Tracey Fookes was delighted to be appointed to the management committee of the New Zealand Association of Convenience Stores.
C&I: Tracey, tell us a little bit about yourself:
Fookes: I have been in the industry for a long time, initially in marketing with a lot of multinationals and then I came to Tip Top Ice Cream 14 years ago. I started in the marketing department for about five years, then went into sales activation, from both a grocery and an out of home route perspective, initially on ice cream and then focused on the route with Fonterra with milk, cheese, and ice cream.
About six years ago, I went into key account management, looking after petrol and convenience (P&C), for both Fonterra and Tip Top Ice Cream, but only managing half the banners. Then, when Tip Top Ice Cream was purchased by Froneri a few years ago, I decided to come across and look after just ice cream. In that manner, I became the Senior Key Account Manager across P&C and I look after all of the banners.
I absolutely love my job, and the reason for that is because of the relationships. What I love about route and convenience is that my customers want to work as a partnership and there is a lot of respect on either side of opinions. The relationship feels a little bit more personal to me, and ice cream is a wonderful category because everybody loves it. You’ve got lovely things to taste and there’s always NPD, so for me, I’m really passionate about that and about doing what’s right for the category.
C&I: What are the biggest challenges facing the P&C channel?
Fookes: The changing offer that’s being demanded by shoppers, particularly during the global pandemic. It was already becoming quite hard to define what convenience was, even two to three years ago, because your grocery store was starting to become the top up shop and people would drop in daily. But throughout the pandemic people started putting different demands on the convenience channel and what they wanted their local offer to be. So, no longer is it just about little packets of chips and lollies and things like that, but people are now visiting for their top up shop and in some cases are calling in daily for some of their main items as a shopper.
I think it was a real trust thing, because the local convenience store is small, the retailer knows their customers by name, they’re controlling numbers of who is going in and out, and on top of that they have a very organised offer so shoppers can get in and out very quickly. I think that is the challenge for convenience now – to really match the offer to the new demands of the shopper, because they see us as a different role in their day to day lives now.
C&I: What do you hope to achieve as part of the NZACS Management Committee?
Fookes: I am really proud to be a part of the supplier and retailer representative team, whose purpose is to work together to provide information, events and other important interactions and initiatives, to get communication and other people within the community interested in working together and giving them a neutral ground in which they get information and interact. We host golfing days and the Peter Jowett scholarship, and it reminds people that we are all here for one purpose; that we all love convenience.
In terms of information, NZACS is a source of one truth, where smaller retailers as well as the bigger players, can turn to for information and support. I am very excited to be able to help provide that support, not just on behalf of Tip Top Ice Cream, which is one of the biggest suppliers, but on behalf of all suppliers.
C&I: Why is NZACS so important to the industry?
Fookes: When you consider that NZACS is a non-profit, you realise that they don’t get anything out of providing information and resources, and so you can trust that they are a solid representative of the channel and industry. NZACS provides one truth and information, which some might find otherwise quite difficult to source. The internet is a beautiful thing, but sometimes it can also be very confusing because you get information from different resources and you’re just not quite sure which is the most accurate, but you know that the NZACS Committee provides you with that. And obviously NZACS is not just a New Zealand thing, it is international, so we’re part of something much bigger, which gives us insight and access to other things, for example C&I. So, I think it represents the suppliers and manufacturers really well. It’s a great, reliable representative body.