After another year of strong sales growth, Officeworks are set for a big 2020, with the continued rollout of its refreshed strategy. Here, acting Managing Director Michael Howard talks about the retailer’s expectations for the year ahead.
How would you describe the past year at Officeworks?
It’s been a rewarding year of helping make bigger things happen for our team, our customers and in our communities.
It’s been a year of positive progress for us in our 25th year of business. We grew our business by acquiring Geeks2U and helped our team members wanting to grow their families by launching our new paid parental leave policy ‘Growing Families’.
We opened the biggest office supplies store in the world at Mentone, Victoria. We also implemented a new enterprise agreement for 7,000 of our store team members to ensure certainty around their pay and conditions.
Our every channel strategy continues to resonate well with customers, as we continue to deliver strong sales growth in both stores and online.
What have been the highlights over the past year?
We’ve had our safest start to the financial year. The safety of our team is always our absolute priority, as well as the safety of our customers.
We’ve build great momentum in this space and I’m proud of the real care and focus our team have given to ensuring our team go home safely.
We’ve built great momentum in this space and I’m proud of the real care and focus our team have given to ensuring our team go home safely.
There is always more for us to do and we are absolutely committed to continued improvement.
We set new fundraising records through our Back to School Appeal in January, Round Up to Make a Difference and Wall of Hands initiatives in 2019, raising over $2.1m.
With the help of our customers, we donated over $1.5m to our national partners The Smith Family and Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF).
With our planting partner Greening Australia, we have now planted more than 570,000 trees on behalf of our customers to help restore woodland and wetland ecosystems, improve habitats of threatened species and rejuvenate existing bushland.
What have been the challenges?
Consumers have been cautious and competitive pressure has been strong, but Officeworks remains well placed to drive growth in this environment.
Our job is to continue to execute on and invest in both our in-store and online offer to ensure we are able to serve our customers however they want to interact with us.
Have there been any interesting shifts in consumer behaviour in the past year?
Officeworks has a diverse mix of customers; from parents, students and personal shoppers to micro, small and medium businesses.
Our customers come to us because they have a problem to solve, something they would like to create or an opportunity they would like to make happen.
While our customer’s core desire to be provided with a solution remains, technological advancements, economic pressures and generational progression means that their expectations are changing.
Our customers expect to be able to shop whenever and however they want, be it online, in-store, with one of our business account managers, or on their phone.
Customers often bring us problems to solve that are complex;
Increasingly these problems are not solved by individual products, but require knowledgeable advice and coordinated solutions.
The customers tell us they want to shop with a business that is making a positive difference in their local communities and for the environment.
Finally, customers have choice not just about how they shop, but also who they shop with, and therefore we must ensure our offer continues to deliver great value.
What plans do you have for the business over the next 12 months?
We will continue to evolve and rollout our refreshed strategy with a focus on our team, customer experience, connecting with communities, operational excellence and growing our business.
We’re currently developing a health and wellbeing strategy and will have an increased focus on diversity and belonging, as well as training and skills development.
We will enhance our data analytics capability and upgrade our every channel functionality and features.
We will launch our Positive Difference Plan 2025 targets, including a continued focus on reducing our operational impact on the environment and sourcing responsibly, building closer connections with the communities we live and work in and continuing to do more to help educate disadvantaged students
We are focused on modernising our supply chain and improving our inventory planning and stock management. We will also be implementing a new people management system.
We are ambitious in driving growth and will continue to evolve and expand product and service offers including growing the Geeks2U offer for our customers.
We will upgrade our print and copy online platform and also roll out our store renewal program, open new stores and invest in our click-and-collect offer.
How has e-commerce affected officework’s supply chain operations?
Officeworks has a history of innovation and of listening to our customers, being responsive to their needs which has meant we’ve always stayed on top in terms of our range and relevance across every channel.
This relevance encompasses everything – from being one of the first large-scale bricks-and-mortar retailers in Australia to drive an online proposition, or our evolution to creating a true every channel strategy.
We put ourselves where we believe our customers expect us to be, whether that’s online, mobile, in the store, via phone or social media.
As part of our every channel strategy, we are modernising our supply chain network through distribution centre consolidation and the use of technology to ensure that we will have the capacity to meet the future growth, strategic requirements for both store and online fulfilment, with improved service levels and cost outcomes.
Where do you hope to see officeworks this time next year?
Officeworks will continue to drive growth and productivity by executing its refreshed strategy, which will enable us to continue to grow and deliver strong results for shareholders over the long-term.
We see three major areas of future growth: education, business and services. We are already an important part of the education of future generations through our extensive Back to School range.
We can offer parents and schools even more of what they need to educate and grow young minds, including art and craft, online resources and learning aids.
Solving more and bigger problems for our business customers is important to us, which we can do by building on our base, such as evolving our successful print and copy business to become print, copy and create.
We are already working on expanding our services offering, with Geeks2U being a great example of a complementary service to help our customers with a broader range of technology-related needs.
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