“The best selling chocolate bar is probably the Twix”; reflects Ronan O’Brien, Assistant Supervisor in the Rehab Enterprises SMILES Newsagent’s in AIB Bank Centre in Ballsbridge, Dublin. He serves thousands of people their magazines, sweets, dry cleaning, birthday cards and various must-have items every week. “I’ve worked here now for over ten years, and no two days are the same. We have about 750 customers a day here on average so there is a good mix of regulars and new faces. Our customers are very important and over the years I’ve built up a relationship with many of them. We listen to them and their needs so we adapt small things to suit them.
“This job gives me independence both financially and socially as well as being good for my mental health. It’s part of who I am. I have a learning disability and I found school tough going; especially reading and writing. After school I went to National Learning Network, (Rehab Group’s training division) to do a retail sales course and I found it much easier to learn there. There wasn’t the pressure of deadlines as the training and examinations were continuous. They gave me lots of support and help. Now SMILES Newsagents are really flexible and understanding too. The staff here work well as a team.”
Twenty-five people work in Rehab Enterprise’s retail division, staffing ten SMILES Newsagents, which are situated in large employers’ premises, such as Citibank, Eircom, Ulster Bank, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Vodafone, RTÉ and Trinity College residence Trinity Hall, as well as Leinster House. Staff members are provided with training and support, and some, like Ronan, progress in their roles and take on additional responsibilities.
“I’ve been an assistant supervisor for a few years now and the responsibility that comes with that job is really good for my confidence. I have to look after a lot of different things, from stock control to banking to training in new staff, and I like it all to go well. I get a great sense of satisfaction when everything runs smoothly. Most of all, this job gives me a reason to get up every morning.”