The Timing is just 'White' at White's IGA

Author: Words from Roz White - White''s IGA Written by Shari Hall
Issue 82

The Timing is just 'White' at White's IGA

In 1993, Michael and Roz White purchased their first convenience store. It was a little Night Owl store on Aerodrome Road in Maroochydore.

Both coming from a banking background, they entered the supermarket industry green, naïve and inexperienced, but the timing seemed right and they were keen to take on the challenge of a new venture.

Today, 23 years later, the Sunshine Coast community can visit any one of four White’s IGAs and be guaranteed to receive a ‘top notch unique shopping experience’!

Eager to learn the industry, working within the Night Owl franchise model provided them with the initial necessary education and support they needed to develop their dream for the future. With a lot of love and attention, they nurtured their investment into a profitable store within five years.

“We have worked hard over the years to build our business with a continuous improvement approach, always striving for excellence. We’ve built slowly, choosing areas of growth, and have made a good hard effort to constantly create new opportunities,” says Roz.

Soon thereafter, they purchased their second store, the 24-hour Mooloolaba Night Owl. Over the years, they have carefully approached business owners of old, run-down stores and, with Michael’s drive, were able to find opportunities to expand their empire.

By 2004 they had acquired the AUR store (a brand that no longer exists) in Mt Coolum, and the Bli Bli IGA. They purchased a store each year from 2004-2007, expanding to Tin Can Bay, Rothwell and Mooloolah Valley, eventually owning six stores simultaneously.

For some, it may not be easy to make the hard choices, but after closely examining store profitability, they decided to off-load those that were not performing to their expectations.

Instead, now as seasoned industry professionals, the Whites became IGA retailers and made a strategic decision to focus and consolidate on their most successful stores.

They converted their Mt Coolum store into an IGA and relocated its premises, and completely rebuilt the Bli Bli location to create their first Supa IGA at the River Markets, six times the size of the original, whilst re-developing and extending the River Markets Shopping Centre at the same time.

“We focused on making the four remaining stores more profitable and diversified in commercial property development, better presented, and improved our internal processes to create more efficient models. It’s a continual process of refinement and improvement,” says Roz.

She said the key is patience, consistency, perseverance, and evolution over time. The difference is evident when one walks into a White’s IGA. Roz travelled extensively overseas, studying supermarket models all over the world, looking at different concepts, retail markets, then adapting those global views to fit the local community. It is clear that years of research and applied customer feedback have influenced the presentation of the new Peregian Beach IGA, their most recent store, which opened in September 2016.

The process began more than five years ago when the Whites started negotiations with a developer named Tony Scanlon.

Careful attention was taken to provide a footprint within the Peregian Beach shopping centre that was accessible, a good fit with the community and its beautiful environment, as well as acceptable to the Council. Additionally, Roz says she “spent a lot of time researching the local demographic and target market. I studied for quite a long time to identify what it was I thought we should deliver to the locals - it’s a beautiful area and I asked the locals what they wanted.”

At the new Peregian Beach IGA there’s a big emphasis on fresh food and healthy eating. Food that is unique and locally sourced, as well as a café serving barista-made coffees, has created an exciting, tailor-made shopping destination for the local community. The Whites are proud to be local, live local, and support local producers. Their excitement for the new store is enhanced by their outstanding team.

There is indeed something special about this store. With parquetry wooden floors, and custom-designed signs guiding you along your way from the butcher, to the bakery, to the pantry, it is a food shopper’s delight.

From the beautiful fresh local produce to the chic, modern interior, the Whites have created an engaging shopping experience.

“I want our customers to know that we are providing them with a real world class shopping destination,” says Roz.

Throughout their journey, the Whites have encountered many challenges, some that would make them think it would be easier to walk away than stay. But they have learned to never give up, and to constantly seek improvement for themselves and the communities they support. The Peregian Beach area is growing and developing new estates. And the timing couldn’t  be better for Roz and Michael White to see their vision come to fruition.