The new Students’ Union shop outlet in the Student Centre is currently operating with a turnaround 40% higher than that of the now-closed Kiosk for the same period last year. UCDSU President Rachel Breslin has said she sees the relocation of the Union shop in the Student Centre as a positive step forward for the future of the outlets.While she conceded that the new location would probably result in lower footfall than the previous site, Breslin says that students are “going more out of their way” to avail of the new shop and its increased services. The new convenience store now supplies a deli service alongside a coffee station and student essentials such as stationery. After the first full week of trading, the figures are positive and Breslin points to the fact that a “full lunch” can be bought there as one of the main reasons.
To continue this trend it has been a priority to monitor the situation over the next few weeks and be “responsive to what students are asking [for]”. With its close proximity to the Sports Centre, the shop is stocking more health and protein products while there are also plans to expand the deli offering due to its popularity.
The Commercial Managers of the shops, Shane Lavin and Michael O’Flynn stated at UCDSU Council last week that the shops have seen a “massive turnaround” and that they “expect business to return to profit this year, which is a significant change”. The accounts from the shops for 2011/2012 revealed losses of €280,000.
Despite these predictions of profits by the year’s end, Breslin remains cautious. She noted that as of now there has not been a “huge change” in turnover but hopes that business will be sustained following the end of term as the Sports Centre and Cinema will remain open all year round. A number of conferences are also scheduled to take place in the new centre. In previous years, shop losses were common during the summer months as there are vastly fewer students on campus.
While declining to comment on whether UCDSU Commercial Services Limited would make a profit for the year, she does see it as achievable from next year onwards. She believes that this year will serve as an important learning experience, particularly if profits are not realised, as they will be able to identify exactly what problems the shops are having. Breslin is optimistic for the SU shops in the long run, but maintains that “the pace of change” has to be continued.
The Commercial Managers are seeking now to work on the marketing of the shops, hoping to bring forward a “Your Shops” campaign, emphasising to students that all of the profits from the shops are going back into students and student services.
Developments are also planned to bring all the campus shops up to standard. This will include a redevelopment of the Library shop, which Lavin has described as “not fit for purpose”. This is due to take place in June, and it is hoped that a shop will be open in the redeveloped Science Hub in September following work over the summer. The Engineering shop is low on the list of priorities, however it will also be redeveloped as it is currently seen as the “poor relative” of the other shops, according to Lavin.