Shaws – almost nationwide – is getting a facelift
Store is launching two ranges, will be launched aimed at traditional customers and the ‘fashion-forward’
Houndstooth cardigan coat €79, satin panel blouse €39, smooth coated jeans Vero Moda €39.99. Photograph: Naomi Gaffey
It’s one of the best-known slogans in Ireland – “Shaws – almost nationwide.” The more than 500,000 shoppers who visit its 17 branches around the country each month will see overhauls rolling out this week from the biggest stores, in Limerick, Waterford, Wexford and Portlaoise, to some of the smaller ones, in Roscrea, Athy, Dún Laoghaire and Fermoy, starting with womenswear.
“There is a big wave of change at the moment,” explains Belinda Ball, Shaws’ group category manager, adding that buying director Nick Seaton, formerly of C&A in Germany, is the force driving the restructuring.
“In womenswear we recognised that things had got a bit stale, resulting in a sea of products not in any way co-ordinated, and not talking to the customer. We wanted to change that, and create collections that will appeal to existing customers, as well as bringing in new ones.”
So Shaws has launched two new ranges in tandem with the revamp, one called Tea Lane, after its Portlaoise headquarters, and the other called Naoise, again a play on Portlaoise, but designed to appeal to a younger customer.
“Tea Lane is the traditional Irish customer who comes into Shaws; she’s got a great personality, loads of friends and loves socialising, but isn’t trend driven, but buys clothing that suits her lifestyle.
“Naoise is more fashion focused, she is social media savvy who wants to present herself in a stylish way with a tighter budget. She is looking for everyday things for her wardrobe that are affordable, and don’t involve having to go to Dublin to Zara,” Ball says.
The new-look shops will co-ordinate the clothes with accessories – jewellery, bags, shoes – and clothing sizes that take into account the Irish figure. “The garments are quality and affordable, and we are not trying to be too high end,” adds Ball.
“Everything will be clear and well defined – you should throw it up into the air and it lands together.”
Ball, who is from Zimbabwe, moved to New Zealand in 2001 where she met and married her Irish husband. Having started out as a fashion designer, she “slipped across to buying” and in Ireland worked with Carraig Donn before moving to Shaws. She and her small team are both buyers and designers, with most of the collections made in China.
For Jonathan Shaw, the fifth generation of his family to work in the company – which was founded in 1864 by Henry Shaw, in Mountmellick, in Co Laois – being groomed into the role carries on a tradition in one of Ireland’s oldest family businesses.
So where did that slogan originate, I ask him. “My father and his brother worked with Doherty Advertising at the time and Don O’Connell came up with the slogan, but we have been trying to move away from that even though it has been synonymous with the business over the years,” he says with a sigh.
Key to Shaws’ longevity, he attests, has been the involvement of family members interested in the business over the generations, and is one that continues to this day, along with a staff of 1,000, many of whom have worked there for more than 40 years.
The new-look Shaws rolls out nationwide this month and the new clothing ranges including the one featured here, are now in place in every Shaw store around the country.