Leaders Forum: Louise Mitchell, Senior Category Manager, NPD

Leaders Forum: Louise Mitchell, Senior Category Manager, NPD

For the latest edition of C&I NZ, Louise Mitchell, Senior Category Manager, NPD explains how finishing 2022 with a win at the NZACS awards night for Best Regional Retail Group for Store Execution for the third year running, means NPD heads into 2023 with exciting plans for expansion and evolution.

Louise Mitchell, Senior Category Manager, NPD, said being named Best Regional Retail Group for Store Execution by NZACS was a proud moment for the retail team and rounded out a steady year of growth for the convenience retailer.

“2022 has been another busy year for NPD. We opened another two of our Refresh Café sites in Christchurch, Yaldhurst Road in February and Brougham Street in August.

“It has been great to expand our retail footprint in the wider Christchurch area. We also expanded our self-serve network with another seven sites across the country,” she said.

NPD’s Refresh Café sites also got an extended food offering with the rollout of their signature Southern Crunch Chicken completed and the Deliver Easy online platform launched to facilitate home deliveries.

“We have seen some substantial growth in our café sites over the past year, which shows consumer demand for on-the-go food has increased.

“Our offer is fresh and inviting plus there is plenty of choice to wow your tastebuds, which keeps our customers coming back,” said Mitchell.

“The beverage, ice cream and snacking categories have also performed well for us with some very successful new product launches throughout 2022.

“The ‘better for you’ options are driving growth in the snacking category, so we have increased our range of health bars and snacks to accommodate the demand,” she said.

Mitchell says the immediate focus for NPD in 2023 will include scoping out additional locations for potential construction across New Zealand, with several sites on the North Island earmarked for future expansion.

“We now have nine sites on the North Island and we plan to launch our retail offering there at some stage in the future,” she said.

As well as northward development, Mitchell says NPD has a number of projects underway to refurbish existing sites early in 2023 to ensure they maintain their award-winning retail execution.

Reflecting on the year that was, Mitchell said there were challenges with supply chain delays and staffing shortages, but the impact was manageable, and NPD was able to experience growth even during these challenging times.

In 2023 Mitchell expects managing increasing costs while maintaining a premium offer will be a challenge, but one that many businesses will also be experiencing.

“We are always looking for opportunities to keep our food-to-go offer innovative and exciting, and we will continue to drive this category within our stores.

“The impacts of the Smokefree Aotearoa action plan will be one to watch closely with an election looming in 2023,” she adds.

As far as consumer behaviour goes, Mitchell says inflation will force many to look at spending and seek value for money.

“Value perception will become very important to many over the next 12 months as inflation drives changes to consumers’ spending habits and they look to make their money go further.

“Health and wellness will continue to shape a number of trends as consumers take a proactive and holistic approach to their wellbeing,” she said.

“I’ll finish with a quote I read recently that resonated with me and I believe a lot could relate heading into 2023.

“You’ll never get bored when you try something new. There’s really no limit to what you can do.” – Dr. Seuss

Mitchell concludes: “Don’t be afraid to get creative with your offer and have a point of difference to your competitors.”

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

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