Family-owned OTR says it is serious about working strategically with supplier partners to deliver better customer outcomes and realise significant, long term, sustainable growth.
Suppliers and business partners were invited to attend the OTR Partners Strategy Day last week at The Bend Motorsport Park, Tailem Bend, South Australia.
Attendees heard from OTR’s senior leadership team, including CEO Warren Wilmot, Head of Customer Offer Hitendra Bisht, General Manager Marketing Sarah Baxter and Head of OTR Food & Beverage Natalie Dalbo.
Mr Wilmot spoke about joining the business as CEO last year following a period of consulting. Since then, he says, he has brought in experienced people and hired some local talent to help kickstart some major activities, including tidying up OTR’s strategic plan.
“We’ve a list of activities for the coming year, some of which are building the foundation for future growth, but also a number in key customer-facing areas,” Mr Wilmot said.
OTR has a strong presence throughout South Australia, where the brand originated. It has also commenced extending its business interstate.
“We currently have 147 stores and have officially moved into Victoria with Irymple and Portland open and Mildura and two in Horsham on the way,” Mr Wilmot said. “We also have some sites in NSW in development.”
“I can’t wait to take the business further east and test the boundaries of this business.”
Embracing challenges and opportunities
OTR is facing many of the same challenges as other convenience retailers: the change in fuel landscape with more fuel-efficient cars and the rising cost of infrastructure and obligations; changes in the tobacco category; and customers becoming more discerning, but also valuing their time.
“Currently we have some challenges in continuing to refine our customer offer, build the back-end infrastructure and business capabilities, scale the business for more stores, and interstate expansion,” Mr Wilmot said.
“We’re not standing still while we do this. We’re moving some innovation forward in line with developing the building blocks for the future.”
In the past year, OTR completed major upgrades to several stores, including the total knock down and rebuild of some. It’s also about to start a project that will upgrade a further 105 stores.
This is despite the fact that a number of these are already “best in class” stores, says Mr Wilmot.
“The business believes in continued investment,” he said.
OTR is also investing in supply chain efficiencies, digital assets (including its popular OTR App), and is in the early to mid-stages of the implementation of an ERP and a new store policy system scheduled to go live in mid-2020.
“We will have the latest state of the art system that will leapfrog all our competitors,” Mr Wilmot said. “We’ve also bought a system that’s easily upgradeable and will remain state of the art going forward. This will give us better clarity in inventory and data as well as improved interaction with our digital assets and customer facing offers.
“This is a huge project for the business – the biggest investment that isn’t bricks, mortar, equipment or dirt – the business has ever had.”
The role of partners
Speaking of the importance of partnerships, Mr Wilmot said optimising trading terms for the benefit of both suppliers and OTR will be a major focus in the coming months.
“I’m really keen that we both make money by selling more stuff,” he told suppliers. “We need your help with optimising our range with the best sellers and with the products that you will bring to market. We want strategic partners who will work with our teams to deliver growth for the future.”
He says OTR’s size and structure make it an ideal partner for suppliers looking to trial product.
“We’ve a well organised and controlled corporate chain that’s big enough to create releases of new products or trials, but medium sized for control and measurement,” he said.
“We can deliver trials for both the whole state or even just for regional areas to test and improve products, offers or pricing as well as testing customer acceptance.”
Mr Wilmot says OTR is seeking the support of suppliers as the business expands beyond South Australia.
“We’ll be happy to work with key suppliers who want to work with us as we grow,” he said.