"You're not going to drive 5 miles for a Shepherd's Pie!" - Cully & Sully on the struggle of getting into Ireland's supermarkets
On the opening episode of The Architects of Business, JOE's new show in partnership with EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™, Cully & Sully reveal their early struggles to make it on to Ireland's supermarket shelves.
We take them for granted now, but Cully & Sully did not find it easy to become a household name in Ireland.
On this week's The Architects of Business, our new show in partnership with EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™, host Tadhg Enright asks Colum O'Sullivan - aka Sully - to explain the process behind getting your product out there.
You'd go a long way to find someone who has not bought something from Cully & Sully's range of ready meals since the brand launched in 2004, but the company's founders initially struggled to get into some of Ireland's biggest supermarkets.
It's not easy, even for someone who had already held a position with Musgrave - Ireland's largest cash and carry business - as Sully reveals.
"I was familiar with buyers, and I was friendly with quite a few of them - so I wasn't really scared of them - but at the time in Ireland you had four retailers. You had Musgrave/Superquinn, Dunnes, Tesco and Spar; the natural thing for me to do was to go to Musgrave.
"The ready meal category in Ireland in 2004 was pretty poor, so they were very excited for us to be doing what we were doing. But they played very hard ball.
"Next thing we went to Superquinn and told them we had a listing with Musgrave, and they said, 'we'll have to take you guys in' but they were very supportive. In our mind, that was enough to get going with.
"Then, after we launched Dunnes phoned us up and they were very supportive, they wanted us in.
"Tesco we didn't get into for quite a few years. That was very hard, because you're marketing to all of Ireland and Ireland is small - and yet (without Tesco) 25% of the population can't get your stuff.
"If you shop in a Tesco you shop in a Tesco, if you shop in a Super Valu you shop in a Super Valu; you're not going to go off five miles just to buy a Cully & Sully Shepherd's Pie."