Trends & Features

6 key facts about Irelands new buying group

John O’Leary (pictured) talks about setting up Retail Sports Ireland

Why did you set up Retail Sports Ireland?
I was a member of the Independent Sports Retailer Alliance until February last year. But last spring everyone in the ISRA family felt the group had run its course, so we went our separate ways. However, a core group of us still wanted to collaborate and we soon established we weren’t alone – and Retail Sports Ireland was born.

What’s different about RSI?
We’ve taken the best ideas and practices from all the buying groups we’ve encountered and moulded them into our own members’ charter. The result is a group that’s led by committee, member empowered and focused on developing quality relationships between its members and the supply chain.

How does RSI help you to compete?
Group members are predominantly sports specialists who share information, expertise, learning and analysis. This elevates each of us in our own markets as leaders in our respective fields. We are the destination providers of specialist sporting goods and services in our catchment areas. This is a bold statement, but we have the trust of every member and the back up of each to make such a claim.

How do RSI members deliver a specialist service?
In retail these days, everyone is competing on streetwear and sports fashion. The specialist sector is difficult to command because the expertise is in its people. Other sectors suffer from high staff turnover, which is not conducive to delivering a consistent high standard of service. Our members work on the shop floor, giving us an advantage when it comes to delivering a quality service.

How does RSI work as a buying group?
There are no paid executives in RSI. It is an expectation and a condition of membership that you contribute your time and expertise to your fellow members.

How do members contribute?
We have broken down the business into categories and each member is responsible for managing at least one category for the group. Members are tasked with surveying and learning their categories in each member’s store. They then manage that function of the business on everyone’s behalf. Externally it functions like any other group – building supplier relationships, negotiating trade and collaborating with them on specific projects.

Read the full article in the January issue of Sports Insight magazine. You can subscribe for free here:

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