FoodWorks have celebrated a successful year with over 500 store owners and suppliers attending the 2016 FoodWorks Conference.

CEO Rick Wight, chief procurement & commercial officer, Anthony Abdallah and chief operating officer, Kym Coventry of the AUR (Australian United Retailers Ltd) senior executive team addressed the conference in Thailand, outlining the company’s new retail strategies, developed specifically to grow and support independent retailers in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Mr Wight emphasised the business’ priorities were focused on three simple elements:

  1. Generating sales growth
  2. Enhancing margins
  3. Ensuring sustainable business growth into the future

“AUR is evolving into a ‘house of brands’, with FoodWorks driving the expansion as the core and major brand. Diversifying will enable us to grow the business by attracting more stores to the network, whilst continuing to support independently branded retailers who have their own brand equity and choose not to operate under the FoodWorks brand,” Mr Wight said.

New format FoodWorks

Mr Wight explained that the company was in a solid period of growth. The three new FoodWorks formats rolled out from 2017: FoodWorks Supermarkets, FoodWorks Local and FoodWorks Express, would provide sustainable growth for the future by catering to the size and location of the stores as well as the changing customer needs in these communities.

“The successful implementation of our new strategies and formats requires a collaborative effort from our staff, suppliers and retailers. Stores need to strive to find an edge over their competition and make sure they continue to tailor their offers to customers. We are confident that the structures we are putting into place now will support independent retailers well into the future,” he said.

In addition to the senior executive team, attendees at the conference also heard from a number of guest speakers including:

  • Business commentator Peter Switzer, who had some positive reflections on the current and future state of the economy and its impact on the retail landscape.
  • Motivational speaker Peter Thurin outlined strategies to empower staff, the power of innovative thinking and the inability of ‘good intentions’ to get things done.
  • International supermarket industry expert Paul Foley discussed specific retail issues such as: not trying to emulate your competitors, providing exceptional service and opportunities for reducing costs, and
  • Leading business strategist Michael Bettridge provided insights into the traditional and new media landscape, the importance of maintaining authenticity and the recent popularity of catalogues.

Awards

One of the conference highlights is The FoodWorks Store Excellence Awards, which were announced at a gala dinner.  The major store award winners were:

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FoodWorks National Large Store of the Year: Agnes Water, Queensland (L to R) Foodworks COO Kym Coventry, Peter Kinder & Michelle Kinder from FoodWorks Agnes Water and FoodWorks CEO Rick Wight.)

The FoodWorks National Large Store of the Year went to Agnes Water in Queensland for its outstanding performance across a number of levels including: its interactive layout, outstanding engagement with customers and community, with special mention made to the excellent range of organic produce available.

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FoodWorks National Medium Store of the Year: Yackandandah, Victoria (L to R) Foodworks COO Kym Coventry, Andrew Reid (on behalf of Nick Cook) and FoodWorks CEO Rick Wight.)

The FoodWorks National Medium Store of the Year was awarded to Yackandandah in Victoria for its excellent customer service and involvement with the local community. Special mention was made about the store’s excellent community rewards program as well as the outstanding quality of the deli and fresh food ranges.

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FoodWorks National Small Store of the Year: East Corrimal, New South Wales (L to R) Foodworks COO Kym Coventry, Richard Rabay from FoodWorks East Corrimal and FoodWorks CEO Rick Wight.)

The FoodWorks National Small Store of the Year went to East Corrimal in New South Wales for its excellent merchandising, presentation standards and exceptional customer service. Special mention was made to the Grab & Go section in the store which was seen as a strong point of difference in the local area.

In addition to the above the following special recognition awards were:

The Penny Chambers Young Employee Award – named in honour of a vibrant, 21 year old girl whose life was tragically cut short during the bushfires that ravaged Kinglake in Victoria on Black Saturday, 2009. The award recognises a young FoodWorks employee who demonstrates caring about the community, customers, and the job they do.

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Penny Chambers Young Employee Award: Jessica Murphy from Burpengary, Queensland (Foodworks CEO Rick Wight at left and FoodWorks COO Kym Coventry at right.)

This year’s Penny Chambers Young Employee Award went to Jessica Murphy from Burpengary in Queensland. Recognising her contribution to fundraising and volunteering, the judges deemed that Jessica had developed a positive reputation for bringing the community together.

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FoodWorks Board Award for Most Outstanding Leadership and Innovation: Joe Khouri from Marrickville, NSW (presented by FoodWorks NSW State Manager Frank Molly at left).

The Board Award for Most Outstanding Leadership and Innovation Award was given to Joe Khouri from Marrickville in NSW, recognising Joe’s willingness to implement innovative ideas and his deep understanding of industry trends.

The FoodWorks Conference 2016 was held at Jomtien Beach in Thailand from October 16-21, 2016.

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