Julie and David Dorrian have owned the Lynches Road Store for almost 10 years. As their customer base grew, so too did the need for a bigger, more convenient store. In this feature we introduce the brand new SPAR EXPRESS.
How long have you lived in Armidale?
Julie and I have been in the retail industry for a combined 30 years in the Armidale area. We have both been locals for most of our lives; I went to school here, and Julie worked in Armidale after growing up in Tamworth. We have three active children; they currently attend O’Connor Catholic College, Armidale High and Galloway Children’s Centre.They are also involved in the community through sporting groups and Navy cadets.
We moved our family to the coast for a year to try ‘coastal living’. We enjoyed the coast experience; however, we felt our children would benefit more from a country lifestyle and education. We also missed the community feeling of the New England region.
When did you first purchase Lynches Road store?
Julie and I bought Lynches Rd store in September 2003.
Why did you decide to rebuild?
In 2009 we realised that we had outgrown our small corner store and there was an increasing demand from the community to provide a large scale convenience store. We started initial proceedings to get our store upgraded and after a few hiccups, we began building on 27 March 2012.
Walk us through the rebuild?
We contracted the building to Gary Burton, a local builder whose family has been building in the Armidale area for generations. Julie and I enjoyed the building experience; we found all the tradesmen to be very helpful, and nothing was ever a problem. Watching the building go from a small little shop to a bulldozed site, then to watch it grow into our vision was incredible. Seeing the frame go up, then the interior being done, then the outdoor furniture settings installed and being involved in every step of the process was very exciting.
The build took 15 weeks from start to finish. We were blessed with good weather for the majority of the build, and thankfully there were no major holdups. We cannot thank the builder and his team of tradesmen enough for doing such a professional job and making the whole process a hassle-free zone; we will gladly work with you all again for our future projects.
Why have you chosen to fly the SPAR flag?
One of the biggest problems of being a small convenience store is trying to find a regular supplier of groceries at a reasonable price. Increasing the size of our shop took us into a different league with suppliers. After lengthy discussions with a few buying groups, we decided to go with SPAR. We found SPAR to provide a better service and support group, which in turn will provide our customers with a better buying experience.
We are now purchasing our groceries direct out of the Brisbane SPAR warehouse and our fruit and veg straight out of the Brisbane markets weekly. We have weekly specials throughout the store and because we are buying direct, we can keep our prices competitive with other larger supermarkets. Being a part of SPAR, we have access to 17,500 lines of groceries and are increasing our core range weekly.
Our aim was to provide the public with convenience at supermarket prices. We believe we have created that, while keeping the community spirit that is special to a corner store. The customers can still park out the front, get the groceries they need and be back in their car heading home 10 minutes later. With a bigger shop, we needed more staff. We have kept some of our former staff, but have doubled the number of staff to cater for the increased customers.
Describe your new store?
Although we have completely changed our store, the new and improved store was always going to incorporate our takeaway to complement the new grocery lines. We maintained our extensive menu, including BBQ chickens, hamburgers, salad rolls, fish and chips and our famous chicken caesar burger. We have also introduced ‘Café Vergnano’ coffee, thickshakes and sundaes. Since opening, we have been extremely busy with our takeaway, and customers have been very grateful we are still cooking food.
We are very proud of creating a unique, fresh and competitive store that can service the local neighbourhood and surrounding areas. The responses have been overwhelming and very humbling; we have had such positive feedback from customers. We have had customers who are never short of a word rendered speechless, while others have become quite emotional about not having to fight crowds downtown for little items. We are thankful to our returning customers, who endured 15 weeks of no shop, and to our new customers for coming and having a look. We feel it is important for local people to shop locally; we are looking forward to a long and healthy relationship with the Armidale community.
More facts about SPAR EXPRESS
SPAR supplies grocery products and marketing and retail support services to approximately 300 independent retail supermarkets, including the SPAR, 5 STAR and Jardin Fresh Life banner groups located in Queensland, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Pacific Island areas.
SPAR is one of only two major suppliers to independent supermarket operators on the eastern seaboard of Australia, and SPAR operates a large distribution centre of some 40,000 sqm from premises located at Acacia Ridge on the southern side of Brisbane.
The SPAR Distribution Centre carries approximately 15,000 dry grocery lines, with a further 2,500 frozen/chilled product lines warehouse under contract through Costa Logistics distribution centre at Morningside. The Distribution Centres are technology enabled, utilising the latest ERP computer platform linked via warehouse management systems and RF technology.
Approximately 11 million shoppers pass through the doors of SPAR stores in the world each day, and SPAR Australia is one of the fastest growing retail groups in Australia, with store number growth rising from 25 stores in 2006 to 75 stores in 2008 and over 100 stores under the SPAR Australia brand in 2010.
SPAR Australia Limited is strategically positioned to capitalise on industry growth, through the provision of an offer that is moulded around the needs of its customers. The heart of the SPAR philosophy is that by “working together all benefit” – an ideal which is embraced by all at SPAR.
This story was published in issue 64 of the New England Focus