Centra Curr Road, Beragh
From left, Naomi Curry, Nigel Maxwell, Centra sales director, and Martin Curry.
Naomi Curry’s first year in operation may have been one to remember, opening her new store only months before the pandemic, but a bright & welcoming environment & extensive food-to-go range soon pulled in the locals, she tells UG
We wanted to create the feel of a destination,” says Naomi Curry, owner of Centra Curr Road in Beragh. “We always envisaged it would be full of transient customers, families, friends and ladies meeting up for coffee. We’ve had families meeting up and having a birthday party in the seating area and could see the potential starting to grow at the beginning of 2020 when it was becoming a destination on this route for people to meet.”
Naomi, who has a background in property, purchased the site back in 2014 and leased it out as a small Day Today store before making her own foray into retail. With the A5 an important link for travellers from Belfast to Derry, as well as cross border, she identified greater potential for the Co Tyrone site.
“We had thought about doing an extension to the current shop and then decided to go full steam ahead and redevelop the whole site,” says Naomi, with work commencing in June and completed in November 2019.
A strong food-to-go offer, the popular Frank and Honest coffee brand and Centra’s fresh design concept sealed the deal for Naomi in choosing Musgrave NI as her retail partner for the redevelopment project.
FANTASTIC FOOD TO GO
A particularly appealing feature of the Musgrave food-to-go proposition was “the support package that came along with it, the systems and procedures already in place to help everything run smoothly from an operations perspective,” says Rosaleen Molloy, food-to-go manager.
With the new store totalling 3,000 square feet, its extensive food-to-go range encompasses a deli counter, gourmet sandwich bar, carvery station, hot serve counter including pre-packed dishes, Frank and Honest coffee dock and Parlour 64 – its own brand of ice cream, milkshakes, and sundaes.
Alongside all the staples you would expect to find, an extensive grocery range includes Musgrave’s high-quality chilled produce lines, a strong bakery offering supplemented by local brands such as McCloskey’s, and an off licence.
Fully accessible rest services include restrooms, toilets, a baby change facility, a seating area, WiFi, USB charging ports and an ATM, while parking access was just completed last month for heavy goods vehicles alongside regular car parking, picnic facilities and an extensive forecourt operation.
“We have a strong fuel brand in partnership with Emo,” says Naomi, with the forecourt including a standalone AdBlue pump for newer cars and lorries and Air-Serv air and water facilities.
The business is open until 10pm each day, from 5.30am Monday to Friday, 6.30am on Saturday and 7am on Sunday. It employs a staff of 30 full- and part-time workers, “and we now have highly-skilled counter assistants,” says Naomi.
Dealing with the pandemic has been a mixed experience, she says. “It’s been challenging to protect our customers and staff. The key was to keep everyone safe, and it’s always at the back of your mind. We’ve all our procedures in place for Covid; floor markings and screens in full compliance with all Government guidelines.”
Nigel Maxwell, Centra sales director, is quick to praise Naomi and her team for their agile approach during the store’s first year in business. “To operate so well during what has been a challenging year for retail is testament to the great team in place at Curr Road,” he says.
DIVERSE CUSTOMER BASE
“There was a lot of uncertainty back in March because we knew we were on a transient site and relied heavily on commuters, but on the flip side, our local community supported us and continue to do so,” says Naomi. “We have built relationships with our local customers over the last eight months as we offer so much more than a pit stop. We are a food market store and, at a time when customers are choosing to support local, we are delighted to be there for our community.
“Our aim was to create a destination for everyone, and I am very proud that we have achieved this. Our customers really appreciate the vast array of services and facilities we are providing.”
Naomi believes the quality of her offer and the store’s unique position on the north side of the A5 place it well in terms of competitiveness. “The key thing is we are a cross-border corridor and the road needed an offering like this for such a long time,” she says.
FOCUS ON DIGITAL
“What we’re seeing more recently is people are now shopping our offers and the promotions currently running, and we’re getting that message across to the public by social media,” says Rosaleen.
Marketing is focused on building a strong social media following for the business. “We’ve just recently implemented our marketing plan,” she says. “Naomi and I and are in the first stages of bringing that to life and, to start off, we hired a local company here from Omagh to produce a video of all the facilities on site.”
The slick footage, showing off the store “to its full glory” says Naomi, is featured on the store’s Facebook page. “That was the first thing that really kicked off our first-year anniversary celebrations.”
And from December 1, Centra Curr Road ran a 12 days of Christmas giveaway instore and on Facebook, rewarding local customers with an opportunity to win a prize each day.
Over Halloween, staff dressed up to raise funds for Action Cancer, Centra’s long-standing charity partner. “The locals loved that,” says Naomi. “It really perked everybody up during Covid as well.”
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Like many businesses, Brexit is a concern. Looking ahead, “let’s hope January 2021 can go smoothly,” says Naomi. “We do a lot of cross-border trade, so we’ll be looking at that carefully in the New Year to see if things keep moving.”
Nonetheless Naomi is optimistic about prospects for the shop in 2021 and has big plans to expand its range and tap into greater opportunities for food to go in the summer.
“Ice cream really trended in the summer and that is something we’d like to look at for next summer – ice cream and picnic facilities,” says Naomi.
“We do have a lot of trade from passers-by and many people travelling with their dogs who have welcomed the opportunity to stop, take a break and have a walk around.”
“There’s so much potential for our store which I am excited to untap. While 2020 has kept us busy, we have been restricted in terms of what the store can achieve. I’m looking forward to 2021 with optimism and seeing what else is in store for Centra Curr Road – watch this space.”