicholas Mosse pottery, Orla Kiely accessories and homeware, throws and textiles by McNutt and Foxford, Belinda Northcote Art, and one of our relatively new artists, Eoin O’Connor.

What is the market like for Irish craft and design, and what is the quality of the items like?

Kilkenny has always been at the forefront of promoting the finest Irish craft and design and is home to Ireland’s largest collection of Irish designers.

Irish people like supporting local, so there is always a lot of demand for our Irish designers, and the quality of these products are superior.

The founder of our company, Marian O’Gorman, credits much of the company’s success over the years to an unwavering dedication to developing new Irish designers and promoting the finest Irish craftsmanship and design. The company has launched many designer careers including Orla Kiely, Chupi and Rebeka Kahn.

How has trade changed in the years since it opened?

Customers no longer see a distinction between online and offline shopping. We embraced this new reality and were one of the first companies in Cork to have a digital presence. Often customers research products online, and then shop in our store. Word of mouth via social media has also become a social force that transforms new products into must-haves, so we ensure that our products are displayed to encourage ‘Instagrammable’ photos as much as possible. Positive reviews are also crucial to business sustainability.

What's it like operating as part of a larger chain?

Kilkenny is a family business so it doesn’t feel like you’re part of a big chain. It is, of course, fantastic to share our learnings and have a national presence. We all work together collaboratively.

What sets the shop apart from others in the city?

Our focus on Irish design and our gorgeous range of gifts for every occasion is what sets us apart. Visiting the Kilkenny Shop is always a new enhancing experience as we put so much focus on customer experience. For example, at present, we are offering personalised hand scrubs and massages by trained team members to introduce our customers to the wellness products we have on offer. We also regularly hold in-store events – most recently with blogger Louise O’Connell to promote our Cluse watches. And we have personal shoppers in our Cork City store to ensure customers have the best experience possible.

What's in the future for the business?

Focusing on future trends is a must for any retail company. We have a thriving online business but we also know that customers still want the bricks and mortar store, they want to feel and smell products, and they want excellent customer service.

We hope that the Cork Events Centre comes to fruition as that would drive significant footfall into the city centre, and we look forward to new public transport system, like the proposed light rail. We are also excited about welcoming new tourists, like the French market that Pure Cork and Tourism Ireland are actively marketing to.

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