AUR’s National Retailer Conference for 2023 was held between the 13th – 17th November in Melbourne at Crown Melbourne and the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre. This event brought together more than 900 FoodWorks owners and independently branded retailers, as well as key supplier partners across our network.
Our conference was themed “Mission Possible”, and all speakers presented on upcoming opportunities to grow store sales and profitability. The event was hosted by Tim Reid, an engaging and entertaining master of ceremonies, who has attended hundreds of conferences across 12 different countries.
Day one marked the beginning of the conference, and was opened with our CEO, Rick Wight, providing a network and industry update, as well as an overview of the key strategic plans for 2024. Rick also reflected on some key consumer insight and the need to continually improve the value offer for our customers.
Our Executive General Manager of Merchandise, Midhat Massoud, then provided an overview of the current market challenges and need for customer value. He discussed many value-based pricing strategies the business has put in place including the Price Promise program, which enables our independent retailers to compete in a highly price-sensitive market without eroding margins.
In the evening, retailers and suppliers were treated to a welcome celebration with breathtaking views of the Yarra River and city skyline at the Metropolis Bar.
Day two of conference opened with Craig Woolford, the Senior Research Analyst and founder of ‘Retail Mosaic’, who presented consumer insights and opportunities for the grocery sectors. This was followed by Robert Markezic, National Operations Manager showcasing the key achievements for 2023, and sharing his key focus areas for 2024 including the structural changes made in the business to support our strategies. Robert Markezic also discussed the growth of snacking and value trends in the market, and how retailers can incorporate this into their business strategy and development.
A number of AUR retailers and members of the operations team then reviewed some of the fantastic innovations they have implemented to improve their store offer. Notable speakers included David Rofaeil (FoodWorks MSO), Andrew Marshall (Reddrop Group) and Jeff Telley (AUR Retail Development Partner). Richard Rabay (FoodWorks multi-store owner) alongside Frank Molloy (NSW State Operations Manager) also covered the benefits of a sustainable food to go offer in stores.
Our very own fresh specialist and National Category Manager, Brett McMillan, took attendees through some winning in-store-strategies for proactively managing fresh sales and displays in store. Following this, Renee Werner (Head of Marketing) presented on the power of social media marketing in reaching both new and existing audiences. The team at OZESL (Gavin Snowsill) also demonstrated in-store electronic shelf labelling, alongside Wayne Mason (QLD State Operations Manager) and Pat Vines (FoodWorks Normanton).
The business sessions concluded with Lane Beachley AO, Surfing superstar and 7 World Title holder sharing her remarkable story with us, including her path to success that was peppered with challenges. She spoke to how embracing setbacks was necessary to transform and be open to opportunities for growth. Lane’s warm and frank delivery took us all on a self-growth discovery unlocking the potential of a positive mindset and a “can do” attitude.
The AUR Gala Awards night marked the beginning of celebration among retailers, and was held at Centrepiece at Melbourne Park. We showcased and celebrated all of the amazing retailers’ hard work, achievements, and commitment to excellence with 31 winners in total.
Day three was the saw our biggest ever Tradeshow, with 170 suppliers is showcasing their products to AUR members, retailers and staff. The tradeshow highlighted the latest products and innovations in the food retail market with a fresh showcase showing of the refrigeration and the latest shelf display options.
Finally, the event closed with a fun night out at Melbourne Museum.
The AUR Conference has been a huge success, and it was fantastic to see all our retailers and supplier partners working together to ensure independents’ business thrives into the future.