Smart50 Awards 2014

14 Retail Savvy Group

Revenue

$10.9 million

Growth

120.08%

Founders

Stewart Koziora, 45, and Anna Carosa, 37

Head Office

Victoria

Year Founded

2007

Employees

110

Industry

Retail trade

Website

www.retailsavvygroup.com.au

Anna Carosa and Stewart Koziora were successful entrepreneurs in their own right before they met, married and launched their own business in 2007.

Carosa founded, and later took public, internet company Destra Corporation with her brother Domenic, while Koziora brought the Wagamama restaurant chain to Australia and has served as chief executive of other successful food businesses, including Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloons.

The pair’s company, Retail Savvy Group, operates three themed restaurant/bars in Melbourne—Asian Beer Café and Father’s Office in the Melbourne CBD and The Shaw Davey Slum in Carlton—as well as an online diamond store, Mia Bella Diamonds, and a digital printing company, Printergy Signs and Displays.

Retail Savvy Group has grown by 120% in its seven years and in the 2013-14 financial year the group turned over close to $11 million.

The group’s restaurants each have a distinct theme, but the focus is consistent: providing value for money for their customers.

But it’s not an easy feat, says Koziora, who told SmartCompany rising prices as a result of government taxes is the number one challenge facing businesses like his.

“Prices keep rising and we have to wear them,” he says.

Koziora has an enterprise agreement that covers his staff, which he has increased to a level that covers rises in penalty rates, but excise rises are difficult to cover for a business that prides itself on offering affordable prices.

“We can’t increase our prices,” he says. “We’ve been wearing these cost rises for seven years. It means we have to do things a little smarter.”

“I used to work for McDonald’s years ago and my mantra has always been about more volume, making less off more people.”

It appears the strategy is paying off, with the pair’s newest venture, The Shaw Davey Slum, pulling in the punters since its opening in May and Koziora hoping to be in a position to pay off all of the company’s debts in the next 12 months.

While both Koziora and Carosa say they would consider a fourth venue if the right opportunity came along, they say the next year will be about continuing to grow their existing venues and focusing on another important aspect of what they do: giving back to the community.

Retail Savvy Group has donated its time and resources to the likes of The Leukaemia Foundation, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Victoria Deaf Association, the Cancer Council and the Melbourne City Mission. As well as handing over donations, the group will also run community service campaigns, promoting the charities to the 15,000 patrons that frequent their three venues each week.

“Part of our philosophy is to give back,” Carosa told SmartCompany.

“I think it is important for any business that has had some success to give back.”

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