Me & My Money: ‘Irish food is the best in the world’

Chief executive of healthy fast-food franchise Freshii Ireland Dave O’Donoghue

Dave O’Donoghue: ‘Cash is a messy means of payment and one I avoid.’

Dave O’Donoghue: ‘Cash is a messy means of payment and one I avoid.’


Are you a saver or a spender?

I’m both. I hate waste, so I save on the mundane items. I enjoy spending on something that I know is quality and that I will get enjoyment from, such as my iPhone and Mac.

Do you shop around for better value?

Value for money is the key to the success of our business, so yes when it comes to Freshii. However, less so personally. I don’t waste time looking for value on everyday items, as convenience and supporting local is more important. I won’t make a larger purchase without due consideration though.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?

My family home in Dublin. Please don’t remind me what it cost!

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?

Cormac Manning and myself purchased the master franchise for Freshii in Ireland. We now have seven locations with three more in build phase, and we are well on track to have 30 to 40 in a few years. Given the response from consumers this will prove to be the best purchase ever.

How do you prefer to shop – online or local?

I’m a very strong supporter of local produce as Irish food is the best in the world. However, I like to shop online for gadgets, etc.

Do you haggle over prices?

Haggling is for bazaars – although I seek value as much as possible when it comes to the business end of things. Our business is a national franchise, so we must ensure every item we purchase is keenly priced. We tender out all major items of equipment, food and packaging to three vendors each time.

Has the recession changed your spending habits?

Yes, it’s made me more conscious of the true value of something, as opposed to just price. I believe you get what you pay for. I think age or maturity is also a factor – I don’t buy things I really don’t need or want. I have three teenage kids who do all that for me.

Do you invest in shares?

As part of my pension, there is a proposition in equities, but I don’t trade individual shares privately. I am a believer in the markets as a long-term play rather than short term. When I owned shares, it was when I was part of the management of those organisations and so vested in making the right decisions.

Cash or card?

I would use debit and credit cards more than cash these days. I believe cash is a dying basis of trade in modern commerce. I carry a small card carrier with everything from my cash card to my Leap card, and a very small about of cash for emergencies.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?

A Khoa San Burrito in one of our Freshii stores and it was superb value at €5.95.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?

Yes. My car – it’s a 141 BMW X6. I love it. It’s definitely my favourite drive ever and, while I try to avoid city driving, I love it for the longer trips.

Have you ever lost money?

Many times. However, I see those more as investments in making me who I am, than actual losses. In life, as in business, one must make decisions to move forward, otherwise we are left behind.

Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?

I love National Hunt horse racing and recently made my annual trip to Cheltenham. I place bets and I have had some good days, but all in moderation. It’s just for fun rather than a means of making money. I guess, innately, I am a gambler. I believe life is for living, and I don’t think it’s worth going through life without adrenalin – and risk is the fastest means of enjoying that rush.   

Is money important to you?

Money is the output of doing something well and getting rewarded for it. My Dad always said that there are no pockets in a shroud. So, for me, it comes after health, happiness, family and friends. It’s great to have enough to not wake up worrying about it.

How much money do you have on you now?

I have €70. I use mainly cards, as cash is a messy means of payment and one I avoid if at all possible.

in conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea