How Independent Retailers Can Differentiate Themselves From the Pack

Sep 9, 2019

Independent retail plays a critical role in the Australian business landscape, offering consumers diversity of choice, and often incubating innovative and emerging brands before they hit the mainstream. With so many businesses itching to get a foothold in the market, it’s little surprise that the session – What Some of Australia’s Best Independent Retailers do Differently – was so keenly attended at this year’s Naturally Good expo.

Three of Australia’s most successful leaders in the natural, organic, healthy and specialty products, provided invaluable insights as to what has made each of their companies stellar performers.

Narinder Singh Badhan, CEO, QE Foodstores

Narinder Singh Badhan is the CEO of QE Foodstores. The business also stocks specialty items such as organic products, developed a vision to produce the best store when he was just 19 years old. Having moved to Sydney from New Zealand, he initially slept in his car and worked 16-hour days to save enough money to establish his first business. QE now has 9 stores and employs 60 staff.

Develop a vision – I engaged a business coach who helped me clarify a vision for the enterprise. I started sharing the vision with everyone I knew from staff to friends. Once I put the vision out there, it started to become a reality and a lot of great stuff started to come my way with suppliers.
Be driven by your customers’ happiness – To this day I’m inspired by my customer’s happy faces. Let their satisfaction drive you to make your business the best it can be.
Create opportunities for staff – I want my employees to grow with the company so I do what I can to ensure it’s an engaging place to work which they won’t want to leave in a hurry.

Terry Hughes, CEO, Go Vita

With Terry Huges at the helm, Go Vita is Australia’s largest health food group. What began as a small group of passionate retailers in the early 1980s has now grown and developed into a successful end to end distribution and retail business. There are now more than 150 retail health stores across Australia, representing 25 per cent of all health food outlets in the nation.

Employ smart staff – In a competitive market it’s essential that you employ people who are bright and have loads of potential who can help you take your business to the next level which is what we’ve done at Go Vita. Really take your time to select the right people, don’t just go for a quick fix to fill a spot.
Build momentum – Always be looking to see how you can create momentum. Analyse, celebrate successes and strive to continually improve.
Appeal to Millennials – This demographic is now driving purchases in many sectors including the natural products space. Make sure you’re active on social media and take time to explain your values and backstory on your website. Millennials are particularly interested in ethical companies with transparent values who are operating with integrity.


Julie Mathers, Founder and CEO, Flora & Fauna

Australia’s largest cruelty free and vegan online shop featuring eco-friendly products began as a concept in Julie’s mind in July 2014. The online store was launched just five months later with 30 brands and around 500 products in beauty and skin care. The business has grown substantially since then having added home, fashion and health products to the mix.

Have strong values – I don’t employ anyone in the business who doesn’t share our vision of wanting to make the planet and environment a better place. It’s not enough for a business just to stand for something in particular, the people working there need to live it as well in order to impart authenticity.
Operate with kindness – Being kind to yourself, staff and customers goes a long way and helps to foster a positive culture.
Develop your skills – Always be looking to build the culture of the company by up-scaling the skills of employees. Encourage others to learn, teach them new things and ask them their opinions. It can only benefit the business.

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