Christchurch stores dominated the retail section. Mitre 10’s Beckenham branch scooped the Retail Store of the Year up to 4,000m2 and Mitre 10 Mega Hornby took the Retail Store of the Year over 4,000m2 category. Trade Store of the Year was won by PlaceMakers Cranford Street, also based in Hornby.
In terms of individual awards, Rowan Wade of PlaceMakers Mt Wellington won Trade Account Manager of the Year, while Kim McBeath of residential security firm Allegion won Supplier Account Manager of the Year.
Young Retailer of the Year went to Nick Ash of Drywall Direct, a specialist interior plastering supplier. Ash is an owner-operator who built his specialised plasterboard business from the ground up over the last nine years. Steve Bohling, group editor of NZ Hardware Journal and Hardware Awards owner Marketplace Media, says Ash’s business is niche, with the risks and strengths that come with a small business, but his hard work, nose for an opportunity and skilled application of basic business practices sets him apart from the pack.
The judging panel praised Ash’s all-round achievement: “The winner has every aspect of the business nailed. He is a genuine, humble and hardworking guy with a massive future ahead of him.”
Dale King of PlaceMakers Cook Street, Auckland, is the 2015 Hardware Awards Retailer of the Year. Bohling says PlaceMakers’ Cook St branch is known for being super-busy, and King has been applying his vast experience to it for the last 14 months.
The panel of judges said the finalists for this category were so close that the decision was “a matter of some debate”.
“ [King] stood out for his clear goal setting, his commercial drive and determination and turning around both the performance and the culture of his store.”
King, who has worked for PlaceMakers for 13 years, says the Cook St branch is the third he has run. He says he came to the store following the departure of his predecessor, a joint venture partner who had been in place for 22 years. A number of the sales team had also left at this time and after joining a competitor, were targeting PlaceMakers Cook St’s customers.
King says he addressed this situation by providing strong leadership and stability, which allowed the business to continue growing in spite of the pressure.
“It’s really working with people to see that business is all about growth, you can’t stay still.”
Asked about his favourite aspect of working in hardware retail, King said working with people – both customers and staff – was the highlight for him.
“There’s a lot of good people in this industry,” he says.
King modestly passed on the responsibility for his win to his team.
“It’s not all about me,” he says. “I’m the one that goes up and gets the prize, but they’re just as much part of it as I am.”
Bohling noted that although neither Ash nor King is a “retailer” in the traditional sense, because both operate in a B2B or trade-facing market, both show evidence of retailing best practice in their personal approach in front of a judging panel and in the key metrics submitted with their entries to the 2015 Hardware Awards.