‘My father taught me to be a wheeler-dealer early on’
Me & My Money: Marian O’Gorman, CEO, Kilkenny Group
Marian O’ Gorman, chief executive of Kilkenny Shop. Photograph: Gerard McCarthy
Are you a saver or a spender?
I am a saver. My mother was a great saver; she bought our clothes in the sales so she could put good food on the table for her family. When I was a child, I saved any money I earned until I had enough for a bar of chocolate or a ’99 ice cream. You had to save before you could spend. I suppose it has always been important to me to be independent when it came to money.
Do you shop around for better value?
Yes, it is in my nature – I am not frugal, as it is hard earned. I was reared in the 1950s and 1960s when there was very little money around. Still now, in the business, I want to stock beautiful functional items, but they must also represent value.
What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?
Years ago, I bought a hot tub for the back garden, for €8,000, which was extravagant for me. I had visions of us sipping champagne under the bright stars. That vision didn’t last, as the tub took time and effort to prepare for use and to clean, and I didn’t like the smell of chlorine in the water. I sold it a few years later for €3,000. Lesson learned.
What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?
Twenty years ago, we bought a place in Estepona in Spain. It has given us years of pleasure and lovely family memories, and still does.
How do you prefer to shop – online or local?
I mostly shop local, except when it comes to buying flights. I also buy books online from an Irish company. I generally like to see and feel what I am buying, especially when it comes to clothes, to get a good fit. Above all I want to support local shops, to ensure enterprise in communities is rewarded, and that we continue to have excellent local retail and service provision.
Do you haggle over prices?
Absolutely. My father taught me to be a wheeler-dealer early on. When making a big purchase in a store, I always ask for discount and, more often than not, I get it. When I am abroad too, I haggle. I get a great kick out of getting a discount, although family are sometimes embarrassed.
Has the recession changed your spending habits?
Yes, I have become more cautious when spending money. I wonder what will be around the corner for us now, too, especially with Brexit on the horizon. I still treat myself to things that I value and enjoy, though, because I have worked hard over the years and earned my little luxuries.
Do you invest in shares?
Not directly. Over the years, my pension has been invested in shares and that has served me well.
Cash or card?
I use my credit card most of the time, for safety and convenience, but I still like to have some cash in my wallet, just in case.
What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?
This year I bought a Toyota Prius hybrid car that I plug in every evening. Mainly, I travel to work so I only spend about €20 a month on fuel. That is good value for me and presumably good for the environment, too. And yes, I haggled, and got a great deal at my local garage.
Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?
In my younger days, I saved when we were buying our house and furnishings for it. My salary was very small then.
Have you ever lost money?
We had some property investments during the Celtic Tiger days that did not work out. Now I stick to what I know best, which is consumer retail, food and design, and working with incredible Irish designers and makers.
Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?
No, I am not. People’s lives can be destroyed through gambling.
Is money important to you?
Money is not the be all and end all of everything; it does not bring happiness. I see money as providing a comfortable living for me and my family, but money was never given to me. I worked hard for it from a very young age.
How much money do you have on you now?
I have €120 in my wallet right now, and my credit card.
in conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea