In this interview Marian O’Gorman, the chief executive of the Kilkenny Group, spoke about: 

  • Making a business, built on authentic Irish heritage, modern and futuristic. 
  • How Scandinavian designers and government involvement were the genesis behind Kilkenny Design.
  • Expanding the online side of the business. 
  • Getting the “twins” back together. Reclaiming ownership of the store in Kilkenny and the one on Nassau Street in Dublin. 
  • The “light bulb moment” of Green Friday. 
  • Her serial entrepreneur father who sold Irish design goods from his cottage on wheels. 
  • The ‘buzz’ she gets from seeing designers of Kilkenny Design succeed.
  • The benefits of business mentorship on both sides. 
  • How family-run businesses can often be tough and emotive.
  • Leaving school at 16 and gaining confidence from working with other entrepreneurs. 
  • What’s on her Christmas list.

Alison Cowzer (AC): So you’re all very welcome to the B2B podcast today. My guest today has been a champion of Irish craft and Irish design, and indigenous Irish retailing now for, I think, almost 50 years- if she allows me to say that. You’re very welcome Marian O’Gorman. 

Marian O’Gorman (MOG): Thank you, Alison. I’m delighted to be here.

AC: So Marian, I mentioned Irishness and I suppose if we’re looking at your business particularly now, you’re the CEO of The Kilkenny Group, Irishness is so important to your business. How do you present Ireland to your customers through your range? 

MOG: Well, we’re all about, as you just said, we’re all about Ireland. We’re all about buying Irish, we’re all about the craft and designers that are in the store, and for us it’s very important to present the quality and uniqueness of those products in a really futuristic way. So that they’re not boring when they come in and that they are merchandised in a way that gets the customer’s attention. And then there’s a story behind those pieces as well. So, our team are very knowledgeable in the story behind the products. So that’s really, that’s how we do it.

AC: So it’s presenting Ireland, I suppose, at its most authentic and presenting that to the customer in a way that, I suppose, appeals to them. That’s a tough thing to do from a very traditional industry. It’s come a long way over the years, hasn’t it?

MOG: It has. It’s contemporary now, it’s more modern. There’s a lot of young designers coming through. We’re encouraging the young designers and they’re bringing that new younger feel to it, and younger customers. It’s very important to keep the heritage as well. We don’t want to lose where it came from. I don’t know if you know the story behind Kilkenny Design, Alison.

We talk about Black Friday, why not make a Green Friday?

AC: I was amazed to see that it came from some kind of government involvement, way back. I mean that was something that just jumped out at me. Most unusual I would’ve thought, back in the 60s at that stage. 

MOG: Back in the 60s and the 50s there was a real shortage of jobs in Ireland; especially in rural Ireland. And the government, in 1963, they brought over Scandinavian designers and craftspeople to teach the Irish how to upskill in this area. And again it was because of the lack of jobs, it was a great initiative at that time for the government. 

To sell their products that they were making, they were upskilling, but they weren’t as modern and as beautiful as they are now. But they still were Irish products and Irish designed products and they needed somewhere to sell them. So the government then supported a store being opened in Kilkenny called the Kilkenny Design Centre and that’s where they sold their wares and they opened a restaurant as well there. 

” If they came in and wanted two or three Aran sweaters, I could end up selling them five or six sweaters. I was just born to sell.”

AC: So it came from that one store idea. You now have 15 stores, 370 staff, it’s across the country. So it’s grown substantially.

MOG:  It has. But after the first store, they opened the second store on Nassau street which is the one now. We’ve grown, as you said, to 17 stores and five restaurants. And then when they opened that, the two stores, they wanted to reach the tourists and the Dublin markets. And they did. That was doing very well for them. And then the government sold it in 19… Do you want to hear this story? 

AC: Absolutely. 

MOG: They sold it in 1989 and the two Kilkenny’s were separated. And one was bought by… 

AC: The twins were separated. 

