Vicki O’Toole is Managing Director of JJ O’Toole Ltd., Ireland’s leading purveyor of packaging and design. Founded in 1914, the Limerick company is Ireland’s oldest packaging company and the preferred partner to thousands of clientele in Ireland and the UK which include blue chip retailers such as Brown Thomas, Selfridges & Co, Newbridge Silverware, Dunnes Stores, Blarney Woollen Mills, Lloyds Pharmacy Group and Shaws.
Vicki was born and raised in Limerick. She was very involved in equestrian events throughout her childhood years and continued to excel in sport when she attended boarding school in Co Wicklow. On finishing school, Vicki studied Law in UCC, only to later decide that this was not for her. She travelled to Paris to au pair and later returned to work briefly in the family business.
Vicki met Fergus O’Toole, grandson of the founder John O’Toole, in November 1984 and by the following year they were married. They had 5 children and Vicki spent many years as a stay at home mum. She followed her love for sport by taking up golf during her spare time and before long was playing to a handicap of 12 and representing her Golf Club in team competitions.
Fergus was appointed MD of JJ O’Toole Ltd when his own father retired from the business in 1985.
In 2002, with the introduction of the bag tax, the company lost over 40% of its turnover overnight. As before, with world wars and recessions, the company found itself in another crisis. During that same period, Fergus suffered ill health. Vicki chose to join her husband in the company part time to support and assist him with its redevelopment.
Over the following years, Vicki and Fergus gradually switched roles. Fergus retired in 2008 and Vicki stepped into the role Managing Director. Sadly, Fergus passed away in 2010. Initially Vicki considered selling the company so as to focus on her children. However after some time, she threw herself right back into her role and concentrated on growing the company, upskilling all departments and increasing the company’s product offering, particularly in the eco friendly sector.
In 2011, Vicki was awarded the overall Image Magazine Business Woman of the Year Award in recognition of her hard work and dedication to JJ O’Toole Ltd. In 2014 JJ O’Toole Ltd. celebrated 100 years in business, a milestone Vicki is truly proud of. She won the best Women Led Ulster Bank award in the Munster region in 2015. The Company was a finalist in the 2015 Limerick Chamber Awards in the Service Category and came out on top in the 2016 SFA Awards ceremony in Dublin by winning the Best Service Company. In 2018 the company was back to its winning ways and were finalists in the Shelf Life Supplier and Retail Excellence of Ireland awards.
Since winning the Image Magazine overall Business Woman of the Year, she has spoken at many events around the country such as for Act for Meningitis in Galway, NI Family Business Forum in Belfast and the National Export Hub in Shannon Airport.
As she continues to grow the business and be mum to five kids, Vicki has little free time but when she does, she enjoys gardening, walking and catching up with her family and friends. She hopes in time, to write a book.