Retailing is to Alty’s taste

A WORKING lifetime in retail led Barry Alty to the CEO’s chair with Foodland Associated Limited.

Ironically for the New Zealand-born native, FAL’s major holdings outside WA are all in the land of the long white cloud.

However, Mr Alty was not behind the New Zealand push. That was the work of his FAL predecessor.

FAL owns 100 per cent of Progressive Enterprises Limited, which holds 26 per cent of the New Zealand food market, and Farmers Deka which is New Zealand’s largest department store chain.

“Between them they bring New Zealand $2.3 million in revenues,” Mr Alty said.

He said the four or five hour time difference between WA and New Zealand – depending on daylight saving – did add a degree of difficulty.

“Travelling east is never easy,” Mr Alty said.

“However, I think these days business is truly global. People have to be prepared to deal across both geographical and time boundaries.”

Despite its New Zealand holdings, FAL has no immediate plans to expand into the eastern States.

“Even so, we do keep a watching brief on what is happening on the east coast,” Mr Alty said.

“We look for any opportunities that will add to shareholder value.

“However, the opportunities are pretty limited. There are not many players in our business these days.”

Mr Alty started in retail after finishing school, joining Woolworths New Zealand as a management trainee.

He spent seventeen years with the supermarket giant, finishing as national merchandise controller food and consumables before coming to Australia in 1978.

Mr Alty joined Target Queensland as a zone manager.

“That was a bit of a change, going from food merchandising into general merchandising,” he said.

Mr Alty left Target to join Arawa Enterprises Limited on Bouganville Island.

Arawa was 70 per cent owned by the Bouganville Copper Foundation, a philanthropic trust associated with the Bouganville Copper Mine.

After finishing a three year contract with the company, Mr Alty returned to Australia, turning again to retail before branching out into consultancy work in 1989.

He initially came to WA on a temporary basis.

“I left the wife and the boat in Queensland and rented digs in South Perth,” Mr Alty said.

“I ended up staying here.”

Mr Alty was brought over to WA for the purported ‘mega-merger’ that was expected to bring Foodland, Davids Holdings and several other retail players together.

However, the mega-merger fell to pieces in 1993 and, by the end of 1994, Mr Alty was in the CEO chair at FAL.

Mr Alty said FAL would be very careful about any expansion plans it pursued, particularly in light of what befell its erstwhile merger partner Davids.

“Davids took on too much too soon,” he said.

“If you bite off more than you can chew, you’re going to end up with indigestion.

“Besides, we have a pretty strong group here.

“We have a good business in WA. Action is in a strong growth phase and the New Zealand businesses are both performing well,” he said.

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