NZ CEOs’ confidence in the economy dives in 2015, PwC survey says

  • News
  • March 2, 2015
  • Elly Strang
NZ CEOs’ confidence in the economy dives in 2015, PwC survey says

Two of the biggest concerns topping the list for CEOs were the availability of key skills in employees and changes in consumer behaviours which they felt would disrupt their industries.

Air New Zealand CEO Adrian Littlewood says his company has had to adjust to consumer behaviour changing drastically at airports.

“Even the airlines these days almost don’t see the customer until they get on the plane because it is all self-service,” Littlewood says.

“Rather the airport, the airline, the border agencies and the retailers all interact with a small slice of that experience.”

As for key skills for employees, the retail industry may become more optimistic as more focus is put on retail as a career path in university qualifications.

A new Bachelor in Retail and Business Management course kicked off at Massey University in February. Currently, 63 students are enrolled.

CEOs were increasingly worried about the speed of technological change, with 68 percent citing concern, up from 37 percent last year.

Changing technology has been a key concern for CEOs in retail for a while now, due to more consumers shopping online and new technology, such as omnichannel solutions, becoming available.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise CEO Peter Chrisp says it’s crucial to get on top of emerging digital platforms.

“To state the obvious, we have to get on board with the cloud,” Chrisp says.

Foodstuffs CEO Murray Jordan agrees that keeping up with key technology is important.

He says his company will look at forming alliances with partners who will provide the best digital experience for their customers.

“How can we provide the best app or the best way for our customer to engage with us? Partnerships are likely to be a big part of our future,” he says.

Mobile technologies are seen as the most important development in technology, with 84 percent of CEOs considering it important to their company.

The importance of mobile is also reflected in Vend’s predictions for 12 biggest trends in retail for 2015.

Vend predicts that mobile will continue to grow in all directions, with smartphones and tablets expected to play an even bigger role in consumers’ shopping habits.

Mobile ordering, increasingly sophisticated loyalty programmes and mobile wallets are all predicted to grow in popularity this year.

As for prospects for their own companies, 35 percent of CEOs are “very confident” about revenue growth in the next 12 months.

In 2014, CEOs were noticeably much more confident, with 60 percent expecting revenue growth. 

Despite these concerns, PwC New Zealand CEO Bruce Hassall says the economy may be more resilient than many CEOs believe.

“The New Zealand economy may surprise us further with its strength,” Hassall says.

“There will be regional dynamics to this – and in Auckland in particular, confidence is currently high, with the property sector and export opportunities underpinning this.”

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