With more than 30 years of high-level retail experience under his belt, in 2006 Pat Kelly made a life-changing decision: to captain his own ship. Today, his company OutdoorLiving.ie boasts one of the world’s most extensive ranges of quality outdoor furniture and garden accessories, spanning everything from greenhouse and barbecues to bean bags and garden heaters. Kelly and his family-led team now employ 30 sales people and continue to grow their reputation as a ‘one-stop shop’ for the Irish garden owner. “Outdoor living is the best living” is the company mantra.
“We started out by selling garden paving and bricks in the main,” Kelly tells The Sunday Business Post, “but evolved into leisure items for the garden, such as greenhouses, heaters and artificial grass.”
Kelly says that customer tastes have changed in line with his company’s evolution. “Where once we had significant demand for cast aluminium garden furniture, today approximately 70 per cent of our garden furniture sales are in hard-wearing, all-weather rattan.”
Kelly and his son Damien, director of international business development, have searched the world for the best in furniture stockists, picking up big brands including Hartman and Alexander Rose. These leading brands come in addition to OutdoorLiving.ie’s own brand range of quality furniture.
“Travel is essential for our business,” explains Kelly, “meaning we’ll be back and forth to Asia at least four times a year, and on regular buying trips across Europe, to keep on top of garden trends and to meet an ever-increasing customer demand.”
The company has also seen strong sales of its outdoor fabric material. “It looks great,” says Kelly, “works in all weathers, is quick drying and easily cleaned. Many customers comment on its modern, sharp look and prefer fabric to the hassle of less practical cushions.”
Grass is greener
The big success story of recent years, says Pat Kelly, has been the artificial grass boom. “That has been the major trend,” he states. “Artificial grass is so versatile and requires no maintenance. It means no dragging out the lawnmower, and for younger families it can help offset the kids’ impact on the garden. Artificial grass also works well when used to cover over slippery decking, or in outdoor areas where drainage is extremely bad. And it lasts: we offer a ten-year guarantee on all artificial grass, but in truth it lasts far longer than that.”
Getting to grips with your garden
Kelly’s considerable experience in Irish retail has convinced him that customer service is paramount. “While our website at outdoorliving.ie provides an overview of the full range, nothing beats coming into one of our showrooms to experience the products first hand, and to ask any questions you may have. Our policy is very definite: we will only sell what a customer needs, and that sense of trust and honesty has become a pillar of our business.”
Kelly says that a customer will often visit a showroom with a fixed idea of their requirements, but on consultation with Outdoor Living sales people will settle on a different approach. “We are very keen to understand what a customer actually needs for their garden. We advise on how best to avoid clutter, and will interrogate the needs of a particular customer or family. We won’t sell an eight-seater piece of garden furniture, for example, when a six-seater will better meet their needs. A happy customer is always the end goal.”
Beyond the back garden
In more recent times, the creation of effective outdoor living spaces for commercial customers has become a thriving element of the OutdoorLiving.ie business. Marshalled by John Crean, head of commercial sales, the service adopts the ‘one-stop shop’ approach, and has helped luxury hotels and businesses in Ireland and abroad make the very most of their al fresco offering.
“We’ve worked with clients including Cabra Castle, Ardgillan Castle, Powerscourt Hotel, the Radisson Group and Clayton Hotels,” Kelly says, “and have completed major orders for hotels in Spain, Portugal and Lithuania.”
For a taster of the complete, competitively-priced service, commercial clients may contact John Crean by emailing [email protected]
Three paths to outdoor living success
You can visit Outdoor Living at its two stunning showrooms in Glen of the Downs, Co Wicklow, and in Dunboyne, Co Meath.
Visit Glen of the Downs to view an unrivalled range of outdoor products including outdoor furniture, greenhouses and barbecues, all displayed in a natural outdoor setting.
The Dunboyne showroom, meanwhile, is home to Ireland’s widest selection of artificial grass, with a huge range of artificial plants, heaters and beanbags also available to browse and buy.
At each location, customer service is key: the Outdoor Living team pride themselves on an expert and authentic approach.
Opening times are Monday to Saturday, from 9.30am to 5.30pm, and on Sundays from 12.30pm to 5.30pm.
You can also check out the breadth of products on offer at outdoorliving.ie, and call 01-2878404 to discuss your outdoor living requirements, in detail, with one of the team.