Going for Growth: Eilish Quinn

Eilish Quinn from Carnew Livestock Mart and Quinn Property on embracing digital marts in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and how the Going for Growth programme is supporting Irish women in business.

In this new series we talk to women entrepreneurs who have taken part in theGoing for Growth programme.

Going for Growth is a six-month part-time programme, supported by Enterprise Ireland and KPMG, which assists ambitious female entrepreneurs to achieve their growth aspirations. Applications are currently being sought from ambitious female entrepreneurs for the 14th cycle of the popular programme.

“Women supporting women in business is such a powerful thing and I would love to see more women from a farming background getting involved in Going for Growth”

Eilish Quinn has seen major changes in both her businesses as a result of Covid-19 and her innovative approach to change in a traditional sector is paying off.

Eilish and her husband David are directors of two businesses – Carnew Livestock Mart, Co Wicklow and Quinn Property, Gorey, Co Wexford.

Both businesses have been in the Quinn family for three generations – with the fourth generation, David and Eilish’s son, Jack, recently joining the business.

Digital marts

Prior to March 2020 at Carnew Livestock Mart, there were large crowds of sellers and buyers attending the livestock marts with more than 200 people ringside on an average day.

Things changed overnight when Covid-19 restrictions came into place and the mart immediately went online.

This has resulted in people being able to view livestock marts from all over the country and is bringing in new custom. Potential buyers and sellers can look at any number of marts every day of the week and get up to the minute prices. 

“During lockdown restrictions no customers were allowed at the ring – everyone had to adapt quickly. Since the re-opening, habits have changed. A lot of buyers and sellers are now more comfortable watching online – even local buyers are happier to buy online,” says Eilish.

One big advantage for the business was that a lot of the top buyers of cattle are now able to cover more marts now that they are online. Previously they were restricted due to the considerable travel involved and might only have visited Carnew occasionally.

“Now they can tune in and buy weekly which adds to the competition and improves prices for our customers,” says Eilish.  The spring is a very busy time on dairy farms and the online system for selling calves has proven popular with younger dairy farmers who do not have the time to attend livestock marts.  The online system suits them particularly well. 

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Quinn Property was the first company to hold online property auctions through the LSL system.

From day one, the engagement from both buyers and sellers has been tremendous. We have had a very high success rate with excellent prices achieved. While we can now go back to public auctions a number of customers are happy to continue with online auctions rather than reverting to previous auction arrangements.”

Online auctions have many advantages. As all potential bidders are pre-registered with deposits paid, the auctioneers have a much clearer picture of interest on the property prior to auction.

“From a bidders perspective, the online system is completely private and discreet. Bidders don’t have to sit in a packed auction room – they can now bid comfortably from their own home or office.  From a seller’s point of view, some of the stress is reduced on the day as they no longer have to meet a large number of people.”

Going forward with the support of our team we hope to improve on all aspects of the business, says Eilish.

Eilish was a participant on the 12th  cycle of Going for Growth, with Monica Flood as her Lead Entrepreneur.

“I absolutely loved the Going for Growth programme and it was a huge benefit to my business. Running your own business can be a lonely experience and having the peer support of the other women in the group as well as the Lead Entrepreneur was invaluable; to have an open and safe forum to discuss your business,” says Eilish.

“Women supporting women in business is such a powerful thing and I would love to see more women from a farming background getting involved in Going for Growth.”

The call is open for applications from female entrepreneurs who would welcome peer support to take their businesses to the next level by taking part in the Going for Growth programme. This is the 14th year of Going for Growth and more than 800 female entrepreneurs have so far taken part in the programme. Up to 60 places will be available for the 14th cycle of Going for Growth, which will run from January to June 2022 and the deadline for applications is Thursday December 16th 2021. There is no charge for those selected.

Anyone interested is encouraged to register on the website goingforgrowth.com and a link to the application form will be sent to them.

ThinkBusiness.ie, powered by Bank of Ireland, has been created for Irish business owners and managers who are seeking information, resources and help on a range of business topics. It provides practical, actionable information and guidance on starting, growing and running a business.