MOG: The twins were separated. I was broken-hearted when you look back. One in Kilkenny city was sold to a management buyout and Kilkenny Design on Nassau street was sold to Blarney Woollen Mills. For almost 30 years, they were separated and really it’s been a big ambition of mine for the past number of years to get the twins back together again.

At the end of last year, Kathleen Moran who was the manager who bought Kilkenny Design in  Kilkenny sold it to us. And we were overjoyed and it has been an amazing addition to our portfolio of stores.

AC: So you’ve brought the twins back together, you have your wide group of stores, you’re pretty much in Ireland. Any international ambitions at this stage?

MOG: No, not at the moment. We’ve looked at opening stores outside of Ireland. The costs of it, our margins are tighter, then there would be if we were buying from outside of Ireland. In China or Asia. We don’t have the same margins. And say some of our competitors that wouldn’t be making in Ireland. And we’d find that when you ship all the heavy material and art, and try to get the price points and “will people pay for that”. But our online site, we’re developing and investing a lot of money in that over the next twelve months. And that’s where we see our foreign expansion and really to break into the US and to break into the European markets. 

AC: To go global online as opposed to bricks and mortar?

MOG: Absolutely, because we have the products and we have the quality.

AC: And that online offering, we’ve all become very familiar with the concept of Black Friday and the ability to get out, whether it’s bricks and mortar but probably more on online, and spend a fortune on a particular day. I’m not sure how we’ve all been engineered to make it a specific day. But you have an initiative that’s looking to change Black Friday to Green Friday. Tell us a bit about that.

MOG: We have. We’ve a drive to get Irish retailers to start promoting Green Friday. We talk about Black Friday, why not make a Green Friday?

A few months ago we were having a brainstorm in our office and we were talking about Christmas, we were talking about Black Friday, and how all of this counts and how are we going to compete with that market. And then one of our team members said why can’t we call it Green Friday? It was like a light bulb moment. 

He was always doing things and coming up with new ideas from a very young age. He started a knitwear factory. He had a cinema. He had a taxi business. He had a vegetable business. He had an insurance business.

Marion O’Gorman on her father

AC: It was pretty creative and in your own office. No need for a big agency fee. It’s great when that happens.

MOG: It was. And as I said, all of us around the table was like: “Oh my God that’s a great idea.” And then we did a bit of research. We went to Retail Excellence to see what they thought of it. We went to the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland. We went to the Small Firms Association and got feedback from them. And also Chamber Ireland and we asked them what did they think of the concept. Our designers, we asked them, we asked their team members on the ground. Everybody thought it was a great idea. Everybody was very positive. 

So we’ve a big drive now. Now, it’s not about Kilkenny. This is about shopping local. Buying Irish. This is not a Kilkenny initiative. 

AC: Clearly, it’ll benefit. 

MOG: It’ll benefit, yes exactly. That’s the softer side of it. But really, we’re not going out with a Kilkenny message on this. 

AC: So you’re hoping for this to become an annual event?

MOG: This is only the start. This is going to be a movement. We only had a few months to prepare for this one because it was only short term. Wait until you see next year. And already, loads of businesses want to join. They want to be part of it. And if they want to, they can download, they can go to the site, go to And they can download, free of charge, all the material they need to promote Green Friday. Green is the new black. 

AC: Green is the new black. 

MOG: Exactly. And we’ll talk about Green Friday, not Black Friday. 

AC: That whole concept of promoting Irish, it’s something that goes way way back to the beginning of your working career. Back when you were working with your parents and siblings in the Blarney business, right at the very beginning. So that was about selling Ireland to tourists really.

If they came in and wanted two or three Aran sweaters, I could end up selling them five or six sweaters. I was just born to sell.

MOG: It was, it was. That was a long time ago now. My father, he worked in Blarney Woollen Mills making machine parts when he was very young. Then in 1970, we actually bought the mill he worked in. But he was a great entrepreneur himself. He was always doing things and coming up with new ideas from a very young age. He started a knitwear factory. He had a cinema. He had a taxi business. He had a vegetable business. He had an insurance business. And it was actually when he was in the insurance business that time, he went and collected money from the houses, or from outside the mill, when people were coming out of work on a Friday after being paid. He saw all the coaches rolling into blarney. Nothing for them to do. Went up to the Castle, back down..

