HIGH FLYERS: Peter puts his own stamp on third generation family department store

Peter McVeigh
Peter McVeigh

In the High Flyers spotlight is Peter McVeigh, third generation family owner and managing director of Donaghy’s department store in Banbridge. It started life as a shoe shop in 1960 by Peter’s grandmother Eileen and has now grown to house Ireland’s largest collection of children’s shoes, children’s clothing, women’s and men’s clothing, shoes and accessories alongside an extensive sports department, employing more than 60 staff

What was your first job?

My first job was working on the family farm but I also worked in Donaghy’s. We grew up in the shop. I still have my first pay packet that my grandmother Eileen Donaghy gave me. It was £5 for a full Saturday’s work. My wife Orlagh would say I haven’t spent it yet either.

What qualifications do you have?

I have a degree in digital media communications from UUJ; and advanced GNVQ in construction and built environment.

What do you attribute your success to?

I learned about hard work, drive, and determination from a very early age from my parents. When you’re third generation in a business you have to put your own stamp on it while respecting what has gone before. I’m not afraid to try new ideas, I’m focused on customer experience, and I am constantly learning from my successes and failures.

How would you describe yourself to someone who’d never met you?

I’m honest, straight talking, fair and approachable - I hope. I’d probably add ‘busy’ into that mix as along with the business and farm, we’ve four children under eight and two Great Danes.

Who do you look up to in business?

Michael O’ Leary. Despite being subject to criticism he remains straight talking, with no nonsense and a bit of a laugh. Ryanair is constantly bringing innovation, efficiency, and value to the customer experience. Their social media persona is fantastic.

How do you get the best out of people who work for you?

I am constantly trying to communicate a clear vision and plan for the business. This includes adding structure such as regular meetings and huddles while giving feedback and positive encouragement to the team.

If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?

My wish is for a functioning government. This stop/start government and a lack of clear planning to take advantage of the unique advantages that we have here, doesn’t help business.

What website or app could you not do without?

Whatsapp - but I am now obsessed with the app that gives me stats on the readings of new solar panels at the shop. It’s fascinating.

What was the last book you read?

‘The One Thing’ by Gary Keller.

What car do you drive?

Audi Q7. Four kids and two dogs need lots of room.

Tell us something interesting about yourself?

I once sold the Chinese market back their own shoes, but I don’t know if that should be printed. Thank goodness there is no space to elaborate!

What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?

I love being outdoors and nature. This no doubt comes from growing up on a farm.