Yesterday, Current.com.au presented an exclusive interview with Dick Smith’s national operations manager, Armando Pedruco, regarding the future of the company and the current state of the retail industry. Today, we present part two of this special Q&A.
By Claire Reilly
Current.com.au: What are Dick Smith’s strengths as a retailer?
Armando Pedruco: We want to be known as a place where we’ve got great staff. We spend a lot of time and a lot of effort training all our people to know what consumer electronics are all about. The difference between us and some of those department stores is our knowledge and our service levels, and I think that’s really important.
We’ve also got a really good range. We focus heavily on price – I think we have to be competitive in this market and we are absolutely competitive with anyone in this industry. Sometimes I think people don’t realise that. We’ve got some competitive prices and, as our promotion tells you, we do deals. If you see something cheaper at JB or Harvey Norman, come to Dick Smith because we’ll match that price and hopefully give you better service along the way. We’re really proud of that.
C: Dick Smith obviously wants to focus on service, but is it difficult when other retailers are discounting heavily? As an example, consumers can walk into Big W and buy the New iPad for $40 below RRP – how do you compete with that?
AP: I think it is a challenge. In terms of Big W, that is their strategy and they’re sticking with it. I think that’s important, and if you say you’re going to be the cheapest then you’ve got to do that.
People coming to Dick Smith in that scenario would be about understanding what the iPad does, talking about what applications are available, and seeing our great accessories range too. Like I said, rather than just the price of the unit, we try to bundle a nice package for the consumer. They still might get that $40 off, but they might get in some other areas. It allows them to walk out the door with their product fully functional and working 100 per cent, and in the end the customer is getting a really good price. So it is a challenge, but we fight it through. The launch of iPad was really successful for us too, so we’re pretty excited that customers are loyal to our brand.
C: What is Dick Smith’s plan for the immediate future?
AP: We’re pretty confident, it’s just a matter of keeping focusing on the customer. We do a lot of research on our customers and they’re changing every day, so we’ve got to do the same, we keep changing as well. Our new Canberra store particularly is a really exciting one. Until we decide what’s happening with Dick Smith, it’s probably one of the last ones for a little while until we settle down. But it’s come up really well, the team’s done a great job, and we’ve got a lot of stores in Canberra, so we’ve captured the market quite well.
C: In terms of more long-term strategies, if Dick Smith changes ownership (from Woolworths Limited to another company), how will you plan for that?
AP: It’s always hard to go through. Our team has handled this really well – from Woolworths’ management to Dick Smith’s management. We’ve all worked closely to get the best outcome for Dick Smith and Woolworths as a group have invested a lot of money within Dick Smith.
The decision has been made now that Dick Smith is going to be better run in the future as a part of a different organisation. Woolworths are a big box retailer, and we’ve never been a big box retailer – we’re a very specific, specialty retailer.
Our retail teams are fantastic, they’ve handled the whole transitional change really well. They’re pumped, they love the brand still, they still turn up to work and give 100 per cent which is fantastic. Our customers through this period are probably getting better deals than ever before, probably better service than ever before, because the team all know that we’re fighting for our survival and for the future.
We’re also communicating to our teams a lot and they know what’s happening as we learn what’s happening. And as I say, we’ve had a huge amount of support from Woolworths. As the leader of the operational team in Dick Smith, I really couldn’t have asked for anything more.