Roundtable Series: Colleen Grady, Metcash

Colleen Grady: Metcash General Manager Merchandise, Convenience 

What changes have you seen in the industry over the past year?

Having joined Metcash nearly a year ago, moving into a wholesale supplier from a retail background, my learnings have focussed on understanding this new and challenging role and the industry. The key trends I have also observed are:

  • Technology being embraced: particularly for ordering using websites, apps, EDI and portals with scanning technology. The Metcash Convenience website represents nearly 30% of sales and has grown significantly with 14% more customers ordering this year vs last year.
  • Healthy options continue to grow: although more slowly in convenience. Great healthy snacking innovation has been growing in larger supermarkets for many years. Examples include: popcorn, health balls, trail mix packets, fresh produce and meals to go, low sugar alternatives and portion control sizes.

 What are the current issues facing the industry in your opinion?

Drawing on my experience working in convenience retail in the UK and comparing this to the Australian market my thoughts on current issues are:

  • Pricing premium for convenience compared to large supermarkets: This appears significantly higher in Australia than other overseas markets and may be reducing basket size and reducing the number of customers happy to shop their grocery top-up at a local convenience store.
  • Many direct supplier deliveries: There are currently a large number of suppliers delivering directly to smaller stores and this increases the costs of the products, costs of receiving deliveries and managing paperwork.
  • Limited range of fresh food options: In the UK, smaller stores have a higher percentage of products sold from fresh food ranges including milk, bread, produce, prepared meals and chilled products. This is because these products have a short life and people need to purchase more frequently. This range isn’t currently represented in many of the convenience stores I have visited.

 Any personal milestones or company achievements you would like to highlight?

Metcash Convenience wholesale has integrated Campbells and C-store to become one business to better service convenience stores and small businesses in Australia. This change has enabled us to focus on our customers and use the most efficient delivery service from either a Metcash distribution centre or a Campbells Cash & Carry warehouse. Recently, we have launched a new wholesale pricing communication in our catalogues with a focus on carton pricing, recommended retail price and expected retail margin. These prices are ex GST to reflect that our customers are businesses. This change helps to communicate that we are a wholesale business supporting convenience retailers.

What are your predictions for the industry over the next 12 months?

I expect the trends in technology and health to continue to grow. I’m also looking forward to seeing innovation and new store formats in convenience. The Foodary stores are a great example with exciting changes in fresh food ranges and new services. Only by trying new customer offers will we see what works best.  Additionally, I believe all convenience retailers and suppliers will be looking for opportunities to become more efficient with supply chain and deliveries which will help them lower their prices and range great product offers. I’m hopeful that Convenience retailing growth will outpace the overall grocery market next year following the trend in many overseas countries. I look forward to contributing to this journey.


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