Nigel’s technology from Fermanagh helps small food stores prosper

Technology entrepreneur Nigel Bogle has grown sales in Britain to around 90 percent of the overall business of his EPOS Bureau, a small enterprise that’s based in Irvinestown, Fermanagh and is now helping farm shops, family butchers, bakeries, greengrocers and delis there compete successfully against supermarkets.

Monday, 12th April 2021, 1:00 pm
Nigel Bogle, managing director on EPOS Bureau in Irvinestown, Co Fermanagh, has won substantial business from smaller food retailers in Britain

Technology entrepreneur Nigel Bogle has grown sales in Britain to around 90 percent of the overall business of his EPOS Bureau, a small enterprise that’s based in Irvinestown, Fermanagh and is now helping farm shops, family butchers, bakeries, greengrocers and delis there compete successfully against supermarkets.

The company, which employs 16, is assisting the rapid growth of specialist food stores in Britain benefiting from a switch in shopping behaviour as customers turn increasingly to local producers.

Research has found that 63 percent of shoppers in Britain spent an extra 63 percent at butchers, home bakeries, greengrocers and delis in February compared to the same month last year. Furthermore, the research also found that almost two-thirds said they would continue to do so.

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Nigel (48) has witnessed the change in shopping habits and has seen demand for his bespoke technology also grow strongly especially over the past year.

“A strong presence we had developed in Britain before the pandemic has grown exponentially as the specialist stores have increased sales and have been seeking our technology to enable them to optimise the new business,” Nigel explains.

Specialist food stores, he adds, had also become popular because of their unique “customer experience”.

“Shoppers were now seeking expert advice from staff about local and different foods and increasingly how these could be used in meals cooked from scratch at home.

“They were keener than ever to know where the food comes from, how it has been produced and increasingly about any allergens,” he explains.

The EPOS Bureau, Nigel says, has spent the last 25 years “looking after some of the most successful farm shops and food businesses across the UK and Ireland”.

“Our success is based on our vast knowledge of food retailing which enables us to create solutions shaped to the specific needs of individual clients. We look after every aspect of running a farm shop, butchery or deli-style business with the goal of reducing costs and increasing profitability,” he says.

“Working with some of the most successful food retailers gives us unique insight into the sector’s requirements.

“Our expertise enables a food retailer to waste less time on technology and spend more on selling products to customers, because our solutions cover all the business data, including financial reporting and stock, needed to run a successful small business,” he adds.

He’s especially keen to secure more business here. “Arguably, we’ve gone about things back to front in taking on the market in Great Britain first but it has been an invaluable step in helping us to understand the challenges faced by smaller food retailers.

“Our role is simple. We exist to make the job of selling food as easy and as profitable as possible. Our till systems enable retailers to inform and educate customers and all whilst keeping an eye on the bottom line,” he adds.

Existing clients here include Hannan Meats and McCartney’s Butchers, both in Moira; McKee’s Farm Shop in Holywood; and Coleman’s Garden Centre, Antrim.

Covid meant that people were now interacting with retailers in a different way with as online hamper, apps for ordering and e-commerce shops.

“Our solution handles all of these things too as part of a single offering,” he adds.

He continues: “Our software and systems are now used by successful food retailers because they provide essential data including financial control and reporting, full stock management, stock and product labelling, e-commerce links for on-line sales and links to tills as well as weighing machinery for more effective management of the business.”

A Nottingham University computer science graduate, Nigel, who had set up a small software venture, Lakeland Computers, in 1997 in Irvinestown, won his first major contract in Britain from Chatsworth Farm Shop on the estate of the Duke of Devonshire in Derbyshire.

“The estate required a system for the better management of stock and sales at the farm shop that would also link seamlessly to various technologies in the business such as weighing, tills and labelling to reduce costs and increase profitability,” he continues.

Success led to significant business with other farm shops in England.

In 2018, the successful enterprise was rebranded as EPOS Bureau to showcase its core expertise. An office on the Welbeck Estate in Nottinghamshire enables to seek out new contracts and service existing clients quickly. It now works with farm shops; food halls; garden centres; delis; butchers; cheesemongers, bakeries, greengrocers, coffee shops and restaurants in Britain and increasingly in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The company continues to enjoy great success in Britain and includes other high profile clients such as Windsor Castle Estate and cheese experts Neal’s Yard and Paxton and Whitfield, both in London.

A major endorsement of the Fermanagh enterprise’s expertise and customer services was the grant of a Royal Warrant in 2012 from the prestigious Windsor Castle Estate.

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