Owned and operated by Pepkor, which owns over 4,000 retail store fronts globally, by rights Postie Plus should be swamped in knowledge, experience, scale and financial clout. We spoke to Postie Plus’s merchandise director Linda Leonard, who told us a bit about a new endeavour that the store has taken on in an attempt to financially de-stress the process of school uniform shopping.
How can generic uniforms become an income stream for Postie Plus?
At Postie Plus, we are a part of Pepkor, which is actually one of the largest children's wear retailers. This has given us a great global source to use in order to get a hold of really good quality products. What we have done is try to understand if there is a market for what we are doing, and then making it our core offer. In a survey we conducted we found that 1 in 5 schools in New Zealand offers the option of a generic uniform, which doesn’t sound like much, but actually ends up being a lot. If we are able to make contact with schools that don’t offer this option, and change their minds, then our income stream will only expand.
Are many other New Zealand companies doing what you’re doing?
Yes, there are. The Warehouse, Kmart and Farmers all offer some form of generic uniform.
Has this idea taken off globally?
Yes definitely, being from the UK, I can vouch for the fact that most schools over there that aren’t private offer the option for a generic uniform. Big overseas corporations such as Tesco provide for these schools, and we aim to do the same in New Zealand.
Do you think that there is a market for generic uniforms in New Zealand? Have many schools got on board with your idea?
I would really love for schools to get on board with this idea. Not just for obvious biased reasons, but I think it’s so unfair that parents have to pay these ludicrous amounts of money for something that they could get for under $50 at Postie Plus. School boards are actually the groups that make the final choices regarding uniform’s, it’s not a government decision. These school boards need to be aware that so many parents are struggling to paying for their children’s uniforms. We will be contacting school boards this year in order to seek out opportunities for our campaign to flourish.
Is this all still a part of your continuing turnaround strategy that you embarked on in 2016?
It’s more so a part of our total strategy than our turnaround strategy. We have examined the marketplace and found that people want the best for less. That’s what we are trying to give.
Kmart reboot renaissance. Have you been effected by the wild popularity that Kmart has had in the past few years? If so, is this one of the reasons you are investing so heavily into the education sector?
I think that the Kmart renaissance has not just affected us, but has affected the whole market, but I also wouldn’t just say it’s been Kmart. The marketplace has seen a shift towards lower priced goods in the more recent years, so I would say that a lot of stores who can’t or who don’t offer a segment in that sector would be struggling.
Your most expensive item is only $12. Have you lowered your profit margins for uniforms, and if so, how does this benefit you?
Like I mentioned previously, being a part of Pepkor which is such a huge influencing corporation has helped us to source the best possible product for the lowest possible price.
What impact has this change had on the retail industry?
That’s a little bit hard to answer at this stage. So far the customers have reacted really well and we are very pleased. We will be monitoring the marketplace over the next year in order to compete with the expanding demands.
The Postie Plus exclusive School Plus range is a further extension of the retailer’s commitment to quality and affordability.