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Building an empire: Mitre 10's Neil Cowie

  • News
  • April 29, 2015
  • Jessy Edwards
Building an empire: Mitre 10's Neil Cowie

Mitre 10 celebrated its 40th birthday last year by grossing more than $1b in sales.

But it’s nothing to do with him, Mitre 10 chief executive Neil Cowie says.

“It’s been 40 years of intergenerational growth, and a strong strategy over a long period of time,” he explains.

Cowie, who has been at the cooperative for just over a year, will admit strong marketing has gone some way to boosting the retailer’s growth.

“We’ve been quite innovative in that area I believe – our latest campaign, ‘Bring on the Weekend’, two-thirds of Kiwis recall seeing, which I think is fantastic, it goes to the strength of the brand.”

Mitre 10’s Easy As videos is another online campaign that’s been a riotous success for the brand, with just over 4 million views at time of writing.

The videos cater for everyone from the DIY dabbler to the reno-buff, spanning from how to paint an interior wall to how to build a retaining wall.

Cowie says the renovation category, spurred by DIY programs like The Block, is on the rise “without a doubt”.

“There’s a whole generation coming through looking for inspiration...We wanna be the helpful mate,” he says.

Mitre 10 has about eight thousand people per day viewing the 54 videos, and plan to add ten more this year. And it’s not just Kiwis watching: 170,000 views are from Australia and 251,000 views are from the US.

“We’re inspiring them around the world how to build a fence and deck,” Cowie laughs.

Despite sharp social media strategy, Mitre 10s key focus is still in-store experience, with the retailer aiming to be a weekend destination store for families.

“The experience in-store is central to what we do – so they come on a Saturday, mum goes to garden centre, dad goes to tools, kids go to the jumping castle and they all meet up for lunch,” Cowie explains.

While Mitre 10 does have an online store, Cowie says he doesn’t see all hardware translating to ecommerce as naturally as clothes or books.

“Hardware is more about research and about information.

“Not too many people are going to buy 10L of paint online but what they’ll certainly do is look for inspiration online – they’ll watch the Easy As video online and then go in store and expect the customer experience to be equivalent.”

He says customer expectations are changing rapidly, but the real success of a business always comes down to having the right offering.

“The advent of omnichannel certainly makes [retail] more challenging but I think it’s damn exciting…you could have the best website but if your products aren’t relevant - forget about it.”

This story was originally published in NZRetail magazine issue 736, March 2015.

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Direct sales: How multi-level marketing works

  • News
  • April 18, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Direct sales: How multi-level marketing works

The $200 million-plus direct sales economy contains many lessons retailers can use. As part of a wider look at this thriving corner of retail, we created a quick explainer showing how this business model typically works.

Read more
 
 

Direct sales: Meet the upliners

  • News
  • April 18, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Direct sales: Meet the upliners

We profiled different participants in the direct sales industry to find out what retailers can learn from them. Meet Isagenix distributors Adam Nesbitt and Bianca Bathurst.

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Direct sales: Meet the business builder

  • News
  • April 18, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Direct sales: Meet the business builder

As part of a wider story looking at what retailers can learn from the direct sales industry, we profiled Isagenix distributor Ben Frost.

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  • Opinion
  • April 18, 2019
  • David Farrell
A spectrum of retailers

In recognition of April being Autism Awareness Month, retail commentator Dave Farrell considers the role of those on the spectrum in retail.

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How on-trend is your retail business?

  • Sponsored Content
  • April 18, 2019
  • Sponsored content
How on-trend is your retail business?

New insights from Visa highlight five evolving trends emerging from savvy retailers around the world. We’ve taken these global trends and looked at how they are playing out with merchants in New Zealand, and we’d now like to hear what you think of them.

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