Greenes Shoes, a family business, began trading in 1988 in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal. Previously, the family operated a large retail department store in Letterkenny and other businesses since the foundation of the original drapery by Orla’s grandfather in 1939. Greenes Shoes now has 6 stores in Donegal, Galway and Limerick and employs 30 staff.
Orla McFadden has been involved with the business with her uncle since 1991 and is now responsible for the day to day management of the business. As well as the family’s drapery and department stores, Orla’s parents ran a local hardware shop for many years.
Why participate in the programme
The business has suffered as a result of the economic downturn with buying habits changing radically in a very short period of time. Orla recognised that she was spending a lot of time on day to day activities and was not able to spend sufficient time on planning and developing the business. Orla already had a practice of establishing objectives on an annual basis, but was often frustrated by the lack of progress towards her own goals.
A direct approach from ManagementWorks was timely. The inclusion of mentoring as a central element of the programme was a critical factor in the decision to participate.
Experience of the programme to date
Orla enjoyed the programme immensely and found the engagement with the other business owners to be very useful.
Orla was surprised at how effective the programme was as she had participated in management development programmes previously, but had often not implemented the learning due to pressure of work. The combination of good workshops and the discipline of the mentoring meetings, allowed much more progress than she had expected.
Impact on their business
The primary impact for Greenes Shoes has related to staff engagement and internal communication issues. Orla brought 12 of her key staff together from all 6 stores for the first time and discussed a range of issues about the business. Regular meetings of the store managers/supervisors are now a feature of how the business is managed. Simple but effective communication techniques have been introduced which are allowing Orla to both share her knowledge of the business with key staff but also to leverage the staff’s abilities more effectively. This is allowing more structure to be introduced to the business, which is critical if Orla is to be in a position to deliver on her ambition to expand the business in terms of sales and locations.