The Community Champion
S&W Wholesale, members of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, are a Regional Winner in the Community Champion category in the Chamber Business Awards 2023.
S&W Wholesale have a strong focus on community throughout the year, consistently supporting local charities and foodbanks around the Newry and Co. Down areas. A lot of the recommendations put forward for charities are from staff members, who have a local connection to a particular charity close to their hearts.
On 7 October 2022 there was a major explosion at a petrol station in Creeslough, and this was the catalyst for S&W Wholesale to start to collaborate even more closely with the affected local community. As the retail partner of the Lafferty shop in Creeslough, S&W Wholesale wanted to offer a solution that would support the community in the long term.
With the darker evenings approaching, and the village of Creeslough being a very rural with no shops for miles, S&W Wholesale worked with families, the retailer, the diocese, suppliers, contractors and their teams across NI and ROI, with a monumental effort to get essential services back into the community with a fully functional shop.
One challenge to overcome was the sensitivity of the event. They wanted to ensure at all times that they had the support and backing of the entire community before proceeding with any part of the innovative solution. They discovered that the willingness of this close-knit community was very strong and they were on board from the beginning, with many offering up their time and services to help get the new shop off the ground.
Another challenge faced was finding a suitable location and units that would house the new Lafferty store. The diocese soon offered up the space and units were acquired that, to the outside eye, would not be suitable; however the retail team at S&W Wholesale had a vision, and welded the units together to create a welcoming store. The team across S&W Wholesale faced these challenges together and came up with a detailed plan that would support both the retailer and community.
The innovative solution was to construct a shop from the bottom up. Units were acquired and electricians, builders, supply partners, local residents and S&W Wholesale sales teams from across NI and ROI all came together to build the site, build shelving, restock shelves, put in electrics and open a fully functional shop. The task was then to create a shop that each customer would feel warm and welcome in.
The team spirit of everyone involved was second to none. S&W Wholesale has been known throughout its 107 year history of being adaptable and agile when needed, but they had not seen such drive and compassion to help people in a local community before like this. Teams that would not have worked directly together before, such as the sales teams in NI and ROI, came together and got to work on rebuilding the shop. From planning, right through to opening, the teams were by the side of the people of Creeslough.
S&W Wholesale have demonstrated the passion and determination of being at the forefront of community engagement when it was needed most. What S&W Wholesale was able to achieve in the short space of time while keeping the community at the heart of everything was truly impressive and they are a deserved Regional Winner of the Community Champion award.
On the back of the success of the brewery site and events, Dal then set his sights on expanding both the range of products on offer and the footprint of the business. In December 2021, Dal agreed a 20-year lease on Christchurch Spire in Coventry city centre. The unique venue serves Dhillon’s beers and ales on tap, as well as offering hot drinks and food, to create a family friendly environment.
Dhillon’s next venture was the Sky Blue Tavern, a brand-new sports bar in the city centre, in partnership with Coventry City Football Club. The Tavern is a hub for Sky Blues fans to meet and enjoy a drink, whether on matchdays or non-matchdays, and helps to generate revenue and support for the club. As one of the only dedicated sports bars in Coventry, football and sports fans can watch the latest action on big screens and in individual booths.
Dhillon’s Brewery have now also secured several catering contracts, including with Historic Coventry Trust, where they provide food and beverage operations at the historic Drapers’ Hall, as well as at other Trust locations.
The company’s vision and long-term growth plan continues to be focused on its close association with Coventry whilst securing further locations and contracts, to build a sustainable, profitable business model whilst continuing Dal’s original passion for brewing beautifully crafted beer.
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