Darren Park

Leaders Forum: Darren Park, CEO, United Convenience Buyers

As part of the 2023 C&I Industry Leaders Forum, Darren Park, CEO, United Convenience Buyers, says we should use our collective network as an industry to sell a message of community and a consistently safe place to shop.

C&: What have been the highlights for UCB over the past six to 12 months?

Park: Over the last six months, UCB members, trade partners and my UCB team have successfully driven continuous improvement initiatives and aligned to our growth objectives. From further improving our overall NPS, to continuing to push the boundaries on the thoughtful use of technology (eg UCB Online Sales Day) that connects members and trade partners to create shared value. And of course, the 2023 UCB National Member Conference and Trade Show, where our largest ever attendance enjoyed arguably our best ever Trade Show, picked up valuable insights from Australian and international guests, and simply enjoyed the company of friends and colleagues.

Personally, partnering trade partners, UCB members and Heart of the Nation to drive the placement of more than 150 AEDs, is one highlight that connects us with our communities.

C&: What will be your main priorities for the remainder of 2023?

Park: The balance of 2023 challenges us as a business and industry across many of the same issues that we have dealt with for the last 18 months. To navigate these challenges, UCB members will continue to build on providing their well-known personalised customer service, leveraging their local community connections, optimising product assortment and execution, and finding unique ways to add value to the shopping experience with programs such as Speed2Shelf.

As an industry, we share with suppliers the pressures in areas such a supply chain and communication – building shared outcomes in these areas will drive massive dividends for us all.

C&: What are the most important topics the industry should be discussing in 2023?

Park: There are many topics that we could share, where we focus though requires a shared approach. Supply chain efficiency is the first topic that comes to my mind. Suppliers (and retailers) need to keep working on the smooth and efficient delivery of their products to store. The challenge lies in managing logistics, maintaining appropriate inventory levels, and coordinating with multiple supply partners in different locations to meet varying demands.

I believe the second topic is relationship management. Building and maintaining strong relationships with convenience retailers is crucial for us both. This involves effective communication, understanding retailer needs, and providing reliable customer service. Suppliers must proactively engage with retailers, address any concerns or issues promptly, and collaborate on strategies to drive sales and mutual growth.

C&: What does your crystal ball tell you about the future of convenience in Australia?

Park: Community engagement and local focus is the key. Convenience retailers can differentiate themselves by fostering strong connections with their local communities. This may involve supporting local producers, participating in community events, and engaging in philanthropic initiatives. We have a natural advantage over many other shopper options, let’s use our collective network reach to sell a message of community, a consistently safe place to shop and an industry that is responsive to shopper needs. If we can get this right, we’ll make our own future.

C&: What do you enjoy most about what you do?

Park: How could you not feel grateful for the growth our channel is driving, as a result of our collective hard work? There’s simply so much variety in our industry, we get to touch every area across business management and where there is nothing that any of us do, that we do alone. We need the help of each other and for myself and my UCB team, that’s our secret sauce. It’s how we continue to make ourselves available to suppliers and members, in a way that is effective, personable and enjoyable to work with.

C&: Are there any other messages you’d like to share with the industry?

Park: The convenience industry is constantly evolving, and staying proactive and adaptable is the key to our industry’s success. By embracing innovation, prioritising customer experience, fostering partnerships, and being mindful of sustainability and market trends, we can position all our businesses for growth and maintain an industry- wide competitive edge in servicing the needs of our shoppers.

This article originally appeared in the June/July issue of Convenience & Impulse Retailing magazine, which is available online here.

To stay up to date on the latest industry headlines, sign up to the C&I e-newsletter.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top