Mairtin KellyA DONEGAL retailer is celebrating being after being names as a finalist in Ireland’s Forecourt & Convenience Retailer Awards (IFCR) 2014.Mairtin Kelly from Kelly’s Centra at Mountain Top in Letterkenny will now battle it out at the 8th annual Ireland’s Forecourt & Convenience Retailer Awards to be held in Dublin.Set in the fabulous Ballsbridge Hotel on Friday September 12, and hosted by RTE’s Miriam O’Callaghan, the IFCR Awards will play host to the finest convenience retailers from across Ireland. With more than 400 individual award entries received from throughout Ireland, reaching the final of these awards signifies a major achievement for independent retailers, symbol groups and oil companies.The retail sector in Ireland employs more than 275,000 people – that’s almost 15 per cent of the total jobs in Ireland. The sector also accounts for more than 10 per cent of Ireland’s GDP – that’s €16 billion. This highlights why retail is such a crucial sector in our economy.Bill Penton, publisher, Ireland’s Forecourt & Convenience Retailer, was delighted with the calibre of entries: “Now in their eighth year, the IFCR Awards continue to grow. They are a fantastic example of how Ireland’s forecourt and convenience retailers continue to play a vital role in their communities and set industry standards higher each year. Continuous investment in new forecourts has resulted in much needed jobs and support for Irish suppliers, growers and manufacturers.”He added: “This unique event helps to raise industry standards in the forecourt and convenience retailing industry throughout Ireland by recognising excellence and rewarding professionalism in the retail sector.” Innovation, new ideas and new developments are an essential part of successful retailing in today’s ultra-competitive, fast-moving retail environment. Ireland’s Forecourt & Convenience Retailer Awards are the country’s only specialist awards for the forecourt industry and provide an essential showcase for our very best retailers. This year they are also helping to raise much needed funds for the Irish Grocers Benevolent Fund.This unique event helps to raise industry standards in the forecourt and convenience retailing industry throughout Ireland by recognising excellence and rewarding professionalism in the retail sector.Said Mairtin: “I want to pay tribute to our staff and customers. This is a tremendous achievement. We’re looking forward to the final.” DONEGAL RETAILER NAMED AS NATIONAL AWARDS FINALIST was last modified: August 21st, 2014 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)
8 February 2010 Johannesburg-based Newtown Projects is turning out makarapas – the decorated miners’ helmets unique to South African football fans – by the hundreds, while retaining the individual, hand-made quality of the product. How they do it offers a simple lesson for local entrepreneurs. On the outskirts of downtown Johannesburg lies a district called Newtown, the focal point of an urban regeneration programme spanning the last six years. If one stops outside one of its most famously refurbished buildings, The Mills, and takes a walk to the back of the building, what awaits is a sports fan’s wonderland. Hundreds upon hundreds of makarapas fill the numerous shelves, cover the walls and lie on tables; being painted, sprayed, bent and dried. The enormous display wall carries the headgear of two of the country’s favourite club teams, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, as well as many more of the 32 teams that will be competing in this year’s Fifa World Cup: Spain, England, Brazil, Honduras – you name it, they’ve got it. Paul Wygers, one of the architects who worked on South Africa’s iconic Constitutional Court building in Johannesburg, started the business, Newtown Projects, in October 2008.Seeing the gap – and taking it After listening to a discussion on radio one morning regarding what small businesses were doing for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, Wygers realised that there was not enough being done to create a unique product for the tournament. “I was in my office and saw a makarapa sitting there, one we had made before we bought this building, and so I spoke to two colleagues of mine in Durban and we decided to make these for the World Cup.” Newtown Projects is based on the idea of creating large numbers of makarapas while retaining the hand-painted images, a unique aspect of the product. Tackling the ‘pinch points’ in the process “After looking at how a makarapa is made, we realised there are two ‘pinch points’ in the process: cutting them, and painting them. So if you can get rid of the pinch point of cutting them, which is the most labour-intensive part of the whole process, you can up the numbers.” Paul and his associates eventually stumbled across a robotic arm to do the job. The arm, housed in Newtown Projects, is similar to the ones used in the motor industry. The most difficult patterns the machine will cut in about three minutes, but the quickest pattern it cuts in less than a minute. This means that the robot can turn out hundreds of makarapas each day. By programming the design into the computer, the operator can cut a number of different makarapas, and hence produce the large array of designs the company offers. For Wygers, this means he can offer more people employment, a key driver behind the starting of the company. “If you are only able to cut 10 makarapas a day, then you are only able to employ two painters. But if you are able to cut 800 a day, you are able to supply enough work to employ 50 people a day, or a 100 people a day. That thing can run for 24 hours, and it can cut 800 to a 1 000 makarapas a day, so we can never employ enough people.”The painters who make the makarapas unique The backbone of Newtown Projects are the painters who make the makarapas so unique with their talented eyes and brushes. Thomas “TJ” Jabulani has been working at Newtown Projects since April 2009, and has become the most senior base-painter on the team. “I was working at the airport before this, I was spray-painting, working on the cars and vehicles, logos and touch-up paint. I like it here, I enjoy the work and the people, and now I have my own Pirates makarapa.” Daniel Molokomme is a 27-year-old artist. “I started as a base-painter because I wasn’t good with the brushes yet,” he says. “I worked my way up, helping the artists when big orders came in. I enjoy art, before this I was in Limpopo doing my artwork there with a couple of friends. “I want to see my makarapas in the stands, and one day people will recall: ‘Hey, this guy did something amazing!’”2010 and beyond At the moment, 35 people are employed by Newtown Projects, but by the time the tournament starts the company will be aiming at having a staff of 40 to 50 people. “What we really wanted to get out of this business, was not only to do something with a uniquely South African product, but at the top of the list was job creation. This is hugely important,” says Wygers. Some local tour operators are already seeing the benefits of such an offering. “We had a guy in here the other day who found out about us,” Wygers says. “He does corporate travel packages and he is bringing a bunch of people over for the World Cup, and they need to be doing things while not watching matches, so one of his ideas was to bring them here to make their own makarapas, with our guys teaching them how to do it.” With plans to expand into the American sports market through baseball and American football, as well as into other sports such as rugby, demand is sure to grow. Source: 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa Organising Committee
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