Pat McDonagh talks McDonald's and the challenges of branching into the EU
"We'll take it slowly..."
Teacher, GAA player, photographer, and local business man are just some of the ways you could describe Galway man Pat McDonagh. Add to that the fact he's standing his ground in an ongoing copyright dispute against one of the largest restaurant chains on the planet, and you're some way towards understanding why he's such an iconic figurehead.
The Supermac's founder was recently crowned EY Industry Entrepreneur of the year for 2019, and it's not a moment too soon. From humble beginnings with a chip shop in Ballinasloe, more than 100 restaurants across Ireland bear the nickname he was given whilst playing a Gaelic football match with his local club.
Speaking to host Sonya Lennon on this season's final episode of The Architects of Business, Pat said much of his success is down to the people he has had around him:
"Teamwork is what it’s all about because you’re not going to be able to get to 116 different locations, you’re not going to be able to, as I say, work without a team.
"If you have the right team in the right places, whether it’s in sport, whether it’s in politics, whether it’s in business, whether it’s in whatever… If you have the right team working with you and you’re all driven and aimed for the same goals then there’s very little you can’t achieve."
"Across Europe, business is getting challenged from every angle"
One of the major stories surrounding Supermac's in recent years was the Irish restaurant chain's legal dispute with McDonald's. While the outcome of it is still uncertain with another appeal incoming, Pat said he is confident that the right decision will be made:
"We're quite confident. We won the second round, and we're quite confident that we'll succeed in the appeal as well."
A positive outcome for Pat would officially open the gates for an expansion into Europe. While the availability of Snack Boxes would likely be excellent news to Irish people living across the continent, Pat said he doesn't plan on jumping into anything too quickly:
"We'll take it slowly because you're in a very unusual environment at the moment in business.
"Across Europe, business is getting challenged from every angle, if you know what I mean."
According to Pat, one of the main challenges faced by businesses comes in the form of insurance claims:
"It's gone to a scale where it's pretty much nearly out of control. If it were any other business, or if there were any other situation like that in Ireland, I think there would be a massive public inquiry into what has happened here, why are we paying four times what they pay in the UK for injuries.
"If there was a willpower there for it to be fixed, it could be fixed very, very quickly."
Going from one fast food restaurant to 116 outlets nationwide creates more than a few challenges. If Pat can overcome them, there is no reason to believe he wouldn't back himself to do so again.