The Independent Brands Australia (IBA) 2023 Trade Workshop is being held in Cairns this week, with an underlying theme of building a ‘network of the future’.

Metcash Group CEO Doug Jones welcomed the group of more than 570 IBA retailer members and supplier partners on day one of business sessions and spoke about Australia’s thriving independent retail sector.

“As a South African, I get to bring an outsider’s perspective, and I’m not sure that everybody appreciates just how wonderful the independent retail sector in Australia is. I think it’s a national treasure, and I don’t say that lightly. I think that it should be protected and afforded the respect and admiration that it deserves.

“Independent retailers in this country are as good as anywhere around the world. I have been fortunate enough to travel around the world and see lots of different retail formats and I can tell you that you guys stack up and, in many cases, surpass the rest of the world.”

Jones (pictured below) then went on to speak about IBA’s purpose of championing successful independents and highlighted some of the strengths of the IBA network.

He said: “Our purpose is championing successful independents, and that’s also our strategy. There really are four key areas where you can make a difference as an independent retailer. You can win on range, you can win on service, you can win through price, and you can win through convenience. You can’t win on all four, but you can make some strong choices about where you’re able to win.

“Just in the IBA network we have 1300 stores, that’s more than any of our competitors. We’re local, so we can have ranges that are tailored for that local community, and we can have a service offering that is for locals, by locals. So, I do think that we have some incredibly strong assets, and we should have a reason to believe that we have a firm and sustainable route to win.”

Next up, CEO Chris Baddock addressed delegates, highlighting that the independent retail trade is “here to stay”.

He said: “Our theme of ‘Network of the Future’ is about striving to do everything in our power to make sure that we bring that future closer and that we bring the consumer through your doors. That we support our suppliers and partner brands, and that we do that together. We’re in the future today.”

Baddock referenced a South African proverb: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’

He said: “We truly believe that partnership will take us much further. It’ll take us together, we’ll do it together, and when you’re doing it with somebody else – that is you the retailer, us Metcash, and of course the suppliers, all focused on the consumer – I truly believe that we can do it better.”

He then went on to also reference ALM and IBA’s core purpose of championing successful independents and spoke to why the word ‘successful’ is such an integral part of that purpose.

“Successful is about this group of people – you’re the true believers and you’re here because you believe in us going together and going far. Successful in my view is those who truly believe in striving to be the best that they can be, and you’ll see throughout these two days, that we want to take those who want to be successful, those who want to be fit, those who want to achieve bigger and better things, and how we’re going to do it.

“We need to ensure that this network is full of individuals who want to be the absolute best that they can be.”

The Shout will bring further updates from the business sessions later in the week, including insights from keynote speaker, Anastasia Lloyd-Wallis, COO and Head of Insights at Retail Doctor Group, and Rod Pritchard, General Manager, Strategy & Transformation at ALM’s session on building the Network of the Future.

Deborah Jackson

Deb joined Intermedia in 2015 as Editor of National Liquor News and Deputy Editor of The Shout. Since then, she has also worked as the Editor of Beer & Brewer and the New Zealand title, World of Wine....

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