Indie store update
CRT updates its marketing
The "local bloke" is no more at Ruralco
The "local bloke" is no more at Ruralco
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Suppliers help to vote for AIRR's best store and quarter century milestone for rural retailer
HNN Sources
CRT's "Your local bloke" message is being replaced in an era where women's roles in agriculture are acknowledged to be as significant as men's; Yolla Co-op is a highly "progressive" store; and Dave and Cheryl Thomas took over Heathcote Rural Merchandise 25 years ago.

"Local bloke" cut from CRT branding

Ruralco-owned CRT (Combined Rural Traders) branches across Australia will have the "Your Local Bloke" slogan removed. CRT general manager, Greg O'Neil, announced the decision at the group's annual conference recently.

It has already disappeared from corporate advertising and the slogan will now gradually be removed from uniforms and store advertising at 500 locations around Australia as the branding is updated, he said.

Mr O'Neil told conference delegates the word "bloke" was a problem when women were increasingly taking professional roles in agriculture. He said:
It was felt that the word 'bloke' was limiting in today's environment.

Ruralco managing director, Travis Dillon, believes the familiar "Your Local Bloke" message "has had its time". He said:
Your Local Bloke is not a branding you would choose today if you were starting from scratch.

Mr Dillon also said the Ruralco marketing team decided it was time for a refresh and that the slogan change was not motivated by political correctness. He told The Wellington Times:
It's just unfortunate our timing has come around that of which political correctness is in the headlines. It is a discussion that has been going on within the company for years in order to make it more relevant to our customers and CRT members.
The Local Bloke, while it has been part of the business since 1988, it's just not as relevant as it was before ... it's just not contemporary or fits with the profile or our business.

Mr Dillon said it is unlikely the company will create a new slogan for CRT, instead a number of brands around rural Australia will be upgraded and refreshed in what will be rolled out as a staged approach.
Not everyone will have to change overnight, it is a gradual upgrade over the years. In terms of stores, they'll be given a time frame to change it so we don't expect it will be a massive impact to our branches.

However he admitted the news hasn't been well-received by all members of the group, some who have been a part of it prior to the slogan even being introduced. Mr Dillon said:
I think everyone understands we need to have a more contemporary logo and that 'Your Local Bloke' doesn't necessarily represent our customer base anymore, so generally it's all been pretty supportive.

During the past year it acquired "a portfolio of high quality businesses", including five CRT member sites in WA, NSW and Tasmania, with help from a $65 million capital raising a year ago. Mr Dillon said:
We've looked to grow our base by attracting existing member businesses to come over to Ruralco, and we've also acquired businesses not previously part of the network.
AIRR chooses most progressive store

Yolla Co-op in Tasmania has won the award for Most Progressive Store for the second year running, at the Australian Independent Rural Retailers (AIRR) conference. General manager Peter Moore told The Advocate:
This award for the best marketed store is voted on by suppliers around Australia. It's a great honour.

Mr Moore credits Yolla Co-op's success to the relationships staff and management build with suppliers. He said:
We run the largest in-store open day each year, where 60 national suppliers attend

Yolla Co-op runs supplier information sessions and regularly sends staff to mainland Australia or New Zealand for training. Mr Moore explains:
We are heavily into forming good relationships with suppliers. It's that commitment to work with suppliers in partnership and understand their objectives. This is recognition of what we do in the field and store and is a good indication of what we put into the store.

AIRR group sales general manager Peter Lourey said the award was based on driving sales, promotional support, in-store merchandise, service and use of technology, and Yolla Co-op won "fairly resoundingly".
Suppliers spend a lot of money to get in front of the end user and Yolla harnesses that exceptionally well. They really see the worth in partnering with suppliers to bring value to their customers. They're leading the way Australia wide.

AIRR said it has 400 members in the group.
Rural retailers celebrate 25 years

Cheryl and Dave Thomas, owners of Heathcote Rural Merchandise in regional Victoria, have reached the quarter century milestone of operating the business.

In March 1993, they moved from Dandenong to take it over. Cheryl told The McIvor Times that after 25 years, she is unsure if the time has gone fast or slow but sometimes it can be both. She said:
It seems like a very long time when you look back on it, but then again time flies when you're having fun and we sure have had fun.

When the couple took over, the newspaper ran an article in which Dave said they were "looking forward to getting to know the people here". Cheryl said he anticipated correctly that it is what they've enjoyed most about the job.
The most rewarding and enjoyable part for us has been the people - the people you meet every day and what we have learnt from them and are still learning. The relationships you make out of a job like this mean a lot to Dave and I, some of them will last a long time.

Cheryl was hopeful the milestone wasn't going to attract attention. She said:
We were hoping it was going to just drift by!

While Cheryl and Dave have enjoyed their time at Heathcote Rural Merchandise, Cheryl mentioned it hasn't always been smooth sailing.
There have definitely been tough times, it obviously depends on the season, but the whole way through we have tried to stick to the positives and think about the good times because there have been plenty of them.
HNN Sources

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