CHANGE: New Auckland's SPAR Express is under the new management of Katrina Combridge (right), who is with staff member Tanya Marxsen.
CHANGE: New Auckland's SPAR Express is under the new management of Katrina Combridge (right), who is with staff member Tanya Marxsen. Matt Harris

Fresh start for SPAR Express

A FEW simple tweaks under new management was all it took to increase the bottom line of a Gladstone convenience store.

Katrina Combridge took over management duties at SPAR Express in New Auckland during November last year and quickly identified areas that needed attention.

"I'm big on customer service. We looked at some of the staff and brought in some new staff, old habits die hard generally, but a lot of the old staff moved on before I started,” Ms Combridge said.

"We implemented a few new staff members and trained them on good and friendly customer service as well.”

Staff changes aren't the only improvements at the store, with Katrina identifying some obvious physical changes that were needed in order to spruce the place up.

"We've got the new coffee machine, Fanta 'Icy Whirl' for the kids, we've welcomed some new sweet ranges like muffins and tarts and some new concept meals.

"There's different types of crib meals added to that for people working night shift... they previously did a lot of meals but we added in a few different strategies.

"We cleaned the store up so it's nice, fresh and uncluttered now. We revamped the produce area... moved a few things and implemented our new chocolate and snack stand at the front counter for those impulse buys.”

FRESH: Spar Express at New Auckland has been under new management since November. Staff member Tanya Marxsen and store manager Katrina Combridge.
FRESH: Spar Express at New Auckland has been under new management since November. Staff member Tanya Marxsen and store manager Katrina Combridge. Matt Harris

Katrina has noticed a change in attitude towards the store since November and that has brought about an increase in turnover.

"Customer count has definitely gone up from week to week and so have the sales. The owners of the business are giving me good feedback so we're hoping all the new concepts will increase our trade as well,” she said.

"Category sales have increased, cigarettes are one of our biggest sellers because we're one of the cheapest in town... the main things that people come to a corner store for is milk, bread, lollies and chocolates, but we've increased what we've been selling grocery-wise.”

Katrina has also taken to social media, creating a Facebook page for the store which has nearly 300 likes.

She has a long history in retail, having previously owned a Brumby's Bakery franchise at Kin Kora from 2006 until 2012.

"Obviously this is a little different and bigger than the bakery, so it's been challenging, but a good challenge,” she said.



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