Interview with Safa de Valois – Commercial Director at C&I Media

Safa de Valois is well-known in the Petrol and Convenience Industry. With seven years experience in the convenience aspect with C&I Magazine, Safa is able to offer a unique perspective on the industry.  I recently caught up with Safa to chat about the industry…

Tell us a bit about yourself, Safa.  How long have you been with C&I Media? What is your role at C&I Media?

I’ve been working in the publishing game for over 22 years. Mostly in the arts world – some of the titles are “State of the Arts”, “Arts and Medicine”, “Limelight” and “Australian Art Collector”.

February 2018 will be seven years with C&I Media. I become a partner four years ago. I am the Publisher of C&I Magazine and the Commercial Director for C&I Media.

What is the best thing about working in the convenience space?

It is never boring – there are so many things changing every day in the Convenience, Impulse and Petrol Industry. The people are wonderful. These people I work with move into new companies or into new roles, so I’m building new relationships all the time.

There are new “NPD” launches every month. There are new companies, new brands and new products coming into the market. It’s one of the few industries that never sleeps. It’s not called FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) for no reason!!!

ServoPro is all about helping Independent Petrol and Convenience Retailers in Australia. You would see a large range of convenience stores, from the majors to smaller players. Where do you think the Independents should be focusing their resources to maintain and attract new business?

I think they should be doing the things that the big chains can’t do:

  1. Knock-out service
  2. Fine tune the product range for the local area.
  3. Sell the stuff that otherwise can’t be sourced locally.
  4. Become an expert in foodservice.

Petrol and convenience stores are changing rapidly. How do you think convenience stores will look in, say, 15 years time? What sort of products and services will they be offering that are not being offered today?

I doubt that the digital age will have any negative effects on convenience stores. But I do think digital marketing represents some wonderful promotional opportunities.

I think that there will be a bigger move towards healthier options as well as more indulgent options. We will be providing service to a lot more electric vehicles. I think fully prepped home meals may at last find a place in the industry. We may see considerable growth in non-fuel stores as well as grocery players moving more into convenience.

With the arrival of Amazon, and other convenience retailers and wholesalers looking to offer their products online, do you think this will change the way convenience stores purchase the products they sell?

I don’t think Amazon or online purchasing will affect convenience at all and I doubt whether convenience stores can provide the economies of scale to make online retail business viable. However, there is a great opportunity to achieve economies in the supply chain through online purchasing by retail stores. Amazon may play a part in that. So may the supermarket majors.

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