AC:  Went up to kiss the Blarney Stone.

MOG: Yeah, went up to Blarney Castle and then came back down and left Blarney and then he got that idea to open a small store. He built the thatched cottage up on his parents site up in Killard. Killard is a mile from Blarney. And he built with his friends – he hadn’t the money to buy one or get it built – a thatched cottage on wheels. It was heavy. There was concrete on it. It was small now, about the size of this office inside. So we used to put stock outside.  

AC: So this was kind of the first mobile shop really? 

MOG: It was a mobile shop because he couldn’t get planning permission. He didn’t need planning permission when it was on wheels. He was always thinking. So I joined him at 16. We were selling Aran sweaters then and we were selling Waterford glass; we were selling Belleek china; we were selling bits of Irish tweed; we were selling wool; we were selling souvenirs; we were selling leprechauns and we were selling Irish jewellery. So that’s where my love of Irish and tourists…it was always the tourists. I mean, if they came in and wanted two or three Aran sweaters, I could end up selling them five or six sweaters. I was just born to sell.

“We said if you were a customer, what are you going to buy that for? What would people pay for your product?”

Aliioson Cowzer with Marian O’Gorman. Photo: Bryan Meade

AC: So that’s the DNA of Marian. It’s sell, sell, sell. 

MOG: It’s sell, sell, sell but in a nice way. In a genuine way if you know what I mean. It’s not that hard sell. I was very much into that the customers went away happy. That they got their products and they got what they wanted there. And that I told them the story about the aran sweaters, told them about the honeycomb patterns,  the tree of life patterns. The quality of it. We’d have the name of the knitter on the sweater. 

AC: I was actually in your store in Nassau street yesterday and a beautiful display of chopping boards of all things. All beautifully cut and polished and, I was really interested it actually had the source, virtually naming the tree, and the county it had come from; really connecting the consumer right back to where this product came from. Right back to the heart of it. 

MOG: We have designers and craft makers in most of the counties in Ireland and our ambition now is to have at least one designer or craft maker in every county in Ireland. Because that would be really good when visitors come in and they come from whatever county, we can say: look this is the county where this product was made.

AC: From humble beginnings of a cottage on wheels to your current store footprint across the entire country and the quality of the merchandise that you’re now producing. Going back to the craftspeople that produce it, I know you’re supporting so many different organisations around the country, individuals that maybe grow into a larger business, is that something that’s important to you?

MOG: It is. That’s really what I get my… I use the word ‘buzz’ out of. If we see the craftspeople and designers becoming more successful. I’ll give you a story about Rebecca Kahn. 

About five or six years ago I was out at Bloom. I wouldn’t go to Bloom every year it just happened to be that year. And there was a craft village there. And Rebecca Kahn was making jewellery and she had a couple of pieces of art on the wall. I couldn’t even get near her. It was about a quarter to six and they were closing at six. We were going to dinner at six. So I contacted her the next day and a couple days later, and then we brought her to one of our stores, we trialled it. And it was so popular. Her story, she makes it in the Wicklow Mountains, at the bottom of the Wicklow Mountains. That’s where she’s based. She was making her jewellery and the art, in her own house. Her children lived upstairs, the family lived upstairs.

AC: The ultimate cottage industry.

MOG: It’s ceramics and art. I don’t know, do you know it?

AC: I’ve seen her work. 

MOG: It’s kind of like a 3D ceramic, it’s absolutely beautiful. She has amazing pieces. And now she has a studio near her home and she has about 12 people working for her. 

AC: She would have been delighted when she saw you come through the door? 

MOG: Yes. And we were delighted when we met her because we never could believe she would grow to this success. Now that’s only one success story, but there’s a lot of success stories like that. And a lot of the designers over the years, we would mentor them. We would give them advice on how to meet the market, on the quality of the product, if it wasn’t up to it, if the price wasn’t right, what customers were prepared to pay if there wasn’t marketing material.

