Convenience & Impulse Retailing will be getting to know the entire NZACS Board. Here we meet Peter Morton, Director of Herbert Morton Ltd.

For 33 years, Herbert Morton Ltd has provided accounting and management advice to convenience store operators throughout New Zealand. Morton is also one of the founding board members of the New Zealand Association of Convenience Stores (NZACS).

C&I: Peter, how did you get involved with NZACS?

Morton: When the Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) in Australia decided to form a branch in New Zealand, I was part of the set up board in 2000. Then in 2008, the Australians wanted to separate, and a New Zealand organisation was formed in 2009. I have been a board member since the start. Herbert Morton Ltd looks after the accounting side of the organisation as well.

C&I: How important is it for the New Zealand convenience sector to have an association like NZACS supporting them?

Morton: NZACS has been very important as a lobbying group on many issues over the years, including security of employees and tobacco issues. We are able to talk directly to the government on the issues affecting our sector. The association is also great for networking with events held throughout the year to allow operators and suppliers to interact with each other in a social setting. NZACS is involved in education with the Peter Jowett scholarship each year and we also hold convenience store simulation courses in conjunction with AACS.

C&I: What were the major successes for NZACS in 2020?

Morton: Helping businesses to survive in a COVID world and being a voice for convenience stores with fuel to establish them as essential trade by the government.

C&I: There were a lot of tough times in 2020, what were the most inspiring or pivotal moments you saw throughout the year?

Morton: The lockdown in New Zealand in March and April were the most challenging times for the industry, but most operators were deemed essential businesses and stayed open with different and varied success depending on their location. Again, the Auckland lockdown in August was challenging as it cut off northland and Auckland from the rest of NZ for two weeks. And of course, the more recent snap lockdown in Auckland. The inspiring fact is that by doing these actions New Zealand has remained for the most part, with an economy that is going alright. There are some that are hurting in the tourist centres, such as Wanaka, Queenstown and Rotorua to name a few, but the rest of the convenience store businesses are travelling ok.

C&I: What are you personally looking forward to most in 2021? 

Morton: I’m definitely looking forward to a COVID free landscape. It will take some time as the vaccines begin to roll out to reduce the spread of the virus.

C&I: How do you see the convenience landscape evolving into 2021?

Morton: The sector has been evolving and will continue to do so. COVID gave the sector a boost as we were allowed to trade and the customers are seeing what we have, and are choosing to come to us, rather than lining up at the supermarket for those convenient items.

Also, we are becoming the location to get the meal for tonight, the milk and bread and the coffee. Coffee and food to go is so important to the sector and this is where our growth will come from.

C&I: What is your key message to the convenience category this year? 

Morton: Get your food offer right for each location. This will give good growth to those who get it right. 2021 will be a good year but it will remain challenging for those in the traditionally tourist markets.

C&I: What are the greatest challenges facing the sector in 2021? 

Morton: Keeping positive with the threat of COVID coming into the community again and keeping profitable with the increase of 5.8 per cent to the minimum wage, which will drive up costs and retail prices.

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