Australian Training Awards

Case Study: From little things, big things grow

Drakes Supermarkets
2012 Employer of the Year

Picture of Drakes Supermarkets, 2012 Employer of the YearIn 1974, Chief Executive Officer of Drakes Supermarkets, Roger Drake, purchased his first supermarket in a suburb of Adelaide with four employees. Now Roger has nearly 60 supermarkets across South Australia and Queensland which employ 5,500 people. Drakes is now the largest independent grocery retailer in Australia with an annual turnover in excess of $1 billion.

Drakes places high importance on staff training to continually develop and improve its customer service and, importantly, to foster its next generation to ensure future growth. Awarded for this commitment, it was named the Employer of the Year for its excellent training practices.

Roger was delighted with his company’s success at this year’s Australian Training Awards.

“Our win at the Australian Training Awards is a total reflection of the hard work of our talented staff. We are fortunate to enjoy one of the highest longevity of staff in the retail industry, and much of that success can be credited to our unique training practices.

“At Drakes Supermarkets, the training and development of our staff is an intrinsic part of our recruitment and retention strategy.

We support and encourage our people to have long term careers in retail, and take pride in their achievements in the industry.

“We make sure our team know that their role at our company is not just a job, but a lifelong, rewarding career, with many opportunities for personal growth,” Roger said.

Drakes’ recruitment, training and retention strategies all aim to counter the challenges of high turnover of entry level staff in the retail industry. With a registered training organisation arm, the company concentrates on providing nationally recognised training to people who want a long-term career in retail.

Roger’s advice to other employers is to invest in staff training because, with the right skills and development, people simply enjoy their work, remain dependable and interested.

“In addition to our many staff awards programs, each year my wife Wendy and I host an awards luncheon for staff who have reached employment milestones of 10, 20 or 30 years’ service. In 2012 we had in excess of 90 employees receive a gold watch in recognition of this achievement. Today our ‘10 Year Club’ has in excess of 300 inductees who are still employed at Drakes,” he said.

In 2009, 30 of Drakes’ employees completed diplomas as part of the Retail Executive Program – the first in Australia to do so. In August 2010, graduates were recognised at an Industry Forum organised by Service Skills South Australia, and were presented with their certification as a ‘Retail Executive’. This has continued, with a total of 86 Diploma students graduating from the program to date.

The success of the training offered by Drakes is not only demonstrated through its high staff retention levels but also through the low dropout rates and the successful completion rates of its apprentices and trainees, many of whom start from Australian School-based Apprenticeships.

“Fostering the next generation in our business is a key strategy for our future growth. It’s nationally recognised training that helps us achieve this,” he said.

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