Pictured: Niall Horgan, Gym+Coffee.
In this week’s CEO Q&A, Niall Horgan, CEO and co-founder of athleisure clothing brand Gym+Coffee , tell Business & Finance how his Local Enterprise Office has helped him achieve business goals.
Q. What are your main priorities and goals in your role?
The main priority for me is to make sure that, as a business, we are moving in the right direction and focused on the right areas. This comes from building a business strategy that the whole team is part of and confident in. This ensures that we prioritise our time correctly and spend it in the right areas.
Q. What are your biggest challenges as CEO?
The biggest challenge as a CEO is to make sure the business has enough funding to power future growth. At a start-up stage this pressure is always there and as a CEO you need to deal with this pressure and always be on top of this. We have been lucky to get great support here from our Local Enterprise Office.
Q. How do you keep your team/ staff motivated?
We have a very transparent and trusting culture at Gym+Coffee. Everybody on the team knows what the business needs to do to be successful and we empower our team members to take full ownership of their part of the business. While everybody is very busy, it’s very rewarding to see the clear impact you are having on the success of the business.
Q. What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?
The rumours of the death of retail have been greatly exaggerated, however there are huge challenges facing the industry. Customers’ expectations are changing and as a retail brand, we need to make sure we are keeping up with what a customer wants and how they expect brands to behave.
Q. What new trends are emerging in your industry?
Omni-channel is a trend that is becoming more demanding for businesses. There needs to be a seamless connection between your online and offline business so it is very easy for our customers to shop how they prefer.
Sustainability is a big part of our future strategy. People support brands they believe in and we want to double down on this part of our business and make sure we’re a business that is having a positive impact on the world.
Q. As an employer are you finding any skill gaps in the market?
We have found it difficult to hire fashion designers as, due to the lack of Irish apparel brands, there is a lack of jobs in this area in Ireland. As a result, most designers have had to move abroad to get experience at apparel brands and it is harder then to attract these people back to Ireland.
Q. How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?
For us, the uncertainty around Brexit has resulted in us postponing our plans to open a UK store in 2019. We expect this plan to be back on track for the second half of 2020, as (hopefully) certain questions around the movement of goods will be answered.
Q. How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?
For me, success is defined through the impact you have. Impact then can be within a number of different areas but for me it’s the impact I directly have in the success of the business, the impact I have on the happiness of our team, and the positive impact (through Gym+Coffee) I can have on our 100,000 community members.
Q. What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?
One piece of wisdom that has helped me is to remember that everything is not just black and white. Just because something isn’t going exactly right doesn’t mean it’s going wrong. Creating your own business is an emotional rollercoaster, and sometimes your ambition, passion and heart makes it difficult to step back and think rationally. Course corrections will always be needed, but as long as you know you’re moving in the right direction, you’re doing ok. Don’t panic and keep moving forward!
Q. What have been your highlights in business over the past year?
In 2019 we were the Dublin region winner in the Local Enterprise Offices’ National Enterprise Awards and were runner up in the national final. This was a real highlight for us and an achievement we are very proud of.
Q. What’s next for your company?
2020 is an exciting year for us as we aim to expand the business further with three new stores, including one international store. We also expect to strengthen up our team even more and we plan to hire 30 new team members in 2020.
Q. Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?
Our goal for 2020 is to double our business from 2019. It’s an ambitious target but one that we are really looking forward to!
Niall Horgan is an ambassador for Local Enterprise Office’s Local Enterprise Week 2020, which takes place from March 2nd-6th, with 300 events taking place nationwide across 31 LEOs. For more information see www.localenterprise.ie.