The board of the Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) has announced Theo Foukkare will become the new CEO effective from 1 February.
In his first interview as AACS CEO, Foukkare said he was very privileged to be appointed to such a prestigious position within the industry previously held by Jeff Rogut who held the role for close to a decade before stepping down late last year.
“Firstly, I am humbled and proud to lead and represent the retailer and supplier members of the association,” Foukkare said.
“I would like to thank the board of AACS and the executive team for their due diligence in the recruitment process and putting their faith in me to lead the organisation into the future.”
In a statement from the AACS board announcing Foukkare’s appointment, some insights were provided into the recruitment process.
“The process ran through Six Degrees Executive, with over 100 applicants and some very strong candidates both externally and internally from the industry.
“Theo has a wealth of experience in the channel, spending 17 years at Pacific Optics and he is looking forward to taking AACS to the next level.”
The AACS Board confirmed that while Foukkare commences as the CEO of AACS on 1 February, he will not cease his role as Chair of The Distributors until 31 March.
“It was important to get Theo into the role as quickly as possible, as we have a lot of work to do from a regulatory, engagement and events perspective and we thank The Distributors for their understanding,” the statement from the AACS board concluded.
Foukkare said that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented emerging issues that need to be immediately addressed.
“There are some significant challenges ahead in light of the last 12 months, however my commitment to the industry is that every day I will be working for you on advocacy with government, on member engagement and sharing global insights.
“I am incredibly passionate about this industry and I have an intimate understanding of how it operates as well as an extensive network that enables me to create a better future for everyone involved in the petrol and convenience channel.
“I will have three key priorities in the role for my first 12 months. Firstly, I plan to re-engage with our membership base and listen to any concerns that they may have with the association, so I can ensure we are adding as much value as possible.
“Secondly, I will be fighting the ridiculous decision by the federal government to make e-cigarettes only available by prescription through pharmacies and I will look to have this decision overturned, although this will not be easy.
“My final focus will be the $2 billion retail sales opportunity that is available to the convenience retailing sector from packaged alcohol sales. It is simply crazy that packaged alcohol is available in so many countries globally, and the Australian government continues to have their head in the sand, with our current legislation being outdated.”
Foukkare will be based on the Gold Coast, but also plans to travel extensively subject to border restrictions. He has already started making enquiries into satellite offices in Sydney and Melbourne to ensure he maintains close ties with key retail and supplier groups.
Foukkare has over two decades of experience in the petrol and convenience retailing industry. Prior to being appointed as CEO of AACS, Foukkare was general manager of sales at Pacific Optics – a company he joined in 2003. He also has previous experience in the tobacco retailing industry after joining the graduate program with Rothmans within British American Tobacco in the late 1990s after studying at the University of Wollongong graduating with a commerce degree.