In June each year, Convenience & Impulse Retailing speaks to leaders from across the petrol and convenience industry to gain valuable insights on the state of the industry and highlight recent achievements from within their businesses.

Here, Coles Express Executive General Manager Michael Courtney, tells us about a refreshed retail concept, including the trial of EV charging stations.

C&I: Highlight one achievement at Coles Express you’re particularly proud of over the past 12 months.

MC: We’ve worked hard over the past year to invest in our convenience offer. Coffee is our number one seller and we’ve made huge strides to improve our customer experience and make Coles Express the best destination in the country for award-winning coffee.

We’ve invested millions into new cutting-edge automated espresso machines and a new bean blend, so our customers can be their own barista and adjust the strength and style of their brew.

Additionally, over the last year our team members adapted incredibly well to the challenges presented by COVID-19. Like most convenience stores, our sites were deemed an essential service and our team worked very hard to safely serve millions of customers during a very difficult period.

C&I: What is the primary focus for Coles Express for the remainder of 2021?

MC: Our focus this year is clearly communicating our improved offer through improved in-store messaging and design. That’s why we’re refreshing several of our stores with a new look and feel, which we think will really resonate with our customers. You’ll start to see more of this across the latter part of 2021.

This year, we’ll also continue to drive sustainability across several key areas in the business. Team member safety, emissions, waste, diversity, responsible sourcing and community partnerships are some of the areas we’ll really focus on. To provide a couple of great examples that we’re currently working on, we’re installing LED lighting in more than 100 of our stores this year, our new coffee blend is Rainforest Alliance certified, and we’re trialling EV charging stations at a number of sites.

C&I: How do you envision the next six months for convenience?

MC: We expect that some of the changes that we saw in customer shopping behaviour will begin to moderate or even reverse, with fewer people working from home. While international borders remain closed, we also expect that more Australians will be holidaying at home which means more family road trips and could provide some support for the convenience sector.

Lastly, as I’ve mentioned a few times, sustainability is becoming increasingly important to our customers, so we’ll likely see continued progress in this space.

C&I: What do you most enjoy about convenience and what is one challenge you’d like to see addressed in the industry?

MC: I love the fast-paced and competitive nature of the sector – we’re always looking to innovate to improve our offer for customers.

Across the country, we have a diverse 6,000-strong team working to serve our customers seven days a week. Leading such a dedicated group of people really inspires me and is one of the most rewarding aspects of working with Coles Express.

As an industry, I think we can all work better together to communicate how we create a more sustainable future for our customers. When each of us prioritise improvement in emissions, waste, diversity, and responsible sourcing, the industry makes a substantial contribution to creating a more sustainable future for our customers and communities.

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