Furlong's 'meat' challenge
ONE OF WEXFORD town's longest running businesses, T Furlong & Son, Butchers, has merged with a larger company, Cribbin Family Butchers.
The familiar Furlong's shopfront in the Bull Ring has been rebranded this week, as have the two other Furlong's outlets – at Whitemill in Wexford and in Gorey Shopping Centre.
They are now part of The Butcher's Block group, with Furlong's three stores supplementing the six already owned by Cribbin Family Butchers, who have outlets in Dundrum, Portlaoise, Douglas, Blackpool, Dungarvan and Maynooth.
Paul Furlong said the recent merger followed about a year of negotiations with his friend Tom Cribbins, a fifth generation butcher who also happens to be manager of the Offaly senior football team.
The Wexford man said it was Mr Cribbins who approached him first, as the two butchers – who had become good friends through the trade over the past 20 years – were already involved in a lot of what he terms 'unofficial networking'.
Paul Furlong says the merger is aimed at giving Furlong's improved buying power and access to the processing factory at Rathangan, Co Kildare, which is owned by the Cribbin family. 'Retail is value driven and since the merger we've been able to give people better value,' said Paul.
He said both sides of the merger are benefiting from the increased purchasing power and now enjoy a better bargaining position as a busy chain of nine outlets, allowing them to compete on price with the large multiples.
'Quality isn't enough anymore, but you can understand that with people losing their jobs left, right and centre and wage cuts all around,' said Paul.
The Wexford butcher has a role in the new organisation he relishes – focusing on purchasing and product development. He said he is 'very happy' with how the merger is going so far and is not worried that it will affect the public's impression of one of Wexford's best-known and longest running family businesses.
'I think it will always be Furlong's to people in Wexford, I'd be surprised if they were talking about The Butcher's Block,' said Paul.