Video Transcript: Australia is a different market - Hellers

John Mcwhirter, Hellers CEO: Well Hellers is actually 25 years old this year.     

But I think most people know the Hellers brand.  We're known for bacon, ham and small goods 

I joined Hellers 7 years ago and I am the CEO, and what excites me about Hellers is the opportunity to grow the business.  At 25 years to have grown to where it is, it is actually a success story, but we want to continue that growth.   

Well we started looking around for opportunities to grow because our market share in New Zealand had reached plus 50%. 

When we went into Australia we thought that we would be able to enter Australia relatively easy and there would be no barriers to entry.  But we learnt otherwise.   

Australia is and isn’t similar.  It's one of those traps.  If you think you understand it then you'll probably make some mistakes.  So Australia is different commercially, working with the retailers over there is different.  The supply chains, the logistics, the channels are all different.   

Firstly in terms of testing our assumptions about the Australian market we spent a lot of time simply walking around, looking at supermarkets, looking at products on the shelves, looking at what consumers were being offered over there - packaging, product.   

We purchased the product, we tried it, we ate it, we cooked it, and we did all of the things that consumers do, and to learn how consumers use that product over there and what they expected in terms of taste.   

We did focus groups in Brisbane, Sydney and in Melbourne, and we gleaned a lot of information from that because we did a significant number. 

We learnt a lot from the focus groups because we got to talk to something like a hundred different Australians.  And through that process they ate our product, they talked about our packaging, and they gave us their insight into how they saw our categories in the Australian market.   

The Australians taught us something about how they perceive New Zealand.  One of the real insights that we got was I thought that you would not be able to put "Hellers New Zealand's Butcher" on our packaging and therefore we should remove it.   

But one of the strong points that came back from the Australians was: Hellers, New Zealand, and he's a butcher, a real butcher?  And: oh that's good.  I'll have to buy that product.  So it actually changed our understanding about being honest about we were New Zealanders selling in Australia.  Which was quite an insight and actually a massive revelation. 

When we started working with NZTE in an odd way we actually started looking at ourselves.  And I think one of the good things about NZTE was they sat us down and said: well, what are you doing in New Zealand?  And so we had some self examination around what we actually did here.