For the latest edition of C&I NZ, Mike Arlidge, Group Manager, On The Spot, describes how tourism has brought normality back to South Island convenience.
Battling economic pressures common to the industry, 2022 thankfully saw trade pick up again for On the Spot as tourists returned to South Island beauty spots.
Mike Arlidge, Group Manager, On The Spot, said it was pleasing to see a return to normal trading in places like Te Anau, Haast, Queenstown and Fox Glacier especially.
“Store owner operators have weathered some tough trading over the last two years in the pandemic- infected market and it’s been fantastic to see some tourists return to visit the beautiful South Island,” he said.
Loved by locals, On The Spot is committed to evolving with the market as the South Island’s largest independent convenience banner.
“One of the key highlights for the group is welcoming a new member, On the Spot Green Island, to the amazing group of stores we currently have.
“This store complements our group and to have another community- focused store within our portfolio is awesome,” said Arlidge.
As the group grows, Arlidge said the key priority of On The Spot in 2023 will be managing the inflationary trading environment and increasing fuel prices while maintaining a local focus and quality offering.
“We’re focusing all our efforts on customers’ needs as the forefront of our decisions. Our priority is to provide offerings relative to the customers’ needs while meeting the ever-increasing demand for value.
“Value does not mean just price, it means great customer service, clean and friendly retail environments that our customers feel welcome and safe in while shopping,” he said.
While price is a key customer driver, Arlidge said simplicity and speed are also essential. It is about making it as easy as possible for customers to find the products they need quickly.
“The changing landscape of pricing in the market has brought the pricing offer between convenience and grocery closer.
“Consumers now know that they can do top-up shops at their local convenience stores and find a good range of lines at a fair price,” he said.
Arlidge predicts staffing will continue to be a challenge into 2023 and feels it’s essential to connect with prospective employees in new and interesting ways.
“As operators, we need to explore effective ways of connecting with prospects by being relevant in the market and providing a safe place to work with meaningful career opportunities,” he said.
With 76 convenience stores across the South Island, some standalone and others attached to petrol stations, On The Spot is a key part of New Zealand’s retail environment.
“As convenience retailers, we need to ensure that we are offering all our customers value that will bring them back to our stores,” said Arlidge. “Which all starts from great customer service.”
As well as providing customers with consistently clean and well- merchandised stores, Arlidge said: “Customers’ shopping habits are evolving, and as retailers, we’re adapting our offers and service to meet the ever-increasing demand for value and convenience.”
Having successfully weathered the pandemic and its effects, Arlidge said: “Our owner-operators live and serve within their local communities and have done an incredible job managing the ever-changing landscape of convenience retailing.”
With the worst behind them and normality slowly returning, 2023 is looking positive for On The Spot as owner-operators continue to serve their local communities to the best of their ability.
This article originally appeared in the C&I NZ section of the February edition of FMCG Business.