Interview: Petrol & Convenience Industry – Rick Clayton, Lion Dairy & Drinks

I recently discussed the Petrol and Convenience Industry with Rick Clayton, the National Account Manager at Lion Dairy & Drinks.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself? How long have you been involved with the Petrol and Convenience Industry? How long have you been with Lion? What’s the best thing about working for Lion?

I’m a father of two boys under two and I love to be active through triathlons and tennis (although not much of that is happening since kids). I’ve spent the last 10+ years in sales (Field/Grocery/Convenience) and marketing roles but the last seven years has been almost exclusively in the Convenience channel with Patties Foods and Lion. I‘ve been with Lion for the last four years, but have a combined service record of closer to nine years after two separate stints before Patties – they keep taking me back!  I love working for Lion because I genuinely believe in why everyone should be eating and drinking more juice/dairy as part of their overall health, nutrition and wellbeing.  Not many companies get government endorsement for customers to consume more of their product – it motivates me to make it easier for shoppers to buy the stuff that helps us live healthier lives.

How can Lion help Independent Service Station Operators grow their business?

Lion has great brands that people know and love. We have partnerships with most independent retailer banners giving customers access to great promotions and offers and we have the ‘feet on the street’ to support your stores at a local level. Because our product is fresh, we are one of the few suppliers that offer the service of direct deliveries to your store every week to support the availability of the product to your customers. Finally, our TV and radio spend are amongst the highest in the industry to ensure our brands are kept top-of-mind. Hopefully, that means customers are coming into your store and asking for great margin products like Dare 500ml Double Espresso!

You obviously get around a lot of Service Stations, including the majors. What is the best advice you could give an Independent in terms of competing with their larger competitors?

If I was running my own independent fuel/convenience outlet, I’d try to do three things:

  • Be great at the basics | I’d operate a clean store, with an easy-to-shop layout with the right adjacencies. I’d  balance a tight core range with great new NPD in the biggest categories, with pricing that recognises the balance between making a profit and frustrating customers. I believe Convenience should be able to command a premium to other channels but the emergence of QSR / Grocery into traditional Convenience heartland categories is evidence to me that shoppers are seeking something different to the ‘traditional’ fuel outlet.
  • Create a point of difference | I’d find a way to separate myself from the competition and be unique. Depending on the competition, I’d try to bring one or more services/offers/experiences that give customers “value”, via these, to come to my store every time. Fresh hot coffee is definitely one of the things I’d target to make sure my store had a competitive advantage – and great taste always wins over price, in my opinion, because it creates its own “value” perception through quality.
  • Be open to feedback and seek it often | I see a world where change is the new norm and those who don’t embrace it fall behind. I reckon seeking feedback and making it easy for people to give feedback, is a great way to stay true to what customers want and to stay ahead of the competition. “If in doubt… do what the customer wants”.

What’s new at Lion? Do you have any new promotions happening? New product launches? Exciting things happening at Lion?

Lion has transitioned some of our flavoured milk range to bottles in Victoria and New South Wales in order to meet growing customer preference for a more convenient format. We have also just launched Dare Cold Pressed Coffee – it’s a premium offering targeting new users, and promotes buying an iced coffee as a credible addition/alternative to the hot coffee. It’s early days but it’s performing really well and I’d encourage everyone to add it to their range!

Contact Lion Customer Service at [email protected] or 1800 000 570.


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