AC: Because that can be a gap, can’t it? I mean it can be a gap for perhaps craftspeople that have the ultimate in creativity but just how do you convert that into a saleable product?

MOG: It’s not easy sometimes for them to accept what the customer will pay. They would think their product is a lot more valuable because of the time, and the love, and the passion that they put into it. But sometimes, we’d have to bring them back to reality. We said if you were a customer, what are you going to buy that for? What would people pay for your product? 

Now, we’d always explain to them as well, look if we’re selling them we could sell maybe a bigger quantity than the smaller stores. So you could make them a little bit quicker by making six or 12 together, and we’d mentor them. If we thought that they would meet that level.

We also mentor some colleges, Alison. There’s two colleges in Kilkenny city. One is a ceramic college and one is a jewellery college. They have 12 students each and every second year they do a degree program. And the second year of the program, we start working with them. We would go through – our buyers, not me personally -but the buyers. And we would go through with them what the customer would expect, the designs that sell well, the quality they’re looking for.

AC: An incredible service to offer young people coming through that have this dream to get involved in the industry, but to have that level of connection with the retailer is pretty unique.

MOG: It’s unique and it’s good for us as well. Because we have to see the talent coming out of the colleges. It’s great when we see them up in the store. In September of every year, we have Sceal which is an Irish design month and they all come up. We pick the four of the best and we showcase those on the windows and in the store, and they’re involved in that they come up and sell themselves. They see the customers, they get the feedback from customers, and then customers vote for the best to win. And then we do a bursary for them of a €1000.

“We always look at other retailers. We learn from other retailers.”

“The quality is amazing, the creativity is amazing, the story and the emotion behind the pieces, I mean it is an heirloom for people.”

AC: So what a start for somebody setting up their own business. That is exceptional, I would have thought, in any industry really.

MOG:  They’ve done a few videos for us, after all of this, of the students and what they’ve said about being involved with Kilkenny, and the time we give them and the patience we have with them. We get great satisfaction and they do. It works for both. It’s great for buyers then as well.

AC: And that unique relationship, is there anything to be learned for other industries in terms of how to position Ireland and how to sell Ireland? How many of your customers will be Irish versus tourist for example? Have you any indications on where that is?

Cool means that it’s futuristic. It’s going to be there for the young people in the future

MOG:  Because a lot of our stores are throughout Ireland and based in shopping centres as well, we get a lot of domestic customers. It would be 100 per cent in those locations. We have some stores in Killarney where 80 per cent of customers are tourists, 20 per cent are domestic. Then you have the shopping centres which is 100 per cent. So overall, we’re about 40/60. We have 40 per cent tourists, or maybe 30 per cent tourist and 70 per cent domestic. Domestic would be bigger. But take Nassau street, anyone I’d ask the question what do you think is our domestic customer versus tourists in Nassau street, we always get 80 per cent tourists, 75 per cent tourists, 90 per cent tourists and the rest domestic. And we’re there saying, “No”. There’s 75 per cent domestic, 25 per cent tourists.

AC: Even though you have all those busses up outside Trinity parked and they’re pouring out looking for something to buy? 

MOG: Absolutely. 

AC: So the Irish consumer still really important?

MOG: We have the Irish consumer between October and January and that’s our biggest shopping period. And therefore the balance, in the summer were 50/50. June, July and August- 50 tourist, 50 domestic. And remember a restaurant brings up domestic customers as well. Then, come Christmas, the balance is 75/25. People are gobsmacked when they hear that.

If you come into the store and you’re not bombarded to buy, that’s a good thing

AC: So Irish people are buying Irish design and Irish craft, it’s clear.

MOG:  They are and when they come into the shop they will say that we have a ‘cool’ store. I love that sound, you know. We are very cool. 

AC: Cooler than the cottage on wheels. 

