Elwood awarded FoodWorks Small Store of the Year

In recognition of its standout store offer tailored to the needs of the community and dedication to customer service, FoodWorks Elwood in Victoria was recently awarded FoodWorks Small Store of the Year, with owner John Gomez also honoured as Local Retailer of the Year. 

Jane Boler.

FoodWorks has been part of the Elwood Village Shopping strip for many years, with John Gomez and his business partner Peter Koutsoumbos taking over ownership of the store in April 2007. According to Mr Gomez, the store was quite dated at the time and needed a lot of work and, after a few months, the pair had the store completely gutted and refitted with new refrigeration, shelving and front counters. In addition, both front and back POS was updated, the existing delicatessen was removed and a liquor department introduced.

The store currently occupies a space of around 330sqm and carries between 6,000 and 7,000 SKUs across departments including liquor, dairy, freezer, fruit and vegetables, meat and grocery.

“We are always on the look-out for new lines that hit the market and, most importantly, relevant ones to our store,” Mr Gomez said. “We range a good variety of organic products, as well as gluten free to cater for a majority of our customers.”

Eco Foods and NatureFirst organic and gluten-free ranges were first introduced two to three years ago and have been allocated a large area of hangsell space, leading the section to become a destination in-store for many customers.

“We ensure we stock products our customers want and, if we don’t have them, we do everything we can to get them on the shelves,” Mr Gomez said.

FoodWorks Elwood employs 20 staff and the store prides itself on providing a positive shopping experience for customers.

“We continue to invest in our store day in, day out by having more than enough staff to look after all customers,” Mr Gomez said. “We ensure all staff greet customers as they walk around our store.

“We face every product in every department all day, every day. Our floors are mopped every day and machine buffed four days a week and we strip and polish our floors twice a year to ensure our store is always clean.”

It is this dedication to serving the community that saw the store recently named FoodWorks Small Store of The Year, and Mr Gomez Local Retailer of the Year.

“This is a massive achievement, not only for me personally as a business owner but for the staff, who work very hard every day to ensure that our store is the best,” Mr Gomez said. “We have received other awards in previous years, but to win best store in Australia is a fantastic achievement and I would like to congratulate our staff ,who make our store what it is every day.”

This isn’t the first time that FoodWorks Elwood has been recognised for excellence, with the store previously awarded:

  • 2012 – State Winner for Vic, Tas, SA – Local Store of the Year.
  • 2012 – State Winner for Vic, Tas, SA Most Outstanding Dairy/Freezer Department.
  • 2012 – National Winner Most Outstanding Dairy/Freezer Department.
  • 2013 – Finalist for Local Store Of The Year – Vic.
  • 2013 – Finalist for Most Outstanding Grocery Department – Vic.
  • 2013 – Finalist for Most Outstanding Liquor Department – Vic.
  • 2013 – Winner for Most Outstanding Dairy Freezer – Vic.

Mr Gomez has been in retail all of his working life and started working at drive-through bottle shops at the age of 17 and by 21 was managing liquor stores. Prior to purchasing FoodWorks Elwood eight years ago, he had never worked in grocery, but loves what he does.

“I love my staff and truly believe that taking care of them is one of the most important things in managing a store like mine,” he said. “I involve staff in decision-making, in running the business day to day. I believe if you take good care of your staff, they will take care of you and your business.

“I take a great deal of satisfaction knowing that our customers leave the store happy with the service they have received. I try to never lose focus of what I try to achieve every day – to ensure that every customer has a positive experience in my store.”

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