Leaders Forum: John-Paul Drake, Director, Drakes

John-Paul Drake, Director at Drakes, discusses his love of retailing and how he plans to grow the Drakes brand.

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

Drake: My team! I love seeing them grow and develop over time – we’ve got a lot of good people who have helped to create the business we have today, and it’s so heartwarming to see the pride they have in what they do.

I also just love retailing in general – no two days are ever the same. As a second-generation grocer in a small family business, I kind of just fell into the industry. To be honest, when I was younger I kind of just coasted along and probably squandered many of the opportunities that were in front of me. As I got older and started to learn more about the ins and outs of supermarket retailing, I truly fell in love with it – it runs in my blood, after all! Working with our team, our customers and our supplier partners, and seeing the impact that our business has on our ecosystem is really fulfilling for me.

C&I: What have been the biggest highlights for Drakes over the past 12 months?

Drake: Definitely hitting our 50 years in business! When Dad first started out in the industry, the bigger players told him he didn’t have the smarts to make it in the supermarket game. 50 years on, 6,500 team members and 67 stores later – I think he might just get there. Like he says, we’re only just getting started, but it is nice to hit this milestone, as well as reflect on and celebrate Drakes’ achievements during this time.

C&I: What will be your main priorities for the remainder of 2024?

Drake: We’re trialling a new campaign, running 50 deals for 50 days. We’re testing different promotional strategies, from percentages off to half price, to dollar off shop amounts, to find out what our customers really want. Now that we’re operating under our own marketing banner, it’s up to us continue to push our own limits and boundaries.

C&I: What is your company doing to meet changing customer demands?

Drake: We continue to work with our supplier partners to get New Product Development (NPD) into the market as quicky as possible. We’re first to market on many occasions, due to our nimbleness and spread of stores. In this day and age, our customers are seeing new products on social media before they hit the shelves, so it’s critical for us to get these in as quickly as possible, and ahead of the market.

C&I: What do you predict the year ahead in convenience to look like?

Drake: I think 2025 is going to be a tough year for both convenience and supermarkets alike. We’re already seeing trouble in the hospitality sector, and this will slowly start to affect smaller or single-store operators in our sector who don’t have the right structures in place. But like they say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

To read more insights from leaders within the P&C and independent grocery channels, check out the latest issue of Convenience and Impulse Retailing magazine.

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