Welcome back to Galway Chamber’s Business of the Week series. This week, we spoke to Aideen Hurley, Co-founder of Evergreen Healthfoods Ltd.
Aideen Hurley Co-founder of Evergreen Healthfoods Ltd.
Tell us about Evergreen Healthfoods.
Evergreen Healthfoods is a family owned and run business located in Galway. We opened our first store in 1992 and now we are fast approaching nearly 60 employees, across seven locations across Galway. We also have an online store that delivers orders throughout Ireland and Europe.
How did the idea come about?
When Kieran and I first saw a vacant retail premises located on Mainguard Street back in 1992, we thought that the location was amazing and a great opportunity. We then researched what kind of shop Galway was lacking at the time and the niche of healthy eating came up. So we started with a healthy delicatessen, but I always had a keen interest in healthy eating, nutrition, fitness, and natural beauty. Over the years, our customers helped to shape our product mix by requesting new products and brands. We have gradually evolved our product mix to meet the demands of the marketplace.
Why did you choose to locate Evergreen Healthfoods in Galway?
Location is key in retail. Our first premise was located in the heart of the city which offered excellent visibility and footfall. Galway as a city has no match in the west of Ireland. Galway has a large population, multinational employment; it’s a tourist destination and has great demographics. But most of all, it has that unique Galway atmosphere and sense of community, that can’t be matched!
What big changes have you seen within the health food industry in recent years?
Technology is becoming more important in all aspects of our business. We are never standing still as company. I believe this is important for any business and Evergreen is no different; we are constantly moving forward and using the latest technologies to help improve our customer experience and business processes. A current trend when it comes to shopping, not just in our market, is the importance of having a strong online presence. We have invested in our e-commerce store and digital marketing activities over the past number of years. We have also updated our EPOS system which is implemented alongside an active loyalty system.
Are there currently any major health food trends?
The demand and the awareness of gluten & sugar free foods has remained strong over the last few years. There is also a lot of interest now in superfoods, plant based proteins, Eco-Cleaning and natural beauty products. Also, in recent years the demand for vegan approved foods and products has increased.
How has being a member of the Galway Chamber helped Evergreen Healthfoods?
Being a member of the Galway Chamber has been extremely beneficial for our business. The chamber does an excellent job of not only promoting Galway as a great place to do business, they also provide excellent support to members and the networking opportunities cannot be underestimated. We are proud to be members of the Galway Chamber and we would have no hesitation in recommending the Galway Chamber to any business.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone starting their own business?
You need to love what you do, never rest on your past accomplishments and perseverance is a great virtue when running your own business. One other key piece of advice I would like to share to anyone starting their own business is that your staff is the life blood and the face of the organisation, so it’s extremely important to surround yourself with a strong passionate team.