The Trusts are on a roll. We’ve had another good year of growth of your businesses and in Giving Back to the community from the profits we have made for the fourth year in a row.
A combination of attracting more customers and being more efficient this year resulted in an $8.8 million profit from our retail liquor operations. This is the highest in our history and is notable for two outstanding achievements. First it is against the market trend where liquor sales are stagnating for many organisations. Second, it was achieved by growing our customer base by around 10% as more customers have chosen to enjoy the pleasant environment and
the fantastic customer service in our West Liquor and Village Wine & Spirits stores.
One of the great dilemmas for our kind of business is that we have to grow and yet we have to do so in ways that don’t compromise social responsibility with alcohol. What that means in simple words, is that we have increase our business but we can’t go out into the market to try to sell more alcohol to the same people. In some cases our aim has been to sell less alcohol, not selling high alcohol RTDs is a case in point.
I am proud to report that we have managed to achieve these objectives and as a result over the years, we have increased our “Giving Back” by about 900 percent;
it was about $100,000 five years ago and it’s around $1 million now. This $1 million is shared out across more than 200 events and organisations throughout West Auckland, some major and some very small, but all of it makes a difference and all of it helps make the West an even better place to live.
Just having The Trusts Arena makes a huge difference to the social fabric of this community. It is a world class arena that attracts world class events and occasions right into the heart of the community, where all Westies can have easy access.
And yet, everyone can make use of the indoor and outdoor arenas for their sport and fitness, for a very affordable cost. What Westie doesn’t value the opportunity to see the All Blacks at training, or the Sky City Mystics, or netball tests, or Spooks and Sparks or One Direction, or any one of dozens of attractions that come to “our town” thanks to The Trusts Arena. Likewise, who doesn’t feel proud when four Waitakere youngsters, who have been supported by The Don Oliver Youth Sport Scholarships are appointed to our Olympic team? The Trusts is proud to be an associate sponsor of those scholarships just as we’re proud of our sponsorship of The Trusts Sport Waitakere Excellence in Sport Awards, Rosebank and Central Park Business Associations, The Trusts Portage Ceramic Awards, The Trusts Arts and Sculpture Awards.
This is delivering on the dream. When Trusts were established the objective was that the community would benefit from owning and controlling the business of selling liquor. On the one hand there is responsibility and restraint in the business operations so that there isn’t “a liquor store on every corner” and there are robust ways to stop minors buying alcohol. On the other hand there is a million dollars coming back to the community.
I’m very happy to say that even half way through our future growth strategy, the majority of West Aucklanders approve of the way we’re fulfilling that objective.
I’m proud to say that we have achieved all of this by doing what we already do better. That approach has certainly been a winner for us over the last four years and it will continue to be a winner in the next few years. Another answer is to find new profit centres that, preferably, don’t involve alcohol or similar products.
As you know, we have tackled the dilemma of growing responsibly from a number of different directions and the results have been very pleasing. Profits and market share have grown year on year and importantly so have the profits we have kept. It is one thing to earn money and it is quite another to keep it. Efficiency, how the “back office” performs, is truly the key to making and keeping profits, buying smarter, selling smarter and managing the business smarter has been a cornerstone of our success.
This year we took a huge step forward by signing a deal with Vodafone to bring our IT systems into the very forefront of the 21st century and to future proof them as well. Our new systems bring us the very latest in cloud-based phone and computer systems while future proofing our “back office” with regularly upgraded software.
The new systems comprise mobile voice and data, connectivity across sites, improved security, modern call centre software and improved Wi-Fi services for customers in retail stores and hospitality venues. All of which will improve the customer experience and enable us to work smarter and more efficiently now, and into the future.
These efficiencies are another way in which we will manage smarter and keep more of the money we earn, to Give Back to the community. So, efficiencies coupled with exceptional staff training and the brilliant presentation of our stores and their product ranges and pricing, have worked very well for us. Now we turn our attention to achieving the same alchemy with our hospitality operations. We have only just started on this but the first results are already exceptional and we look
forward to more and more return on this investment as our hospitality offering is transformed.
We are a “people business”. Our customers will only deal with us if they enjoy the experience and so our people are our best ambassadors. It is very gratifying to report that the level of engagement of our staff with the company, its culture, values and what it is trying to achieve, is hugely ahead of where it was when we embarked on the transformation of the business.
Finally, this year we have successfully added a new profit centre with which to grow our business in an entirely new and socially responsible direction. There has been a significant change to investment thinking at The Trusts underpinned by a collectively agreed Investment Strategy that aims to proactively manage capital reserves for the long term benefit of West Auckland. This has resulted in setting up of our new profit centre, Trust Investments Management Ltd (TIML). TIML is charged with the professional management of our property portfolio with specialist advice and active management, taking us from being a passive long term invester to a proactive manager of our portfolio of investments.
I am very proud to make this report and thank our staff for their support, the WATS board, led by chairman Brian Corban, for their confidence and guidance and the elected members of the Portage and Waitakere Licensing Trusts, for the way they have supported the vision and elected to go forward and seize the future.