FOXFORD native and veteran Dublin SPAR retailer Gus O'Hara has been awarded the ShelfLife C-Store Convenience Champion Award 2017.
Gus, who owns SPAR Vernon Avenue and SPAR Stiles Road, both in Clontarf, Dublin, was honoured with this prestigious title as Ireland’s top retailers gathered at Dublin’s Royal Marine Hotel recently to attend the ShelfLife C-Store Awards, the only comprehensive and independently judged business accolades for the convenience store sector.
A total of 29 awards were presented on the night, celebrating the industry’s finest stores and people in a diverse range of categories, including the special presentation of the Convenience Champion of the Year 2017 to Gus O’Hara. The judges said that they made this special award to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to convenience retailing and convenience retailers in Ireland.
A former past president of the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association (CSNA), Gus currently serves as executive officer and has been active for many years in representing the needs of his fellow retailers and supporting local community initiatives.
According to John McDonald, publisher of ShelfLife Magazine: “The winner of this award is known to many of you as a great retailer and an exceptional supporter of the trade. He has moved with the times to become one of the great champions of convenience retailing. His stint as president of the CSNA was marked by his dedication to his fellow retailers, and this dedication has not waned as he continues to support his peers and contribute to the betterment of the trade.
“His sense of community really stands out. He has hired locals for over 20 years in the area his shops serve, and during the recession he fought tooth and nail to ensure that no one was made redundant. He is a pillar of the community, not just in his area but in the retail community also. He sets the example of customer is king and lives it daily through his actions.
“Our winner has a reputation for standing his ground and standing up for what is right. Over the years he has campaigned and fought on the changes in post office stamps, the surcharge for phone credit and currently, of course, he is working on the ongoing licencing structural separation issue. He has been tireless working for the trade.”
Said Gus: “I realise that this is an award to mark service to our industry over a period. However, I have never seen myself as an advocate in that regard, simply one that speaks out when I feel is necessary. Sometimes perhaps too much so!
“It is now apparent to me that this was noticed among my colleagues and that they felt it appropriate to mark those efforts. I am very honoured to be recognised in this way and I am quite humbled by this award.”
Gus comes from a well-known retailing family in Foxford, O'Hara's on Main Street, where he remembers, at age seven, packing potatoes for his late mum, Bea. He retail career began in earnest with H Williams and then the 8 to 12 Group. He currently serves on the Mayo County Council/Dublin Business Think Tank committee on a voluntary basis, made up of business people and professionals based in Dublin. He employs nine full-time and 26 part-time staff across his two SPAR stores.