That Foyleside feeling in Derry after 20 years

Members of staff who have worked at Foyleside since the first day it opened.

Members of staff who have worked at Foyleside since the first day it opened.

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This week Foyleside Shopping Centre celebrates 20 years in Derry.

The store opened on Monday, September 25, in an event described as the most important 
milestone in Derry’s 
retailing history.

Costing £65m Foyleside housed up to 39 shops employing 1,200 people. It was officially opened by Environment Minister 
Malcolm Moss.

Cutting the ribbon to open the centre were Foyle M.P., MEP Mr John Hume, Mr Peter Salsbury, Managing Director Marks & Spencer, Mayor of Derry John Kerr, and Malcolm 
Moss M.P.

As the centre celebrates two decades in Derry we spoke to nine members of staff from Foyleside who were all there on the first day and still remain on the staff.

Name: Adrian O’Brien (OB)

Store: Foyleside Centre

Position: Security supervisor

How did you get the job in Foyleside?

I was doing security in Foyleside when it was being built. Plus I bunged the interviewer £100!

Do you remember the opening?

Very well. There was a great buzz about the city. There was a great crowd at the opening, people all looking forward to seeing the big stores.

How much has changed in the last 20 years?

There is a great emphasis put on customer care. The Centre is a lot brighter and there’s a large selection of high named stores.

What do you love most about the job?

It’s great to meet different types of people from all walks of life. There’s always something new at Foyleside.

Why have you stayed for 20 years?

I love the job. I love Foyleside. There’s a great bunch of people 
working with me, plus the interviewer said if I stayed 20 years 
I’d get my £100 back!

Name: Annmarie O’Hagan

Store: Boots

Position: Healthcare Advisor

How did you get the job in Foyleside?

Started working for Boots in the Richmond Centre in 1990 and moved to Foyleside when it opened.

Do you remember the opening?

Yes, we all looked great with our new shop and new uniforms and we all wore a fresh flower.

How much has changed in the last 20 years?

Not a lot has changed except we all look older!

What do you love most about the job?

I love the customer interaction and helping people by giving them good advice and I hope the customer feels the same.

Why have you stayed for 20 years?

I stayed because Boots is a great company to work for and I love the buzz and atmosphere in Foyleside and there is always people about.

Name: Donna O’Doherty

Store: Dunnes Stores

Position: HR manager

How did you get the job in Foyleside?

I was transferred from Dunnes in the Richmond Centre.

Do you remember the opening?

There was a stampede of people that seemed to go on forever with the centre and carparks jammed until Christmas.

How much has changed in the last 20 years?

Advances in technology, the introduction of scanning tills, online ordering has revolutionised the way people shopped in the 1990’s. It was mostly cash and cheques and only a few credit cards, now it is mostly card sales and cash with cheques no longer accepted.

What do you love most about the job?

I love the variety, things are constantly changing and no two days are ever the same.

Why have you stayed for 20 years?

Dunnes is a great place to work and staff and managers are among the best in the business.

Name: Gerry Ballard

Store: Foyleside Centre

Position: Security Officer

How did you get the job in Foyleside?

While working in security in a different capacity I heard they were looking for security in Foyleside. I was looking to change my job so I applied for a job in Foyleside Security. I got an interview and passed and the rest is history.

Do you remember the opening?

What I remember about the opening are the crowds of people who turned up and the expressions on all their faces of happiness, delight and the thought of a brand new shopping centre in town to shop. Great.

How much has changed in the last 20 years?

The Centre has changed for the better. For example, when the style and fashion has changed the different shops have changed with it and so we have new stores and staff to carry on the good work and customer care.

What do you love most about the job?

The chance to meet so many different people in all different walks of life - old people, disabled people, young people, families and a lot of them have become very good friends. Then you have your usual suspects who are part of Foyleside folklore down through the years.

Why have you stayed for 20 years?

The people I have met in Foyleside who either work or shop in the Centre are so friendly, kind and caring it would be a sin to leave. Where else would you get a job like this?

Long may it last!

Name: Harry Clifford

Store: Foyleside

Position: Mall officer

How did you get the job in Foyleside?

I applied via the Job Market.

Do you remember the opening?

Yes, very large crowds, the place was buzzing.

How much has changed in the last 20 years?

The job is now more customer service orientated which I love.

What do you love most about the job?

I love helping customers, talking to people and meeting and greeting tourists.

Why have you stayed for 20 years?

I live locally and enjoy meeting all the locals and visitors and work with a great team in Foyleside.

Name: Joanne Concannon

Store: Eason’s

Position: Assistant manager

How did you get the job in Foyleside?

I applied for a full time retail assistant with the job market and I got it.

Do you remember the opening?

I remember the first day it was opened. Foyleside was hectic. I was on the till when the shutters went up and the amount of customers that came through our doors was amazing. Foyleside Shopping Centre was a new and exciting venture for the city.

How much has changed in the last 20 years?

A lot has changed. A lot of store changes, either in down sizing or changing for the better. New stores have come into Foyleside and also the opening of the food court.

What do you love most about the job?

Building up a good relationship with customers who have shopped at Eason’s over the 20 years. Seeing Eason’s move with the times and having a good working relationship with excellent staff.

Why have you stayed for 20 years?

I have stayed with Eason’s for 20 years because I was able to build an excellent career. I worked my way up from full time retail assistant to assistant store manager. I love my job.

Name: Lesa Taylor

Store: Foyleside M&S

Position: Sales assistant

How did you get the job in Foyleside?

Applied for the job through the Job Market, attended for interview, then got a letter to say I got the job.

Do you remember the opening?

I remember the hype and excitement on the opening day.

How much has changed in the last 20 years?

The store has seen a few internal improvements but it is still as busy as it was 20 years ago.

What do you love most about the job?

Meeting new and regular customers on a daily basis is the most rewarding part of the job.

Why have you stayed for 20 years?

20 years has passed so quickly. I have built a lot of good friendships within the store.

Name: Mary McDaid

Store: The Body Shop

Position: 
Store manager

How did you get the job in Foyleside?

Started as a Christmas temporary worker in November, 1990.

Do you remember the opening?

Yes, the Body Shop had a ‘wishing chair’ and children from local primary schools came in and made a wish on the chair. It was very touching and funny. We also had mime artists.

How much has changed in the last 20 years?

A lot has changed with new stores and new customers every year.

What do you love most about the job?

I love meeting new people and customers and working with a great team in the Body Shop.

Why have you stayed for 20 years?

I stayed because Body Shop always have new campaigns and product launches and I love the interaction with customers.

Name: Roisin Heavron

Store: Iceland

Position: Till operator

How did you get the job in Foyleside?

I applied via an advertisemnt.

Do you remember the opening?

Yes, there was a lot of people in the centre and a great atmosphere.

How much has changed in the last 20 years?

New technology shops, great fashion shops and something for everyone.

What do you love most about the job?

I love meeting people from all walks of life.

Why have you stayed for 20 years?

I love the job and I work with lovely colleagues.