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Viking Marine Navigates the Murky Seas of Covid & Goes for Growth

10th September 2020
Ian O'Meara (on ladder) unveils the new logo at the Viking Marine store at the Pavilion in Dun Laoghaire Harbour with Gerard Whelan, Brand Central Design who created the new brand, Antonia O Rourke Viking Marine, Paddy Kirwan of Helly Hansen Ian O'Meara (on ladder) unveils the new logo at the Viking Marine store at the Pavilion in Dun Laoghaire Harbour with Gerard Whelan, Brand Central Design who created the new brand, Antonia O Rourke Viking Marine, Paddy Kirwan of Helly Hansen

In early 2019 Dun Laoghaire sailor, Ian O Meara of Viking Marine felt it in his gut that marine leisure was on the rise and so the Dun Laoghaire marine shop and chandlery embarked on a strategy for growth.

This was to involve investment in their omnichannel business resulting in a full shop re-fit, launch of a whole new digital platform and the rebrand of the entire VIKING MARINE brand. While the Covid pandemic was not part of the strategic plan along with its challenges it has presented many opportunities for O'Meara and his experienced team.

Viking Marine has traded in Dun Laoghaire for over 35 years with O'Meara at the helm since 2000 having made the decision to leave the family business, follow his dream to be at the fore of the marine leisure sector in Ireland.

A local man with a lifelong love for the sea he was born and reared in Sandycove and hunted for crabs from the age of 5 on rocks behind the family home. A regular sailor with a very impressive sailing bio both nationally and internationally he is also a daily sea swimmer as Afloat's W M Nixon in his profile last week here.

At the launch this morning O'Meara explained the decision to choose the pavilion as the location for his business.

Dean Brien, Retail Manager at Viking Marine with Ian O'Meara

'As neighbours to all the Dun Laoghaire Yacht clubs, sailing schools, swimming areas and water access we literally are at the epicentre of marine leisure in Dublin. We also play a vital part in linking the waterfront with Dun Laoghaire town. Let's face it Viking Marine are unique. Where else in the world is your local Chandler right on the high street'.

He also added that recent changes in the structure of Dun Laoghaire Harbour will further improve access to the water for everyone. Covid has further highlighted the sea as one of the greatest resources for fun and leisure, competition both individual and team sport, staycation and not to mention personal wellness.

Ian O'Meara and Viking Marine's Alan UsherIan O'Meara and Viking Marine's Shop Manager, Alan Usher

A further endorsement of O'Meara's profile and reputation was his recent appointment by leading Yacht Builder Oyster Yachts as their Irish Representative for Oyster Yachts. (Ian sailed his first Oyster in 1980!)

Whilst many of Viking Marine customers come in search of expertise and advice it was evident in 2018/2019 that more and more customers were visiting the on-line store. And so the strategic decision was made in 2019 to embrace an Omni-channel approach and grow the digital side of the business. Today sees a whole new look shop designed with DDC Shop fit & Design and the launch of the new site created and developed by the young team at Socialify based in Cork.

Viking Marine Accounts Manager Halyna Kekosh and Ian O'MearaViking Marine Accounts Manager Halyna Kekosh and Ian O'Meara

The changing customer profile saw more and more younger customers coming in search of advice and expertise. Excited by this business opportunity little time was wasted in re-thinking the look and feel of the brand. Brand Central were appointed and the result is a vibrant new logo and brand suite both in-store and on-line. On the criteria for selecting the shop, brand and web design partner's O Meara said 'At the outset, we made the decision to work with small indigenous design and creative companies for this project and we are absolutely thrilled with the outcome'.

So much research showing the positive impact of the sea on our mental health and wellbeing sees more and more people using the water on a more regular basis for sea swimming, paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking etc. Viking Marine have extended their product range to service this growing demand with the added bonus of already being experts in the area of staying safe while having fun on the water.

Ian O'Meara and Gerard Whelan of Brand Central Design

Viking Marine has successfully built a very strong and loyal customer base with very high levels of repeat business. O'Meara modestly describes this as good ol' fashioned retail - Excellence in customer service, expertise in sourcing and testing the best technical products on the market and a team actively involved in water sport themselves.

'One thing I am especially happy about with our new digital platform he continues 'is that we can recognise and reward our customers in so many ways now through our new and innovative CRP'.

Over the years Viking Marine have received Government support for business development and most recently for the digital project. This grant was doubly appreciated during the months of shut down as without it the project may well have been put on hold. O 'Meara finished with some encouraging words for other business owners 'Whilst the application process can be daunting it is worth it in the end, not just for the financial support but the thinking behind the application part forces us, business owners, to take ourselves out of the day to day and think blue sky and big picture. And where better to be inspired than on the water'

Published in Viking Marine

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The Pavilion, Dun Laoghaire Co. Dublin Tel: +353 1 2806654 E: [email protected] Team

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