Coles’ Sarah Hughes takes out Joe Berry Award

Sarah Hughes from Coles has won the prestigious Joe Berry Australian Retail Industry Executive Award 2015, with Adam Mourad from Woolworths taking out the ECRA Scholarship Award at a ceremony at Doltone House Hyde Park in Sydney on June 11.

The Joe Berry Award celebrates future retail industry leaders and presents the winning entrant with the opportunity of a lifetime. It is open to those aged under 35, with entrants asked to submit a 2,500-word essay to prove how industry savvy they are. The finalists also deliver a presentation to key industry leaders.

Speaking at the Joe Berry Award dinner, convener Keith Quigg said this year more than 350 registrations were received, with 42 essays submitted covering six topics.

“It’s the 10th anniversary of the Joe Berry Award as far as the ASMCA is concerned,” he said. “It has been an absolutely marvellous run and, for all of those involved, it is the highlight of the year.

“Since 2006 we have put 66 young executives before the judges; in most cases those finalists have gone on to receive some form of promotion within their organisations fairly quickly. I think that’s part of the explanation as to why this award is such a wonderful event. The exposure is what it is all about.”

The finalists Adam Mourad from Woolworths wrote and spoke about ‘Price Optimisation’, demonstrating how dynamic pricing can be used as a mechanism to combat price deflation in Australia. He discussed dynamic pricing, how it works, its differences compared with traditional price setting strategies and why alternative strategies need to be considered. Mr Mourad said he is very passionate about the topic.

“I believe [dynamic pricing] is the way forward for pricing in Australia and, potentially, around the world,” he said.

On the topic ‘The Emergence of Convenience’, Sarah Phillips from Nestlé covered the shift driven by two key demographic groups, millennials and baby boomers, as their retail needs and preferences change. In her essay, Ms Phillips concluded that the convenience channel will continue to grow, with shoppers leading the change.

“The baby boomers and millennials display more similarity in their shopping behaviours and preferences than first meets the eye,” her essay stated.

“Convenience stores will become increasingly pertinent in the coming years as we see a shift in shopping behaviours and household size: trends recently visible overseas. Retail accessibility and local infrastructure will be fundamental for consumers. Unlocking and maximising growth will require support from both retailers and manufacturers for these changing demographic needs.”

Selecting the topic ‘The Emergence of Convenience’, Alex Goh from Woolworths suggested retailers should “make your local stores become part of your customers’ everyday life”, but argued that the physical retail stores will become increasingly irrelevant in the world of convenience.

“However, the solution is not to blindly roll out as many convenience stores as possible,” he stated. “To effectively deal with convenience, retailers need to first understand their customers’ needs and understand that their customers’ definition of convenience has changed. By providing

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By providing customers with the convenience that they are demanding for today, which is an effortless shopping experience that is seamlessly integrated across all channels, we can then start making the physical retail stores become more relevant again.” On the topic ‘Staff Incentives to Build Service’, Giulia Joliffe from Woolworths said increased competition in Australian retail has seen a renewed focus on customer service as retailers seek to better differentiate themselves.

“There are a number of considerations for retailers when implementing a staff incentive program, and I think the most important one is to ensure that incentives form part of a broader strategy in which a customer-centric focus is implemented throughout the entire business,” she said. Sarah Hughes from Coles focused her essay and presentation on the rise of discount retailers and specialty stores in Australia and how mainstream fashion and grocery retailers should respond to this changing competitive landscape. She discussed the impact of discounters and specialty stores in the UK and French markets.

“I concluded that the three key actions traditional retailers should take to retain and win customers, and therefore market share, were to be proactive and get the basics right, execute a strong value strategy, ensuring it is widely known and accepted, and differentiate through creating a great customer shopping experience,” Ms Hughes said. Also on the topic of the growth of discount and specialty retailing, Marian Girgis from Myer designed a customer centric retail model addressing the changes  required in the building blocks of the current retail structure. She offered the solution of adopting a positive business culture and leveraging big data insights, which in turn would allow retailers to better position themselves.

“I also recommended that retailers prepare for innovation by recruiting specialised resources to recognise the macro and socioeconomic trends impacting consumers and adapt the business model accordingly,” Ms Girgis said.

Awards

Woolworths Category Manager Adam Mourad won the ECRA Scholarship Award and will have the opportunity to attend an executive program at the Institute of Food and Grocery Management.

Commenting on the experience, Mr Mourad said the Joe Berry Award was an amazing opportunity.

“I was able to take an opinion and idea about a topic, research it and present it in a forum that I wouldn’t normally have access to,” he said. “This is wonderful for personal growth as it challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and really challenge myself. I would highly recommend it to anyone who qualifies to enter themselves into the award and experience the process.

Standing on stage and receiving the institute award was a very proud moment in my career and is something I will always carry with me.” Ms Hughes took out the Joe Berry Award.

“In many ways, Joe Berry is about letting young retailers voice their ideas, but it’s also about the opportunity we have as suppliers and as retailers to shape the industry through great collaboration,” she said in her acceptance speech. “Let’s make this industry world class for our customers. Thank you all very much.”

Reflecting on the awards, Ms Hughes said the program offers participants and finalists the opportunity to engage with stakeholders within their organisations, but also externally.

“For me, like retail leader Joe Berry himself, the award is as much about encouraging industry innovation as it is about fostering the careers of young people,” she said.

“For my career, the Joe Berry Australian Retail Industry Executive Award is a fantastic step and one which I am really excited and honoured to have received. I met a number of fantastic people throughout the essay drafting and finals process, including Coles team members, other finalists, judges and sponsors. My industry networks have expanded greatly as a result.”

Ms Hughes receives an escorted tour of major world retail markets, including Paris, London, New York, Milan and Hong Kong, or the option of supported tertiary education. In addition, she will receive a guest speaker role at the annual ECRA Conference and the 2016 Joe Berry Award ceremony.

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1. Past winners Simon Padovani-Ginies and Graham Fairbairn. 2. The finalists with Keith Quigg. 3. Joe Berry Awards Convenor – Keith Quigg. 4. Bernie Brookes – Patron. 5. Heather Bone
– OTRecycle. 6. Jamie Lobina – Superior Sales Force. 7. Matt Foster – Mars Petcare. 8. James Lane – CCA. 9. Alex Goh – Woolworths. 10. Marian Girgis – Myer. 11. Sarah Phillips – Nestlé.
12. Adam Mourad – Woolworths. 13. Giulia Joliffe – Woolworths. 14. Adam Mourad accepting his ECRA scholarship award. 15. Joe Berry Award winner – Sarah Hughes.

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