Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the NZ Herald

Postie pitches new future to consumers

Postie Plus has renovated its stores and has new products, says managing director Jason Murray.
Postie Plus has renovated its stores and has new products, says managing director Jason Murray.

Postie Plus' more than 100-year history has not all been smooth sailing. From being one of New Zealand's oldest and largest retailers to voluntary administration in 2014, the recent part of the journey has not been easy, but new owners Pepkor are asking customers to give the brand a second chance.

In 2014, Postie Plus was facing pressure from challenges including competition, debt and distribution issues. The company had the worst performing stock on the NZX.

The decision was made to put the company into voluntary administration and just a month later, it was bought by South African business Pepkor.

"We have new teams, new sources, new stores, new product, new prices, new systems," said Pepkor Southeast Asia managing director Jason Murray.

"So the challenge was how to move on everything, but in a way that was manageable and coherent and that's why it's taken almost two years to get to this point and that was just laying the foundation," he said.

"We've been on a turnaround journey and this is the next big step in the life of what we call new Postie."

Founded on the West Coast in 1909 by the Dellaca family, Postie has been a key retailer in New Zealand, growing to 82 stores across the country before being bought by Pepkor, which managed to keep 65 of those and 500 staff.

The company has closed a few of its less profitable stores, moved some and opened one.

Murray said the aim was to get Postie into good locations that worked for the customer and the brand.

The approach the company was taking now, he said, was to create quality but affordable clothing, with access to Pepkor's global buying power and financial resources allowing the company to reduce overall prices by 30 per cent.

Postie chief executive Henry Lee said this also gave the company a good platform from which to branch out.

"In turning this business around, we're giving Kiwi shoppers a much better deal," Lee said.

"Reducing our profit margins allows us to pass that saving on to our customers. It also means we position ourselves to compete strongly in what is increasingly becoming a global marketplace."

Lee said the new pricing model would allow the company to better compete in New Zealand's highly competitive retail market, which was being increasingly pressured by online competition and the arrival of overseas retailers including Zara and H&M which will be in the market before Christmas.

Murray said "a substantial amount" had been invested in the turn-around, adding that stock levels were 50 per cent higher than they had been when Pepkor bought the business.

"This is a really big step in the future history of new Postie," Murray said.

"In a sense we are relaunching the brand to the Kiwi consumer. I suspect consumers all have different perceptions of the old Postie and the new Postie," he said.

"With the combination of great prices and great quality, we want every Kiwi consumer to come in and check us out and see what the product now is, what the stores now look like." Murray said the next stage was up to consumers.

"I'm genuinely excited - I want every Kiwi family to come in to the local Postie store, see what we've done, and really start to enjoy the new Postie."

Postie Plus

• Founded in 1909 by the Dellaca family.

• Put into voluntary administration in June 2014.

• Bought by South African company Pepkor in July 2014.

• Invested heavily in turning the business around.

• Has more than 500 staff around the country.

- NZ Herald

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