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Investing in strategic direction

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Strategic DirectionIn 1993, a leading cosmetics company, Revlon International, decided to cease direct distribution in Ireland. Their financial controller, Sean Conlon and sales director, John Meany O’Brien commiserated with each other. Although they had worked closely together for a period of 15 years, neither knew that the other was a “serial” entrepreneur. Both had separately and without the knowledge of the other, run a number of successful businesses. In the depths of a recession and with a lot of determination they decided to pool their resources, mortgage their homes, and with a small seedling capital from a bank, form a new company which they named Eurosales International.

Over the next few years they built up the number and range of products they distributed, gradually increasing their staff numbers and building a full service offering including representation, marketing, sales, order picking, distribution, delivery and merchandising. In 2005 Eurosales International moved to a new modern facility in Ballymount Business Park with a warehouse capacity of 20,000 sq feet and employing 15 staff at the outset. In the intervening years, the business has trebled, distributing to over 1500 accounts and employing 55 staff.


Sean and John are the owners and directors of the business and have recently been joined by Brian Morgan as General Manager. With Sales managers and regionally based representatives they cover the entire island of Ireland both North and South, supplying both independent and group pharmacies, all the major supermarkets and key department stores. Brian Morgan is no stranger to the trade and joins with a wealth of experience having worked for the past 24 years in both the Grocery and Pharmaceutical sectors. Brian spent 12 years with BWG Foods in a number of senior buying and management roles before moving into the Pharmaceutical sector with Celesio, where he worked as a senior buyer for 6 years with the then Unicarepharmacy retail chain and 6 years with Cahill May Roberts Wholesale as their Commercial Manager. Brian is also a graduate of the IIPMM where he recently acquired an honours degree in Strategic Procurement and Supply Chain Management.

His wealth of experience in the distribution business is seen as critical to their ambitious plans for the future. Another recent addition is Catherine Cullen as Marketing Manager. Her previous experience with Boots as Marketing Manager and Insomnia Coffee Company as Brand Manager is seen as a significant boost to the competencies and skills available to Eurosales customers.
Sean Conlon remarks, “Yes, we have set out to build our core skills and competencies but we have also invested in our overall corporate governance and strategic direction. We were delighted to secure the services of Turlough O’Sullivan as Chairman and Brian Clarke who has joined the board as non-executive director.”

Mr O’Sullivan is the former Director General of IBEC, the leading business and employer organisation. He has also served as a member of the board of Business Europe in Brussels and was special advisor to the Board of the International Organisation of Employers in Geneva. He is a director of a number of companies in Ireland and also runs his own consultancy, advising organisations in the private and public sectors and conducting investigations and mediations.

Mr Clarke has extensive experience at senior level in leading global companies in food manufacturing, medical devices and financial services. He has also served as managing partner in an international consultancy specialising in executive search. He is currently a partner in a consultancy firm providing services to a wide range of clients.

Service & Values

Apart from the services to suppliers already mentioned, an additional significant component of the business is the supply chain contract in the UK for a major American cosmetic’s company, shipping goods on a daily basis and servicing to major outlets across that economy. This is about to become much bigger, but more of that later.

Recently, a visitor to the company joked that entering John Meany O’Brien’s office was like visiting Aladdin’s cave. Almost on a weekly basis, suppliers send samples and sales material looking for representation and offering distribution of their products to Eurosales. John laughs and explains “we are one of the few companies that offer ‘cradle to grave’ services, meaning taking total ownership of the supplier’s needs. But he cautions that in the modern world being “all things to all men” is not possible. “When Sean and I first set out we agreed that we would build our reputation on offering quality service, superior to other distributors, and that we would focus on that element in every aspect of our relationships with our customers. We have lived with that code ever since. That means that when we feel we can’t honour that commitment we have to refuse distribution, even at financial loss. We have just developed a new Mission Statement or should I say a re-statement of our values and we will continue to ensure that all our staff brings our core values to their everyday business.”

He adds that quality alone is not sufficient to build for the future. Quality and service are a prerequisite but innovation and new thinking must also be drivers. Eurosales have recently put in place a rigorous protocol for evaluation of new products. The products must meet the quality and innovative criteria as well as being commercially sound for all pharmacy businesses.

The Future

Both Sean and John are confident and enthusiastic about the future. They see the ending of their distribution of Essence and Catrice products at the end of the year as an opportunity to bring new products to the market and are currently concluding the contracts for the introduction of major new cosmetic lines from the USA. They are understandably a little coy. Watch this space is the message.

Eurosales International are delighted to announce that they are the new distributors of P20 sunscreen and are putting into action detailed and dedicated marketing and PR plans for this and other key major lines they already distribute. Eurosales are in countdown to the re-launch of their updated website. Alongside this is a brand evolution of the Eurosales Logo which goes live on September 1. This brand face-lift will launch the next 20 years.

In tandem they explain that they must be able to talk to their customers in this new digital age. Both are extremely conscious that youthful consumers – many as young as 12 years old — buying cosmetics, are tuned into social media and that the traditional means of communication are no longer relevant to this segment. They are determined not to be found wanting in this regard and have invested in FaceBook pages for imPRESS nails and Softsole, with advanced plans on other key brands. Likewise, they have revamped their house style and made it more vibrant and modern.

The last line belongs to Sean. Looking across at John, he says “we are going to double the size of this business over the next 4/5 years.” John nods his head vigorously in agreement. This partnership, born out of necessity in the last recession is heading towards a bright future.