MOG: Exactly. And cool means that it’s futuristic. It’s going to be there for the young people in the future. We believe we’re selling heirlooms as well because if you buy a beautiful piece of art or beautiful jewellery, all this is hand-made in Ireland. The quality is amazing, the creativity is amazing, the story and the emotion behind the pieces, I mean it is an heirloom for people.

AC: And do you think that’s part of the secret of the longevity of the group, particularly Kilkenny? How it survived in a time of major casualties in the retail world.

MOG: Definitely. If you look at what sets us apart from our competitors, would be the Irish design and the Irish craft makers and the quality of the product and the uniqueness. Otherwise, we’re going to be the same as everyone else. And that’s what sets us apart and that’s a KPI (key performance indicator). Another part that is really important to us is the customer experience. You can’t get the customer experience online. So, if you come into the store and you’re not bombarded to buy, so that’s a good thing, but then, if you’re looking for information on any of the designers we’ve got a very knowledgeable team, we’ve got a friendly team. 

AC: I can testify to that. I’ll give a shoutout to Susan, in your store on Nassau street, that I bought a dress from yesterday. She was incredibly helpful in a low-key, lovely, friendly way.

MOG: That’s nice to hear. Thank you for that feedback. And then the food is all made in the kitchen in the restaurant so that adds to the experience. If we’re wrapping something for someone, gift-wrapping it, we send them upstairs for a coffee. 

AC: That personal touch, there’s almost a Feargal Quinn kind of feel about that. Did you look at any of what was happening in other retailers and take it or is it all homegrown? Is it something you’ve developed yourselves?

We want people to be passionate and be happy in their role

MOG: We always look at other retailers. We learn from other retailers. We read various books such as the Customer’s Always King. Business is all about coaching people now rather than anything else. It’s about bringing people on and developing them. It’s all changing. 

AC: With 370 odd team members, how would you describe the kind of culture within the organisation? 

MOG: The culture in the organisation, and it’s a very good question because we’re working and we’re articulating it at the moment … 

“How can you touch it? How can you feel it? How can you try on the lovely Irish design and clothing?”

AC: You’re doing the workshops on it at the moment are you? 

MOG: We’re doing the workshop on the 6th of January down in Shanagarry, in our Shanagarry store.

I think the culture is very open. It’s respectful. It’s empathy. We think about our team members. We’re in a learning culture. We love learning. We love people to learn on the job, that they’re not coming into a boring job. We want people to be passionate and be happy in their role. That they’re getting something back. Another one of ours would be innovation and creativity. We have to be creative or we won’t be there for the future. So our teams were always working under the new best thing in the future. What’s their best? What will retail look like? What’s online going to do? That’s why we’re investing in it. I hope I’m answering your question.

AC: You are. It is interesting that taking such a traditional sphere that in the past could’ve been seen as a dusty sector in the sense of it was very difficult to make it merchandisable. You’ve done that and now you’re moving onto the online sphere which is completely different. You mentioned the experience in-store and how to create that. How do you replicate that online?

MOG: That’s a really difficult one. I have to put my hand up, we’re not doing it at the moment. We’re really investing online. And it’s very hard to get.. if you’re buying a craft, how can you see that online? How can you touch it? How can you feel it? How can you try on the lovely Irish design and clothing? How can you see the textiles, and the throws, and the scarves, and feel the wool in them and the quality of them?

AC: Photography can only go so far.

MOG: Yes. And we’re improving in all that. We actually have studios in our warehouse so that we can take the photography. That’s a challenge yet for us to cross. Not sure how we’re going to… even if you’re still talking to customers online, it’s still hard to get that feel. So we prefer to get people into the shops to talk to them, get the experience, get the knowledge, have a cup of coffee. And when you come into the store, that experience is also about the culture. That experience can cascade. Because when you look back, culture comes from the top. And you look after customers, that’s part of the culture. 

AC: So would you be on the floor now yourself serving customers? 

MOG: If I go into any of the stores and they’re busy, and I see customers not being helped, I will. I can’t go on the till now, they’re electronic from my days. I’ve talked to customers and I would sell. Then I would hand it over to be put in the till then.

