Casestudy: A cultural shift that transformed retailer’s performance

Casestudy: A cultural shift that transformed retailer’s performance


Carrolls Irish Gifts is a leading Irish retailer of clothing, jewellery, souvenirs and gift products. Established in 1982, the business currently employs around 400 staff across 17 stores in Ireland, with plans to open further stores in new locations. It launched an online store in 2003, offering worldwide delivery. Carrolls Irish Gifts stocks well-known Irish brands and aims to continue growing its product offering in the future to include high-end craft and jewellery.

Key highlights:

  1. The award-winning Retail Accelerator programme enabled a cultural shift in mindset and behaviours at all levels in the organisation.
  2. OMT Global’s approach offered a win-win, with the programme focusing on developing managers to develop others, through continual live shop floor training.
  3. Business objective of increased Average Customer Spend achieved.
  4. Customer experience improved and consistent across all stores, with a significant increase in mystery shopper results.


The Challenge:

Following results from mystery shopper research, it became evident that customer experience varied significantly from store to store. With plans to open more stores in future, and a vision to become Ireland’s number one tourist retailer, it was crucial to ensure customer experience was consistent across all stores.

There was also a need to develop skills amongst staff, as it was apparent that Store Managers were more task-driven than people-focused; whilst the training that Sales Associates received had no centrally-aligned process. The company therefore urgently needed to revolutionise their approach to Store Management and Sales Associate development.

Revenue growth was also a challenge to overcome, with plans to increase Average Customer Spend by 5% over two years. Lastly, they wanted to boost employee engagement and needed a clear programme that would integrate into processes such as recruitment, career progression, appraisal and succession planning, to help identify their high performers and improve engagement and performance.

“Exceeding customer expectations is being achieved through our ongoing programme, through a continuous journey and improvement of our customer-focused approach, whilst delivering an enjoyable and engaging customer interaction experience across our business.”  –  Area Manager”

The Solution:

OMT Global worked closely with Carrolls Irish Gifts to develop a bespoke ‘Retail Accelerator’ programme, tailored to their specific needs, to help improve the service and sales skills of frontline team members, through developing their Store Management team. During a brainstorming session, the client identified 10 different behaviours that they would expect from their Sales Associates, such as customer awareness, effective questioning and listening, product knowledge and teamwork. The programme also enabled Managers to deliver on three key competencies:

  1. Modules: Managers were developed to deliver 20-30 minute learning modules on the job.
  2. Observation: Managers were developed to observe Sales Associates’ service and sales skills in real-time on the shop floor, and track and review progress via a Monthly Observation Form.
  3. Feedback: Managers received development on how to provide effective feedback on service and sales skills, with a clear focus on strengths and areas for improvement.

The programme was reviewed every four months and incorporated several successful elements, including a collaborative partnership approach to the programme design; Train the Trainer sessions; one-to-one manager coaching sessions; facilitated experience exchange sessions; and ongoing internal coaching sessions.

The solution offered a win-win approach, as it focused on developing Managers to develop others continually throughout the year, which in turn impacted directly on bottom-line sales and service results. The training was always done on the job, rather than using a traditional classroom-based approach, with continuous observation and feedback, meaning it was practical, engaging, action-focused and clear.

In 2018 Carrolls Irish Gifts introduced new recruitment and performance management processes, with people development recognised as a core strategic strategy.


The Results:

Since OMT Global partnered with Carrolls Irish Gifts in November 2017, 18 Store Managers and 12 Assistant Managers have completed workshops so far. Managers have been empowered to develop their teams and make a connection between performance efficiencies, customer service, demonstrated behaviours and sales. This, in turn, created a catalyst for change, placing a consistent hands-on leadership approach at the core of the business, which was previously not the case.

Carrolls Irish Gifts enjoyed a significant increase in customer spend of 2.91% in 2018, compared to the previous year, therefore achieving its business objective of 2.5% for 2018. Mystery shopper results also increased considerably during the months when modules were delivered, with one month seeing a 13.8% rise in results.

Clear standards, behaviours and expectations defined on Monthly Observation Forms ensured learning objectives were met and progress was tracked. All of this has led to a consistent customer experience approach across all stores, while there has been a significant change in mindset, skills and behaviours at all organisational levels.

Award winners at the 2019 Irish Institute of Training and Development (IITD) for best Organisational Development initiative.

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OMT Global

Established in 1989, OMT works with large organisations to develop the leadership skills of their people managers, from first-time leaders right through to senior-level executives. We provide a range of consultancy, training and development services for organisations that want to further develop and retain their talent. OMT excels in helping organisations move from ad hoc or one-off efforts to a new way of behaving and working.

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