Summer Questions: Warehouse Group CEO Nick Grayston on its plans to tackle global competitors

The Warehouse Group chief executive Nick Grayston reflects on the last year and the challenges the business faced due to the Delta outbreak.

How would you describe 2021 for your business?

Challenging and satisfying!

How is your business planning to tackle 2022?

Consumer confidence is softening so all businesses will need to work hard in 2022.

Across The Warehouse Group, we will continue to drive home our slate of change, but double-down on our commitment to being customer-centric by solving needs and wants with our frictionless and rewarding ecosystem.

What will be the major challenges and/or opportunities for your industry?

Supply chain remains a global challenge, but one that is amplified by our geographical distance and small market. Competition is intensifying with the arrival of global competitors, and we have to be ready to meet that challenge. The opportunity we have is to know and serve our customers better and maximise our advantage of being Kiwis, plus our strong regional network of stores – both are hard to emulate.

How do you think the Government has handled the Covid-19 crisis?

Covid-19 has been a major challenge for governments around the world and our government has been no exception. Leading through it is an unenviable task but we’ve done the hard work, we’re now one of the most highly vaccinated countries in the world and the question is how we are going to use that to our advantage? Reconnecting with the world and getting back to pursuing a wider agenda that drives innovation, tackles climate change, addresses child poverty and investment in infrastructure is going to be key.

What are two key things the Government should do for economic recovery?

As a country, we are missing out on the benefits of the global economy so I’m keen to see the New Zealand borders open and trade, tourism and talent flourishing again – this is urgent.

What was the most interesting non-Covid story of 2021?

COP26. While the world has been distracted by Covid-19, the real problem of our generation has been neglected. Countries simply aren’t moving fast enough by legislating to hit the commitments of the Paris Agreement. The impact of not doing so will be far greater in purely financial terms, but the human cost will be devastating even if all the commitments of COP26 are achieved, and we restrict global warming to 2 degrees because 1.5 degrees is already out of the question.

What are your predictions for 2022?

The only thing we can guarantee about the future is that the pace of change will accelerate exponentially. AI will become the master technology that controls all the others – this is already happening but will accelerate rapidly in 2022.

What’s the worst mistake you’ve made in business?

Making the wrong appointments and not moving the wrong people on quickly enough. I chastise myself for being too soft and hoping that people can change when they generally don’t. I need to trust my instincts on this more.

What would you rate as your greatest success in business?

Moving The Warehouse Group to Agile – a new method of working. I’m also proud of the work that we’ve done to close the gender pay gap across The Warehouse Group’s 12,000 team members which is now under 1 per cent, and we will reach 100 per cent pay equity in 2022.

Where are you holidaying this summer?

I am British so we’re looking forward to travelling back and seeing family sometime in the new year but in the meantime, we have some summer adventures planned here in Aotearoa, starting with a rafting trip on the Clarence.

How has the media reported Covid-19 and what’s your view of the Fourth Estate?

I would have liked to see more international context shared by the media as we face Delta. Sharing other countries’ learnings and insights may have helped us move faster. As we look ahead to 2022, I’m hopeful that we will have a strong Government, strong opposition, strong media and less Covid-19!

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