Leaders Forum: James Godinet, CEO, MetroMart

Leaders Forum: James Godinet, CEO, MetroMart

For the latest edition of C&I NZ, James Godinet, CEO, MetroMart, said adaption, focus and investment will be key in 2023.

As the effects of COVID-19 stabilise and the petrol and convenience channel returns to a “new normal”, James Godinet, CEO, MetroMart talks about his plans for 2023.

“There have obviously been some real shifts over the last two years in shopper behaviour and we see some trends and changes that continue to drive us to evolve.

“As convenience operators we must continue to look to improve our store offerings and continue to embrace technology also in 2023 and beyond,” said Godinet.

Although supply chain issues will, in all likelihood, continue into 2023, Godinet hopes product shortages will improve throughout the year but admits rising inflation will continue to affect consumer spending.

“Adaption, focus and investment is essential to go forward,” he said. “We have seen across the industry stores evolve and grow and excel, we have also seen numerous smaller stores close across the regions – the majority of the time, this relates to failure to adapt.”

Adaptions for MetroMart include an expanded fresh food offering and its “better for you” beverage and snack selections, including real fruit
ice cream and premium hot food like gourmet pizza and expanding the existing premium doughnut selection.

Godinet said the mid-afternoon pick-me-up “is shifting away from a full sugar chocolate bar to a protein bar”. He said similar trends
are emerging in the beverage category, with many zero-sugar options performing well.

No stranger to adversity, Godinet lost six stores in just one minute during the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. A devastating experience, Godinet said, coming through the earthquake has equipped the company to cope with challenges associated with the pandemic.

“MetroMart was actually the first retail store open in the Christchurch CBD amongst the demolition going on around us. Resilience can only make us all stronger and more determined than ever to be better,” he said.

Godinet said that as well as COVID-related challenges like staff shortages, supply chain issues, rising inflation and product shortages, the following year will bring additional challenges for the P&C channel in New Zealand.

“Our industry faces some other challenges with Smokefree 2025 looming. At MetroMart, tobacco product sales have never been a focus, more so a consumer choice.

“We continue to adapt and grow categories in-store but the financial impact of losing tobacco sales will affect all convenience and petroleum stores across Aotearoa,” he said.

“Crime is also at the forefront of mind for our industry, and we hope that this recent spike in ram raids and robberies across NZ can be bought under control by more social supports for youth and, dare I say it, harsher penalties when required.”

All in all, Godinet said 2022 was a good year for MetroMart, ending on a high with the first North Island store opening in late December at Lower Hutt in the Wellington region.

“MetroMart in 2023 has further expansion plans, and we are excited,” said Godinet.

The newly converted Lower Hutt store has been a success so far, and MetroMart is in discussions with other existing retailers in the Wellington region to continue its Northward expansion in the coming year.

This article originally appeared in the C&I NZ section of the February edition of FMCG Business.

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