NZACS Executive Director Dave Hooker provides an update on what the association has planned for the year ahead.

C&I: Why is it so important for the convenience channel to be supported by an association like NZACS?

DH: Our key point of difference is that we are the only association that truly represents convenience in New Zealand. It’s a really important distinction as there are plenty of supplier-type associations but we are the only one representing convenience retail.

It is vital to have an organised channel representing the likes of Z Energy, BP, Caltex, Mobil Challenge, No 8 Retail Group, Gull etc. And they are always our focus. Through being fully focused around the organised convenience channel, what that does is drive the interest of our supplier membership. So, if we didn’t have the strong representation of retail, we wouldn’t get strong representation of key suppliers.

C&I: What events do you have coming up and what benefit do they bring to your members?

DH: Our annual fundraising golf day, which was held on 18 March, is essentially our kick-off for the year. It’s a social get together and a time for everybody to reconnect after the end of the last year. It’s our way to bring the industry together and get everyone talking about the association again. We had a great day with lots of people attending at Takapuna Golf Club in Auckland, including team members from Bluebird, Fonterra, TipTop, Gull, Nielsen, Remedy, and Frucor.

Our next event is an industry breakfast where we will recap the year gone by and look ahead. It’s going to be pretty interesting this year, given what last year looked like. Hopefully, we will be able to come together in person this year as we had to host it virtually last year. Following that we get into the usual range of events later in the year with our awards, the Peter Jowett Scholarship and this year there is the C&I Expo where we will also run a Leaders Summit.

C&I: How important is the Peter Jowett scholarship to the industry?

DH: For the people who participate in the Peter Jowett Scholarship, it can be quite revolutionary, personally, and professionally. Especially if they win. The people who enter already tend to be quite high performing, but with the exposure they get from the scholarship program it gives them a tremendous profile within their companies. Especially with companies like BAT because they actually run an intercompany competition to select the top two candidates to put forward to compete for the Peter Jowett, so it is a very big deal for them.

C&I: It really is such a great opportunity to give young people a platform and a voice:

DH: Absolutely and win or lose they just grow so much from the experience. It can be daunting for a lot of them, but it really raises their profile within their respective. It’s a big deal.

C&I: What were some of the greatest successes for NZACS in 2020?

DH: As an association we really came to the fore last year, because we were involved twice weekly with government working groups around retail, looking at what could be delivered and how it could be delivered safely. Also looking at what was required from government and what was required from us as a retail group. I was spending four hours a week on those and at the same time, government didn’t stop. There were still Bills going through and changes to regulations around vaping, so we still had government submissions we needed to make. We were very busy, particularly during that heavy lockdown time but that set up for when we went into the other levels as everybody already knew what they had to do. But it really was a lot of work during that March/April period.

C&I: What is your outlook for 2021?

DH: As Peter Morton said when you spoke to him last month, our outlook is quite strong from a retail perspective. We have done a lot better than we had expected, certainly in the retail side of business. Fuel is up and down, depending on the restrictions in place and is not as strong overall year on year. But these are the sorts of things that we can dig into at our industry breakfast. That’s a forum where we can discuss what has performed well and what has come out of the box, what’s new, and what we have started selling that we didn’t sell 12 months ago. There’s definitely been some mix change over the last 12 months.

There haven’t been radical changes, but we’ve certainly benefitted from a shift in consumer behaviour. And especially in the regions where people we have a choice of probably two or three, or three or four general grocery type outlets, convenience can look quite attractive.

C&I: Do you have a key message that you’d like to convey to your members?

DH: It’s really just to get involved. And that’s at all levels from the committee level to the event level and at the government level, it’s just to get involved.

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