How Barbeques Galore is transforming its retail offer

By Sarah Stowe | 26 Apr 2021 View comments

Barbeques Galore CEO Angus McDonald spoke to Inside Franchise Business Executive about transitioning a legacy brand into a modern retailer.

The retail professional took on the CEO role less than two years ago, after serving a decade-long stint at the Super Retail Group. He is also an advisory board member for the retail association NORA.

“Barbeques Galore has great recognition. But critically, two years ago the stores were not that different from 20 years earlier. We needed to quickly address that and address the future,” he says.

“We’ve taken a broad agenda – store network, design, the range, systems and processes – and it’s a real challenge to make sure we do it at the right pace.

“It’s been important to take franchisees on the journey with us. I’m connecting directly with franchise community, ensuring they understand the journey, and support us.”

Long term consumer behaviour shifts

With the disruptions of 2020 behind us, McDonald reflects that there are pandemic-led long term shifts in consumer behaviours – and these have played into the homemaker category.

“It’s crucial to recognise the importance of tailwinds: the big change to more people working from home.  From an economic perspective we’re a long way from international travel being back to normal and we are seeing record rates of approvals for new homes.”

All these influences point to a renewed interest in the home.

Barbeques Galore’s social media campaigns highlighting the pleasures of enjoying a home-based lifestyle have been well received: social traffic grew at 485 per cent while overall traffic grew 143 per cent.

The high level of interest translated into digital sales as ecommerce revenue also grew by 328 per cent.

“Through Covid, we’ve not wasted an opportunity to connect and engage with customers,” says McDonald.

Angus McDonald | Inside Franchise Business Executive

Angus McDonald | Inside Franchise Business Executive

Consistency is the byword for the brand transition that’s being rolled out across the network; a consistent level of engagement, consistency in how customers engage with the brand.

Retail strategy is core

“A good retail strategy has to be at the heart of everything; the customer value proposition, what makes us unique, how we can bring this to life.

“We’re defining a much clearer customer proposition and purpose: bringing people together around flame. This has a significant cultural role – since the dawn of time, people have gathered round fire to tell stories, enjoy a meal,” says McDonald.

“We sell a product at the heart of this. But it’s also about how we present our brand. We’ve been looking at other dimensions: store experience, how the range is put together, our digital capabilities in terms of omnichannel. As we think across each dimension we have to consider how we complete the solution.

“We’re not just selling a barbeque, we’re helping customers to use it well and embrace different styles of cooking.”

This approach has translated into a modernised merchandising approach and a lifestyle setting for retail stores, adding rubs and sauces -and fuel – to the merchandise mix, even introducing barbecue cuts of meat through a ‘BBQ in a box’ online offer launched late last year.

“We’ve seen some really promising feedback early on in small trials,” says McDonald.

“We focus on product development, offering exclusive brands that lead on innovation in the Australian market. We’re very focused on accelerating the introduction of new product.”

He reveals that more than one third of sales come from new products.

Developing a rich omnichannel experience

The brand had begun the transition initiative when McDonald joined the business; a new ERP system started in 2018 was completed early 2020.

More recent innovations are an order management system, a new ecommerce platform and CRM system – these latter systems going live in May.

“That’s been a significant journey and investment,” points out McDonald. “We have an existing ecommerce site but we see it as important to be as sophisticated as it can be. 

“With the investments we’ve made, we are aggressively going after opportunities to deliver a rich omnichannel experience.”