Hawke's Bay business leaders have set down a challenge to the new Hastings-educated chief executive of Air New Zealand - keep regional flight prices at Walmart-low levels.
Walmart CEO Greg Foran, who spent some of his early years in Hawke's Bay, was announced on Friday as the national carrier's head honcho.
Business Hawke's Bay CEO Carolyn Neville said the region hoped to see him bring the low pricing success he established at Walmart to Air New Zealand's regional flights.
She said it was of huge importance to Hawke's Bay from both a tourism and business connectivity perspective, and would work for Air NZ as it had Walmart.
"This strategy increased both sales and customer loyalty for them," Neville said.
"We'd love to see Greg Foran introduce this kind of approach to pricing for regional air connections for Air New Zealand.
"There's proven significant flow on economic benefits to the regions from well-priced air travel as we've seen over the past three years."
Air New Zealand will soon have a virtual monopoly on regional flights from Hawke's Bay.
Its main competitor Jetstar announced last month it will be stopping regional flights to Napier, Nelson, New Plymouth and Palmerston North as of December 1.
Foran is set to replace Christopher Luxon in early 2020, returning home after spending 25 years overseas.
His parents Glenda and Patrick Foran, who are now based in Tauranga, said they were "happy to have him back in New Zealand".
Foran and his family moved to Hastings when he was four, where he then attended Twyford School, where his father was the principal.
He spent a year at St John's College in Hastings before his family moved to Hamilton.
Foran, now in his late 50s, joined Walmart International in 2011 where he served in a number of capacities, including as President and CEO of Walmart China and then President and CEO of Walmart Asia until he assumed his current role in 2014.
Before joining Walmart, he held a number of positions with Woolworths in Australia and New Zealand.
"We are thrilled to have attracted a world-class Kiwi back home. Greg has an impeccable track record in delivering strong commercial performance, outstanding customer focus and in building teams that can take a business to the next level," Air NZ chairwoman Dame Therese Walsh said.
Foran said he was ''privileged'' to have been given the opportunity to grow an iconic and critical New Zealand company and brand on the global stage.
"I am an incredibly proud Kiwi and to be given the job of nurturing and building on the legacy of an iconic company that represents the best of our nation at home and around the world really excites me,'' he said.
He said Air New Zealand was deservedly recognised as one of the world's great airlines and "I look forward to working alongside its people to take it to the next level".
"Air New Zealanders have an absolute love and passion for the business and their level of customer focus and care is one of the airline's competitive advantages that I look forward to building on."
Foran has had huge success in America, currently based in Arkansas, having grown and led Walmart in a new direction.
He has been responsible for the performance of Walmart's 46,000 stores and oversees one million staff and will stay with the company until January 31.
He was originally brought in to turn around the US business, which was struggling with dwindling sales and negative press.
Walmart's US forth quarter sales in 2019 financial year grew 4.2 per cent, and online sales 43 per cent. The US division posted revenue of US$139 billion ($220b), an increase of US$2.5b. Sales growth within the 2018 and 2019 years were the largest in nine years.
In addition to lifting Walmart sales, Foran has also been integral in combating some of the negative press that has afflicted the company in recent years, such as low staff wages.
One of his biggest recent moves was raising the gun purchasing age at Walmart to 21.
Before joining Walmart, Foran held a number of positions with supermarket operator Woolworths, both in Australia and New Zealand.
Foran holds a diploma in management from The Institute of Management in Auckland, and has attended advanced management programmes at Harvard University and the University of Virginia.
The son of schoolteachers, Foran started his career stacking shelves in a Hamilton supermarket.
He rose through the ranks of Woolworths quickly, becoming a manager at age 20. At 48, he was in line for CEO of the Australian supermarket chain, but missed out on the opportunity and finished up with the company shortly after.
Foran has three sons and one daughter. His middle son, Kieran, is a professional rugby league player who currently plays for the Bulldogs in Australia.
Last year, Foran was reportedly paid US$13.4 million ($21m) as CEO and president of Walmart USA - more than four times what former Air New Zealand Christopher Luxon who resigned in June was paid.
Gregory Stephen Foran
Born: July 22, 1961
Parents: retired schoolteachers Pat and Glenda Foran, Papamoa
Brother, Warwick Foran, Wellington
Lives: Fayetteville, United States.
Primary education: Twyford School Hastings. Secondary: St John's College, Hastings; St John's College, Hamilton; Hillcrest High School, Hamilton.
Children: Natalie, 32, Liam 31, Kieran, 29, (all living in Australia), Ryan 5
Wife: Ondrea Ashley Foran