AC: Obviously the business came originally from a family scenario and I know there has been challenges on that and difficulties on that over the years. You’ve now a really successful business up and running. You’re bringing people through the business. The succession plan of what the next generation is, what that looks like, and what the business is going to look like in a number of years, what are your views on that?

MOG: My two daughters, Michelle and Melissa, are working in the business. And they’re very committed and hardworking and they love the business. We have a lot of external people in the company now. We’ve just taken on a marketing director, Evelyn; we’ve finance directors; we have some very senior people and the people on the ground. Our people are very committed and our senior people are really very positive about working for the company. They’re with us a long time, as well. And they’re there to drive the company forward.

Family members will want to put family first and other family members put the business first because if you put the business first, it’s good for the family

AC: Is it hard to let go of the operational side when you’ve been involved in it for so long? I know you’re passionate about so many different areas within the business. You’ve talked about marketing, which clearly is one of your areas that you’re massively involved in. Is it hard to outsource that to somebody else? To say, that’s your decision to make now, and I won’t get involved, and I won’t meddle. 

Is that difficult? 

MOG:  Not really. If you recruit the right person, they actually can deliver on the job once they know the company. It’ll take six months to settle in, to get the culture, to get to know people, to get to know what the company needs to help drive the company. So I have actually a lot of confidence in my people.

I can actually stand back, and if there’s something big happening then we do sit down and talk about it more often. And they would deal with it, and they’d keep me very much informed and I’d give my opinion on that. And I see the company is being driven by the very senior people in the company. and the family members that will be there.

“Family businesses are tough. Emotion gets mixed up with the business. It’s just the way family businesses are.”

“I thought entrepreneurs were people who had helicopters. I didn’t even think about it. I was just too busy running the business.”

AC: I know again on the family members, there’s been very well publicised difficulties on that. Family businesses are tough. I work with my other half, my husband. So I know how hard it is to not bring it home. It’s tough, isn’t it? 

MOG: Family businesses are tough. Emotion gets mixed up with the business. And some, more than others, can really bring the emotion into it. It’s just the way family businesses are. Trying to make business decisions outside of the family, you know, family members will want to put family first and other family members put the business first because if you put the business first, it’s good for the family. Business decisions are important because the business is there for the family. Otherwise, if you make decisions around the family and you put someone that’s not competitive or not competent into the job, then there’s no company there in the future, and it’s not there for anyone. So decisions made around the family sometimes might not be the right decisions and sometimes they are the right people in the business.

AC: So it’s a balancing act.

MOG: It is a balancing act and keeping the decisions… because we have so many, like, if we were around an exec table we’d have six external people, or five external people to the three of us in the family. So there’s a real..

AC:  So is it democratic then?

I had my head in the sand – I still have sometimes -for years, just working, beavering away

MOG: Very much so. There is no decisions being made that we don’t discuss. The three of us, the girls and myself, we don’t discuss decisions outside the business because we include everyone. It’s not good for the business. We don’t want to. Otherwise, we’re going to be second-guessing these people and they’re not going to perform and they’re not going to be happy in their jobs. 

AC: So your advice to anybody involved in a family business of how to keep it on the straight and narrow and how to get that balance right?

MOG: External people. External people on the board, external people on the executive team. The right external people, to advise them. And keeping emotion out of the business.

And then one night I was staying in the hotel and I passed our shop. The lights were on, the Christmas windows had all the lights. And I stood and thought this is true. I looked at the window and I said “I can’t believe I own this”

AC: As far as possible.

MOG: As far as possible, exactly.  

AC: Just on that external piece, and external expertise, and that ability to work with other companies, I know you’ve been very involved in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year program. That experience of going through the program and meeting other entrepreneurs, was that helpful?

MOG: That was really helpful. I suppose I had my head in the sand, I still have sometimes, for years just working, beavering away, running the business, recruiting people, Irish Design, the whole lot. Honestly, I thought entrepreneurs were people who had helicopters. I didn’t even think about it. I was just too busy running the business. 

