Beginning to believe again: Super Retail prove a point to doubters

There are now very compelling signs that things are moving along well in retail. The changes the industry has seen: the restructuring, new suppliers, investment in omni-channel, to name a few, are all beginning to deliver a brighter future for many retailers.

Why do I say that? Because the toughest audience of all, the professional institutions that buy shares for their clients, as well as our superannuation funds, are beginning to believe again.

Last week was a busy week in the ASX public company reporting calendar, and a shining light was Super Retail. Just so we’re clear as to whom Super Retail is, the company owns and operates almost 600 stores across ANZ and Asia. They have owned and operated the Super Cheap Auto, BCF, FCO and Rays Outdoors chains, growing by acquisition, over the past 20 years or more.

Last year, to much derision from the investment community, Super Retail bought the “broken” Rebel Sports chain; a sporting goods retailer that was apparently being “killed by international online shopping”. We’ve all heard the great anecdotes about shoppers walking into Rebel Sport stores to try on and be fitted for running shoes, then leaving and buying online.

Why? Because the price differential between the Australian store and the US online retailers was high, and perhaps service wasn’t as good as it had been. I’m not sure if service was an issue for Rebel Sport, but it’s a distinct possibility when a store is in financial pain, as staffing levels are cut to match declining sales.

Cut forward a year and Super Retail’s latest acquisition has performed very well. The company’s share price has grown over 50% in 12 months. Super Retail is now a company that has over 11,000 people retailing $A1.9 billion worth of items we use in our passionate ‘third sector of life’, also known as ‘me time’. First: family; second: work; third: ME!

Assuming you spend the ‘me’ time of your life passionately involved with cars, bikes, fishing, boating, camping, running, swimming or cycling, you’ll be familiar with Super Retail’s stores. Some male readers with young families may also think that because of the camping stores within its portfolio, Super Retail also assists in the “family” sector of life. Wives and girlfriends know differently.

So, how has Super Retail achieved its success? I met with some of Super Retail’s senior execs in Brisbane last week, spent time in some of their key stores and walked their offices. And the passion, longevity and clarity of thought and action of all the people I met is a clear indication of why they are successful. They like what they do, continuously challenge themselves to be innovative, and still think and act like a challenger brand. They haven’t lost their humility.

If you haven’t been into a Rebel Sports store for a while, drop in. Under new management, things have changed.

As CROSSMARK CEO, Kevin Moore looks at the world of retailing from grocery to pharmacy, bottle shops to car dealers, corner store to department stores. In this insightful blog, Kevin covers retail news, ideas, companies and emerging opportunities in Australia and across the world. His international career in sales and marketing has seen him responsible for businesses in over 40 countries, which has earned him grey hair and a wealth of expertise in international retailers and brands.

CROSSMARK Asia Pacific is Australasia’s largest provider of retail marketing services, consulting to and servicing some of Australasia’s biggest retailers and manufacturers.

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