Meet the next generation of industry innovators

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Young talent who have grown up in the industry are beginning to make their mark in P&C. Convenience World spoke with two rising stars to find out how they’re shaping the industry and where they see the future of convenience retailing.

Andrew Cardinale
Brand & Category Manager, New Sunrise

How did you get into the P&C industry?
You can say that retail is in my blood, as from a very young age I was exposed to various types of retail business in my family. My father, Steve Cardinale, co-founded New Sunrise, Jack & Co and Fix Convenience. He taught me early on to challenge the status quo and he has fuelled my passion for supporting independents in the highly competitive P&C industry. Having a retailing guru as a dad is pretty special and inspiring.

What do you enjoy about your role?
I love how fast-paced, dynamic and diverse my role is. No one day is ever the same and there’s always something new that keeps me on my toes. What I most enjoy, however, is working with and representing the best independent retailers in Australia. It gives me great satisfaction to play my part in changing the traditional retail landscape in the P&C industry and supporting the New Sunrise network of retailers to achieve their business goals.

What do you do differently?
At New Sunrise, we don’t see ourselves as just another buying group. We don’t take a ‘one-size-fits-most’ approach to retailing, as every store is different, with different needs and different shopper missions. This gives us greater flexibility to customise and premiumise our consumer offers, which helps our retailers grow ahead of the curve.
I’m proud of the role I’ve played as brand manager, executing the Sunrise brand in 60 stores across Australia, and also customising brand strategies to suit different retailers’ goals. Helping retailers execute their own brands has been particularly rewarding.

Where is the industry headed?
I believe we’re faced with exciting times ahead, where technology will play a big part in streamlining our industry, especially in how we pay and how products are delivered (be it to store or to consumers). The role that convenience sites play will continue to evolve, with ‘retail hubs’ being created to offer much more than the traditional categories of today, be it pharmaceutical to fashion, electronics or even alcohol.
The key difference will be in how these products are either delivered to store or delivered to consumers, whether it be click and collect, drone delivery, or door to door service.
The industry is well placed, with the sheer location and breadth of sites located in all parts of Australia from major cities and towns to remote-access areas. One thing that will remain the same, however, is that we’ll still have the need to gather and meet, to socialise and eat and drink together, and have somewhere to rest in our travels and to maintain the vehicle of the future.

What advice do you have for someone beginning their
career in P&C?
In a highly competitive retail landscape, don’t be afraid to be different, try new things and to think outside the box. Constantly having an entrepreneurial mindset could lead to the next thing that revolutionises the industry or delivers growth in your role. If not, worst case, you can learn from it and try something else.
I’m also a big believer of having a mentor, someone you admire and look up to in the industry. Taking the time to catch up regularly with your mentor in the P&C industry will allow you to talk through any challenges you’re facing, brainstorm new ideas and allow you to learn from them.

 

Hollie Fox
Site Operator, BP Tugun, Queensland

How did you get into the P&C industry?
My dad started with BP 33 years ago, so for as long as I can remember I’ve been behind the counter chatting away to customers. It’s only in the last year that I’ve been full time, building up our newly renovated site alongside a fresh new offer.

What do you enjoy about the industry?
No day is the same. There’s always a challenge to overcome and our market is constantly evolving, which leads us to create new ideas in order to satisfy our customers’ needs.

What do you do differently?
We reopened the store just over a year ago with the intention of not just being a service station, but a place to come for coffee, fresh/alternative food and, more importantly, a place customers will enjoy coming to, whether for fuel or not.
We’re lucky enough to have such a health-orientated community surrounding us. This has led to a major part of our store being dedicated to health foods and other alternative products. I must say it’s my pride and joy. There’s not a day where we don’t get a comment about the great offer we have, whether it be about the health foods or our freshly made sandwiches and muffins. Customers leave the store almost gobsmacked and have to double check to see if they’ve just walked into a service station.
We try to make as much of our food from scratch, on site and are always coming up with new menu ideas. We make Turkish sandwiches and muffins every morning from scratch and when customers find out that they aren’t frozen and processed, nine times out of 10 the customer buys and they come back wanting more, or even better, the word spreads.
Social media has had a major impact on our business. We never knew how powerful it could be and we’ve had people travelling hours just because they saw a post pop up in their news feed. It’s mainly dedicated to our fresh food and alternative products, and – much to our lovely suppliers’ disappointment – it’s not just promoting confectionery and your mainstream drinks.
We have every kind of clientele coming into our store every day. Yes, you’ve still got customers wanting a pie and a coke, but because we’ve given them the option, they won’t just stop there. Did you ever think that a tradie would pick a kombucha over an energy drink? Well times have changed and the knowledge about health is out there now.

Where is the industry headed?
Fresh and more convenient food choices have already hit the ground running. We are definitely heading in the direction of European convenience, and why shouldn’t we?
I was lucky enough to go away with UCB on their annual study tour this year in Europe. Although we were already offering our fresh food, it was made clear that consistency and presentation is what makes their convenience stores stand out and work so well. If you’re willing to make changes and adapt to the ever-changing market then the industry will be able to cope. If we continue to offer the same as what we were offering 10 years ago then the industry will leave you behind.

What advice do you have for someone beginning their career in P&C?
Don’t be afraid to give something a go. Obviously, every market is different. But if you don’t try something and give it a good go then how will your business grow? Yes, our industry is based on fuel, but you have to think outside the box and ask yourself ‘What can I offer that will bring our customers back wanting more?’
I’m lucky enough to work alongside my dad, whose motto is: ‘We’ll give it a go; if it doesn’t work then we’ll try something else’, and that’s certainly what we’re doing. Listen to your customers’ needs and wants; at the end of the day if you aren’t pleasing them then our business won’t grow.