Helen Turkington has shut up shop on Dunville Avenue, Ranelagh, Dublin. The elegant double-fronted space which was an ode to grey, and which in its time included a gorgeous flower shop, scented candles, her own brand of paint as well as her classic contemporary furniture and decorative items, was the place the well-heeled came to have their homes done.
But it’s good news, she insists. “I got an offer I couldn’t refuse. It’s a decision I made literally overnight.”
After 18 years on the Dublin 6 avenue, during which time she helped to usher in a new era of retail, she has closed its doors.
“I’ve been running four businesses; the shop on Dunville, the larger space on Spruce Avenue in Sandyford, the online business, which only launched last November and already accounts for 70 per cent of the business, with sales in the UK particularly strong,” she explains.
There’s also Turkington Rock, her development company that she set up with Keith Craddock, one-time asset manager at Green Reit, who went on to found Redrock Developments.
“I was working seven days. It was a quality-of-life move more than anything.”
Turkington, who owns the building, has rented it to NoBó, the plant-based ice cream and chocolate company, run by a young couple that she says “reminded me of Garvan and myself”. She’s talking about her husband Garvan Walsh, who is a director of Kelly Walsh Property Advisors.
Husband and wife Brian and Rachel Nolan set up NoBó (a play combining their surname and the Irish word for cow) eight years ago. She worked in advertising and he worked in finance when they started making their non-dairy ice cream in their kitchen in Glasthule, Dublin, using a three-litre domestic ice cream-maker and selling it at farmers’ markets. The business has soared since with around one million tubs of ice cream sold and an export deal with Wholefoods Canada just inked, following investment in the company.
The Nolans’ plan for number 47 Dunville Avenue is a chocolate R&D lab where they can play with new flavours. The non-dairy, no refined sugar chocolate now accounts for 60 per cent of the business as well as offices and a retail space. The ground-floor space which extends to about 232sq m (2,500sq ft) is being designed by Brian’s brother, John Nolan of Sketch Architects, and will include a kiosk out front where customers can come and sample coffee, chocolate and ice cream. “There will be lots of glazing and people will be able to see the chocolatier working. There will have to be some kind of nod to Helen too,” Brian says.
If the current drawings for NoBó are anything to go by, the Turkington touch will be there for all to see in the exterior ,which is rendered in the darkest shade of grey.