AC: You didn’t see yourself as an entrepreneur? 

MOG: Absolutely not. I was even shocked, and you can trust me on this one and I’ll even give you a small story. About eight or nine years ago, we were very busy around Christmas time, and I had been a buyer at that time as well, I was multitasking. No wonder I didn’t know what was happening outside of the business. We were so busy, I remember it was very cold. I had to come up for two weeks with a jumper and jeans and go in and out bring the stock in. Because I’d bought the Christmas stock, I knew where to put it and what went with what. And then one night I was staying in the hotel and I passed our shop. The lights were on, the Christmas windows had all the lights. And I stood and thought this is true. I looked at the window and I said “I can’t believe I own this”. It didn’t sink in. I was just busy beavering. 

AC: You hadn’t taken time to appreciate it. 

MOG: That was for me, it was an important moment. And then the EY,  just to go back to your question, because of all that I probably am very out of my comfort zone on talking to people because I didn’t go to college. I always had a hang-up. I left school at 16 and I would always feel that I didn’t articulate myself as well as people that went to college.

“I even said to the girls in the last couple of days: if you buy me a Christmas present, I don’t need a lot, but I’d love the Voya.”

AC: You haven’t done bad on it Marian. 

MOG: Well I think it’s because EY, that time I went to the Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014, I met all the other entrepreneurs that were going in for the awards and they were all down to earth. They were all easy to talk to. There was no, I use the word bullshit. Do you know what I mean? They were all genuine people. 

AC: Did that give you confidence in your own abilities? 

MOG: It does. After that, I am much happier in my own skin. I’m happier in the way I can articulate. I’m not as concerned. But it did take me around 12 months. Like I couldn’t stand up and talk at that. I actually could not stand up, but that did give me the start of my confidence to do that. It definitely did, so I really thank EY for all of that and the hard work that they put into me. They were brilliant.

AC: So I’m just imagining you standing in front of that Christmas window a few years ago and wondering how was all this yours. So with the time of year that we’re at, I have to ask you what’s on your Christmas list for this year? 

What I’ve learnt over the years, really, it’s all about people

MOG: What’s on my Christmas list for this year? For myself, or for my family or either? I don’t know. I’m very easy to please. I don’t need an awful lot. There’s not a lot of stuff I need.

AC: If there was one thing out of the Christmas range now in Kilkenny at the moment that you could have under the tree, any anything in particular?

MOG: I love the jewellery. I love the handmade jewellery and I’d love one of these necklaces that go around, they’re kind of high up on your neck. I’ve seen them in the store. Voya is another one I love the Voya. I even said to the girls in the last couple of days: if you buy me a Christmas present, I don’t need a lot, but I’d love the Voya. And they said but we can’t give you something out of the shop. I said, you can because I love it. I’ll use it. 

Also, I love going for meals or if they give me weekends away. Or meals and I’d go out with my husband. They’re the kind of gifts I like. 

AC: Experiences. 

MOG: More experiences.

AC: So Marian, we’re going to end on that but just looking forward really to the future of the business and in 10 years time if we’re looking back on the Kilkenny store what would be your stand out? What would you like to see?

MOG: What would be my stand out? It would be obviously working away through the difficulties that are in the business. With Brexit and the retail at the moment with online businesses, to see it prosper the way it is now. That it’s growing, that we’re looking after customers. And what I’ve learnt over the years, really, it’s all about people. No matter what we say, what we do, whether you have a pound or a penny, it’s all about people. And the customers, and the people, and the respect from everybody within the company: the customers, team members, suppliers. That we respect everyone, no matter what they have.

I would be proud if that was still the culture when I’m not there in 10 years time. That that continues, that culture.

AC: Well let’s hope we can meet again in 10 years and look back and see that. 

MOG: And actually one of our main values is people in the company. That’s the number one. We have five big values and people is number one. That stands out for us.

AC: And we’ll leave it at that Marian. Thank you very much for joining me today. 

MOG: OK. Thank you very much Alison.