By NZHJ December 16, 2019 Hard Talking - Industry interviews

Happy with 2019? What would you change if you could? We asked the captains of our industry, retail gurus and Hardware Awards winners about their resolutions for the New Year…

To view a PDF of the complete feature as it appeared in NZ Hardware Journal magazine, click the download button at the bottom of this page.

A couple of years ago NZ Hardware Journal ran a “Dear Santa” article for our end of year piece, which was widely read and commented upon.

Using the format of a “Dear Santa” letter, the idea was to capture the outlook of many of the key players in the hardware channel as a series of snapshots, without being too bombastic or caustic – to have a bit of fun without being just plain silly.

This year, we’ve asked a range of industry players for their New Year’s resolution(s), for the businesses that they run and/or the industry that they’re part of.

What would they do differently – or do more of – if they could?

Read on…


My New Year’s resolutions for myself and the team at Mitre 10 MEGA Dunedin is to challenge each other to think outside of the box more than ever before!

We have had an amazing 2019 and I believe we can do even greater things as one team going forward, pushing each other to do things we are sometimes scared to try.

This is where amazing things can happen, and taking a risk is what makes us who we are!

The one thing I wish for us to continue in 2020 is living our “customer-obsessed” vision and to keep finding ways to make shopping with us as frictionless as possible.

The team consistently impress me with how they go out of their way to give customers more than they were asking for, delivering a world-class customer service.

We love it when customers leave our store with a real delight about the experience they received.

Hayden Autridge, Group Inventory & Merchandising Manager, Mitre 10 MEGA Dunedin (and 2019 Young Retailer of the Year)


For my 2020 New Year’s resolutions, I promise that:

  • I won’t grimace when I hear conversations about the Government trying to kill our very successful and important ITOs. They are awesome organisations, and are doing great work. Leave them alone!
  • I will continue to be very excited about the retail industry and universities partnering with one another to develop educational programmes to help upskill the workforce and drive the industry forward. I’ve got to remember that I’m biased – but Massey University, as you know, is the industry’s preferred partner here…
  • I will not get furious when I hear people say that retail is a dead-end career. It’s not. End of.
  • I will eat healthier and will go to the gym more than once this year (despite paying 20 odd bucks a week for the privilege).

Prof Jonathan Elms, Sir Stephen Tindall Chair Professor in Retail Management, Massey University


Next year, I’m looking forward to bringing an even stronger offer and innovative products to our customers and ensuring they are receiving the best service when they shop with us.

I also want to continue to keep our team, customers and suppliers safe and happy throughout the year.

Oh, and some more consistent sunshine for us all would be awesome.

Toby Lawrance, General Manager NZ, Bunnings


My personal New Year’s resolution will be to stop moaning about the cost of living in this country and celebrate the fact that I live in paradise.

The same could also apply to our industry – to a lot of people in it, the Government bodies and politicians that consistently try to make a case about excessive costs in the building industry.

There are a lot of people in business in our industry who all want to live in paradise and need to make a buck to do so.

We don’t have the scale of population and volume we would like but we also don’t want too many more people as we struggle to cater for it.

So things cost more than in many other places.

So suck it up and stop condemning businesses for making profits!

In the BuildLink group, we are very motivated and that’s why we still survive and thrive in a very competitive market.

We are currently moving into a centralised billing platform that will provide additional benefits to our members and suppliers and ultimately more growth for the co-op.

We all want to live in paradise and we are here to stay!

Kevin Marevich, Executive Director, BuildLink


What would I do differently if I could?

  • Be more efficient; remove blocks that get in the way.
  • Train and empower the next generation of salespeople in our business to take on PlaceMakers’ “Blue Blooded” philosophy.

What would I do more of, if I could?

  • I would like to spend more time with customers, both at a business and a personal level.
  • Look to the future – who are our future customers and what do they want from us as a partner?
  • Continue to be the key partner to our key customers – their continued success ensures our success.

Paul Merritt, Account Manager, PlaceMakers Cranford Street (and 2019 Trade Account Manager of the Year)


My 2020 resolution is for New Zealand retailers to be braver and move forward to evolve their businesses.

It means accepting that the world, our customers and our competitive environment are moving at a rate of knots and recognising that, if you are standing still, you are going backwards.

  • Accept that physical retail and digital retail will continue to co-exist together – so get on with it and find a balance to invest in both.
  • Knowing who your customer is really, really matters. Stop pretending that you know and truly understand them.
  • Invest in your most important customer experience play – your people. Empower them, develop them and support them and they will deliver!
  • Smarten up that store and stop making them all cookie-cutter. Localise, provide experience and create WOW. Make it worth my while to visit you.
  • Stop doing dumb s**it like having a whole “Black Friday” month and “Boxing Day Sale” in mid-December.
  • Stop abusing/ignoring precious customer data. You have these rich insights for a reason – to offer me a better experience and offer – so stop sending me crap and ignoring who I am as an individual.

PS – Ensure that RetailX becomes the number one destination for retailers large and small who need our expertise to reinvent their thinking and develop their new retail strategy and experience.

PPS – Stop eating crap and exercise more.

PPPS – Seriously, no more Krispy Kreme doughnuts and fast food. You are going to die if you keep them as a main food group.

Juanita Neville-Te Rito, founder of specialist retail consultancy RetailX


Every year comes and goes and with that come New Year resolutions. I have a standard format for coming up with my personal New Year resolutions which consists of focusing on a better work-life balance, keeping healthy and saving for that mid-winter family holiday.

My wife always adds a few extras…..

  • Go the gym, don’t just join it.
  • Reduce my beer intake.
  • Stop snoring (I still don’t think I do).

As fun as “stopping snoring” sounds, my New Year’s resolutions for the business puts our customers at the heart of what we do and why we do it.

Coming back after some well-deserved time off, our customers will reset for 2020 and we need to do the same, making sure we keep momentum up on the things that are working and focus on any areas of the business that may need attention.

I’m also looking forward to the opportunity to improve our efforts supporting and bringing awareness to mental health as it’s having a devastating impact on our industry.

Good luck for the year, stay safe and I hope everyone else’s New Year’s resolutions are achieved!

Des Smith, Branch Operator, PlaceMakers Evans Bay (and 2019 Retailer of the Year)


The past few months at Mitre 10 have been really enjoyable and I have high hopes for 2020!

We’re coming into the New Year with an impressive number of projects in the pipeline that will see us deliver even better experiences to our customers, team members and community.

A new year is always a good time to reflect on what’s important, and in 2020 I hope to…

  • Spend less time in meetings and more time with the team on the shop floor. That’s my favourite place.
  • Dedicate plenty of time catching up with my new family to ensure everyone knows how important they are to the business.
  • Continue exploring the exciting and numerous opportunities for retail in the digital space.
  • Keep wellbeing front and centre; not only for our team members, but also for our customers and especially our mates in building and construction.
  • Embody Marie Kondo. We’ve got a few processes around here that aren’t bringing joy, so it’s time for a good tidy up to simplify things.
  • Get around to finding a solution to ease the congestion in our drive-throughs… maybe Auckland Transport will have some tips?

In all seriousness, Happy New Year everyone! On behalf of the whole Mitre 10 Team, we want to wish all our trade partners and the wider industry all the best for the coming year.

Chris Wilesmith, CEO, Mitre 10 NZ

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