VIDEO: Topaz CEO Emmet O'Neill Talks Strategy, Differentiation

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VIDEO: Topaz CEO Emmet O'Neill Talks Strategy, Differentiation


DUBLIN — Irish retailer Topaz has been drawing a lot of attention lately.

Roughly six weeks ago, Circle K parent Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. signed, through one of its wholly owned indirect subsidiaries, an agreement to acquire Topaz. That news came six months after the Topaz convenience store chain won the NACS Insight 2015 International Convenience Retailer of the Year award for its Re.Store convenience forecourt concept, as CSNews Online previously reported.

Recently, Topaz CEO Emmet O'Neill sat down with Insight Managing Director Dan Munford in the latest edition of Insight's Retail Vision "Meet the Boss" series.

As Munford noted, Topaz is well underway in its significant investment and rebrand of Re.Store in the Ireland market.

The chain began the Re.Store program in December 2014 and has completed 82 sites, with the remaining 30 slated to be completed by Dec. 1 of this year, O'Neill shared during the interview.

"It's a $20-million-a-year investment and I say half of it is catchup and half is new investment. We are very excited about it and the results from it have been fantastic," the chief executive said. "It's really working for us."

Speaking about the NACS Insight award, O'Neill recalled that Topaz did not have high expectations when entering the contest since Re.Store was a new concept and a new brand. However, Re.Store got some momentum behind it and the retailer was "blown away."

"When we actually won, the osmosis effect it had throughout the group in terms of 'We're going in the right direction here, we are going on the right track and the brand is actually resonating with people not just in Ireland' was fantastic," O'Neill said.

Part of the changes at Topaz and Re.Store revolve around looking at the forecourt differently — something O'Neill believes comes from Topaz's background as a retailer, not a petroleum company.

"We feel we're retailers and we are looking at our real estate now and figuring out how we can sell more on that space," he said. "Obviously there are limitations on what we can do in the box, so now we are thinking, 'Let's drop new boxes in.'"

For example, Topaz has added a Mexican cantina to six locations to date. The company is also eyeing the addition of bike shops and pharmacies to its retail outlets.

"We really are trying to give customers a different reason to come to our sites, not just fuel as the predominant reason," O'Neill added. "We are trying to flip it on its head."

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