Foodstuffs Auckland Ltd Retail

Founded in 1925, the Foodstuffs organization has grown to become the country’s biggest grocery distributor and retailer, and one of New Zealand’s largest businesses. Foodstuffs Auckland is one of three separate, regionally based, retailer-owned co-operative companies that make up the federation body, Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd. Foodstuffs commands 57% of their market share in their industry and company growth has outpaced the market for the past two years. EBIT and sales per square metre exceed that of competition.

The Challenge

Despite its phenomenal track record, Foodstuffs knew that organic growth would become harder with each passing year. They need 75 new managers each year for the next five years and while their success had always hinged on developing people from within the organization’s ranks, they turned to this strategy with renewed energy in order to secure future growth.

Their goals were straightforward but hardly simple to achieve. They aimed to develop leadership at every level, to become a world-class employer of choice, and to develop each individual to his or her full potential. The foundation for this plan was a focus on leadership development.

The Solution

Foodstuffs turned to The Ken Blanchard Companies New Zealand affiliate to help them with the task of creating their people development strategy. In their words, “When you work with Blanchard, their concepts and their fundamental truths become part of the language and the culture of the organization.” Together, Foodstuffs and Blanchard designed a comprehensive curriculum including Situational Frontline Leadership, and Situational Leadership® II models. A pilot group consisting of 12 individuals from senior managerial levels was the first to participate in the two workshops delivered five to six weeks apart.

In order to set the expectation for change, Foodstuffs utilized 360-degree assessments and prior to commencing their Leadership Development aligned personal objectives and training objectives to the assessment findings. Further assessments were carried out to look at personality and preferences to increase participant self awareness and prepare the candidates to learn. In addition, a support system that included “corporate buddies” and an assigned coach were employed to sustain learning and support change after the training had taken place.


Results from the program have been exceptional. Within the first year, ROI on the project has been over $600,000, a more than tenfold return on the training investment. In addition, participation, collaboration, ownership, teamwork, morale, and the inspiration to make a difference have all increased. In specific examples from within the business, Foodstuffs estimates they have achieved

  • A 28% reduction in employee turnover within three months in just one supermarket
  • A 1% out-of-stock reduction, resulting in $100,000 additional profit
  • A reduction in delivered cost per carton of 9.5% through one of their distribution Centres, resulting in $200,000 in additional profit

Perhaps equally telling is the shift in employee morale and attitude. In the words of Foodstuffs’ employee members, the impact of the training has been enormous. One employee comments, “This has been extremely valuable; I want to pass it along to others. It provides the skills needed to have an impact in the workforce and turns values into behaviors and performance.” And in the words of another, “This training is not just a course, it’s a journey.”

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