Although it’s surrounded by the chaotic redevelopment of William Street, the Herdsman’s new city store has already made an impression. Aimée Sargent reports.
FOR more than 30 years, food retailer the Herdsman has been an institution in the western suburbs of Perth.
The company, founded by Tony Suvaljko and brothers Dennis and Lou Cerinich, has traded under different monikers – Herdsman Growers Market and Herdsman Fresh Essentials – and last month unveiled its latest creation in the heart of the CBD.
The expansion comes almost two years after the company shelved plans to open a store in the Claremont Quarter, which Mr Fraser was quoted at the time as saying was too risky given the economic downturn at the time.
Located at one40william, the new Herdsman store is aimed squarely at time-poor city workers, which is reflected in the portion sizes and streamlined concept.
The Herdsman chief executive Jim Fraser told Gusto that the initial idea was drafted five years ago as part of the company’s growth plan.
“We had a couple of formats in mind, but certainly the city appealed when we first heard of the William Street development three years ago,” Mr Fraser says.
“We saw it as an opportunity that was certainly worth exploring to the fullest.”
The Herdsman executive team engaged Sydney-based brand and design consultants Landini Associates to develop what Mr Fraser says is a “world-class fit-out” inspired by trips overseas to like-for-like destinations. What eventuated was a completely different concept to the main Churchlands store.
“While the product range is typical Herdsman, the layout, the size of the store and the merchandise is very different,” he says.
“It’s very CBD-centric; there’s a lot of single serves as opposed to family sized meals.
“We’ve gone out of our way to design some products that are grab and go, food for now, as well as for the evening meal.”
Mr Fraser says that while the evening trading hours work well, not being able to open before 8am is restrictive and the company believes opportunities exists in the hour after 7am.
Originating in the late 1970s as a fruit and vegetable grocer, the Herdsman brand has now diversified to include a butcher, fresh fish and a bakery. There are also regular in-store events and healthy eating campaigns targeted at local schools.
Mr Fraser says the marketing of the new store was predominantly through radio advertising, backed up by leaflet drops in the surrounding area. An unintended, but welcome, outcome of this was the tag-team effect back to the Churchlands location.
“Funnily enough, we’ve noticed a spin-off of raising the profile of the Herdsman – there are curious people coming back to the original store to see where we were at these days, or alternatively they were coming to have a look for the first time,” he says.
Key employees of the Churchlands store were promoted to manage the one40william store, ensuring brand continuity. Yet Mr Fraser says the company wanted the city store to “march to the beat of its own drum”.
“It’s a CBD store, it’s very much driven by fashion and we decided to focus as much as we could on this and make the store as aspirational as we could,” he says.
“We wanted a young ‘joie de vivre’ profile when we were recruiting, but by the same token we wanted some experience in there as well.”
And as for opening more stores, Mr Fraser says he wants to get one40william bedded down first, but if the right opportunity presented itself, “we’d be foolish not to seriously consider it”.