Biography

ImageI'm a Dubliner, born in 1936. I went to Newbridge College ,then did a commerce degree in University College Dublin (UCD) . My wife Denise and I live in north County Dublin and we've five grown-up children.

My first business experience was in my father's holiday-camp at Red Island in Skerries, Co Dublin. But what really excited me by the time I left college was the supermarket way of selling food, which was just beginning to sweep Europe.

So in 1960 I started a small shop in Dundalk with just eight colleagues. Our first Dublin shop at Finglas came in 1965, and for the next 20 years we concentrated on becoming a major player in the Dublin area. By the time my family sold out our interest in the company in 2005, there were 21 shops and a team of over 5,000.

From the start Superquinn homed in on two big things - food and customer service. Our focus on food led to things like our own bread, pizzas, and even sausages made right in the shop, and to staffed meat, fish and delicatessen counters rather than just self-service.

Our focus on customer service brought playhouses for customers' children, feed-back groups where we listen to customers, and a host of other innovations for which in time we became famous all over the retailing world. We were first in Europe with a technology-based loyalty scheme, SuperClub, technology we sold to companies in other countries. We became partners in an innovative online shopping venture Buy4now. I wrote a book about my business philosophy, "Crowning the Customer ", which has sold like Superquinn sausages in several countries.

I ran for the Seanad first in 1973, when an unkind friend said my golf handicap was higher than the number of votes I got. Since then happily, the votes have gone up and the handicap down. In 1993 I ran again (success!) as an independent member in the National University of Ireland constituency.

I believe passionately in the Seanad's role, and give a lot of time to my duties there. I was re-elected in 1997, 2002 and 2007.

In 1979 the Government asked me to be chairman of what later became An Post, and I spent 10 years helping to modernise that service and launch the National Lottery.

Another exciting public service involvement was chairing the steering committee for the new Leaving Certificate Applied - it was a privilege to take part in that revolution in Irish education.

I'm a committed European and strongly globalist in my thinking. My retailing connections allow me be an ambassador for the Irish food industry, which I believe has much untapped potential (I was on the expert group that led to the birth of An Bord Bia.) I'm an international board member of the US Food Marketing Institute , a former president of the global The Consumer Goods Forum , and am former president of the EU-wide lobbying group Eurocommerce.

In 2006 I was appointed an Adjunct Professor in Marketing at NUI Galway .


Read an article about me in "Fast Company" magazine


Drapier's 'Senator of the Year' Award (2000)

Irish Times: Saturday, December 30, 2000:

"The award goes to Feargal Quinn whose interventions are always constructive and to the point."