As part of the 2022 Leaders Forum, Steve Cardinale talks about how New Sunrise is driving retail growth and staying ahead of the changing needs of the dynamic convenience market.

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

Steve: We’ve been making a big impact in our local communities with the deployment of 400 automated external defibrillators (AED) across our retail network and our work with Heart of the Nation to build awareness of cardiac arrest. We have already made a difference with a life being saved within two weeks of an AED being installed in Mood Foods, Tasmania.

Another highlight is our people and the way we are fast to provide practical solutions to meet the changing needs of this dynamic market. We have had a very successful year on many levels – the results of this have been seen in our growth in store number to 1,100 sites, and our overall store sales increasing by 20 per cent (like for like). Lookout for the sunrise TV Campaign featuring Sunny the Kookaburra building awareness of independents.

We’ve also maintained our ranking in the CMA results where New Sunrise continues to hold its first place as an independent retailer and has moved up to third overall, knocking off one of the corporates. This is the first time a national independent retail network has broken into the top three. The gap in the CMA results between New Sunrise and the corporate retailers has never been smaller and the gap between us and the independents, has never been greater.  However, we can’t be complacent, and we won’t be.

C&I: What will be your main priorities for the remainder of 2022?

Steve: Our priority in 2022 is to drive retail growth by sailing up wind. Retail, like many other industries, is facing strong headwinds. We know the increasing costs of labour, services, inventory, and transport will drive up inflation and the cost of living, which in turn will drive down consumer and business confidence.

New Sunrise is working to fine tune its marketing strategies to make sure our robust but flexible retail platform will continue to drive growth, so our independent retailers have the tools to sail up wind. If Covid has taught us anything it would be to not be complacent on both the fundamentals of retailing (operational store standards, staff inductions and trading, inventory management etc) and the changing retail mix of products, price, promotion, and place. To continue to grow in this tough market we will continue to build on our mission of helping people in our communities enjoy life and get on with their day.

C&I: What is New Sunrise doing to meet changing customer demands?

Steve: We have five clear initiatives:

1. Giving shoppers more reasons to stop at New Sunrise stores by recalibration of our pricing and promotional mix on key categories.

2. Working with our trade partners to reduce costs in the supply chain and store operations.

3. Adding e-commerce to our promotional mix with our new app Grabbit Local.

4. Being more visible with data, brand and promotions; building on the great work we have done in 2021.

5. Strengthening loyalty and being part of our customers’ daily routine.

C&I: What does your crystal ball say about the year ahead in convenience?

Steve: Speed has become the new buzzword in the industry as we move into this new age of ‘phigital’. The polarisation of retail offers from cheap/ transactional, and quality/experience will only become greater.

Supply will continue to be our biggest challenge, and this could be a problem for the independents, given the influence Coles and Woolworths have in Australia.

Rationalisation of store – we have seen a tremendous amount of new to industry stores. This will probably slow down over the next few years with the increase of the above economic headwinds.

We will see a move to more robotics front of house and back of house in QSR and restaurants, I can see this also happening in our roadhouses. Robots are likely the answer to the last mile solution.

What won’t change is that people will still be on the move and while they are moving, they will need to eat, drink, and use bathrooms, and no amount of technology can replace the ‘now’ especially when it comes to a coffee.

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