During his two years as chief executive of Retail NZ, Mark Johnston instituted an enormous amount of change. Now, he feels those changes are mostly complete, and he’s moving on to a role as director of international business at Weltec / Whitireia New Zealand. We asked him for the lowdown.
With new brands, new channels, a new website and the upcoming shop.kiwi forum on February 16, Johnston has had his hands full since February 2014.
“There’s lots of change that’s been completed,” he says.
He feels that now these programmes have largely been settled in, his leaving will not disrupt the organisation. Retail NZ will remain in the capable hands of general manager commercial Scott Fisher as interim chief executive until a new chief executive is found.
Change is never finished, says Johnston, but Retail NZ is now well-positioned to take on the future – he believes this was not the case prior to his arrival.
Johnston describes his invitation from Weltec / Whitireia as “one of those opportunities that came up”. He wasn’t looking for a new job, but the offer was too tempting to ignore.
“It was just an opportunity that felt like an interesting new challenge,” Johnston says. “You can’t pick and choose when those come up.”
He has not previously worked in the education sector, but with four children under 16 of his own, the sector is at least familiar.
Of his achievements at Retail NZ, Johnston says he is gratified by the way the organisation has maintained its support of retailers big and small throughout its internal changes. He’s proud of The Register and NZRetail (justifiably, we think), and feels that Retail NZ’s digital channels and commercial partnerships are in a good space.
“In terms of stand-outs, there’s lots of stand-outs,” Johnston says.
He will leave Retail NZ at the beginning of next month.