The future of IBA

22 October, 2018 by Deborah Jackson

Metcash Group CEO, Jeff Adams, has spoken about his vision for Independent Brands Australia (IBA) and laid out plans for a “better Metcash”.

Speaking at the annual IBA Conference held at the Hyatt Regency in Sydney, Adams told delegates that to effectively compete it is important to figure out where the customer is going, and then get there early.

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“It’s a continuous cycle of improving your customer offer through foresight, through insight, through action,” he said.

Adams highlighted convenience, availability, price and range as the key drivers influencing shopper behaviour in today’s market.

“Customer trends are showing that customers are shopping more frequently, less planned and more local. As a network, I believe IBA is well positioned for this trend, with some great convenient locations, and we’ll need to keep developing a strong local presence,” he said.

“Having what they want when they want it is important so managing our stock replenishment and warehouse deliveries to make sure we’re always in stock is another key factor.”

“Price will always be on a customer’s agenda, so being what I would call the right price for customers is important. And by right price, this takes into account being value for money having the right promotions while also protecting retailers’ margins.

“And finally, range. Getting that balance right between our core ranges and our retailers having the ability to flex their range for local preferences. Having the right products for each store that matches their customers and their local community. I would say this is clearly one of the strengths of the independent model versus the chains.”

Adams also pointed towards lifestyle factors that are influencing shopper behaviour, specifically referencing health and wellbeing, premiumisation and the digital age.

“Health and wellbeing is one of the main drivers of these lifestyle changes leading to customers who are choosing to drink less but wanting more premium products.

“And then there’s the growing impact of the digital world, how customers are using technology and the many changes that result from this — from fast-paced range changes in categories like craft beers, influenced by social media, to emerging trends like the last mile delivery option.

“This is a very high-level view of how customers are changing, and how we’ll need to keep adapting our offer to remain relevant,” he said.

Adams announced that to be able to keep up with the fast rate at which shoppers are evolving, Metcash would be launching a new program called Mfuture.

“Mfuture will be a five-year program working on building a better Metcash to serve all of you: our retailers, our suppliers and your customers. Mfuture will be a balanced program focused both on sales growth initiatives and driving cost efficiencies.

“Customers are changing faster than they ever have in history, and they’re telling us where they’re going. Mfuture will be about how we will keep adapting to those changes, working together with you to follow them, developing the right offers and working to get there early. It will also be focused on improving our systems, our processes and delivering efficiencies to get to the lowest cost to serve.

“So what’s my vision for the future of IBA? It’s about building a better Metcash, focused on where customers are going. A better Metcash to support all of you, our IBA retailers, to be more competitive and to get there early for your customers.”