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Andrew Baker on the Top 5 Reasons to Join Indepet

As a founding Indepet Shareholder, Andrew Baker of Pet Superstores shares his reasons for joining the professional pet care buying and marketing group.

As a founding Indepet Shareholder, Andrew Baker of Pet Superstores shares his reasons for joining the professional pet care buying and marketing group

Since that timely decision to create Indepet back in 2010, it’s been fascinating to see our original vision of independent wealth and financial security, gradually become a reality.

From my own experience with Pet Superstores in Queensland, the idea of forging a low-cost buying and marketing group – which could be equally owned and controlled by independents like myself – has long appealed for several reasons.

The first is about regaining control. I liken it to renting a house. You can continue with the same routine and not get anywhere, or you can bite the bullet and buy! Once you buy, you soon realise the benefit of being in control. You take the same risk; you maximise the reward. And let’s face it. It makes a lot more sense to develop and build your own business than someone else’s.

The second relates to the power of branding. With Indepet, I have the ability to promote my company as the respected, trusted and professional retailer that it is. That core strength, combined with the Indepet group philosophies and brand attributes, makes a compelling case to our client base. We get double the branding impact, maybe more.

The way I see it, building a recognisable retail brand – whether its IGA, Mitre 10 or Indepet – reassures customers that they are buying from a competitive buying group or retail chain.

The third attraction for me was gaining major alliances with certain suppliers while still being able to source through wholesalers who have traditionally supported us.

With this flexibility, we can take full advantage of extended terms and other incentives offered by suppliers. In our experience, this approach can add measurable improvements to our bottom line, even before factoring in the benefit of collated procurement for strategic reasons.

In fact, Indepet is the only pet care group in Australia or New Zealand that independent retailers can buy into today – subject to meeting selection criteria – and reap immediate commercial gains. Only the Indepet model offers ‘net-net’ pricing, which means 100% of all profits are distributed equally among Shareholders.

Frankly, the idea of giving up valuable margin to feed a corporate shareholder dividend structure – as is the case under certain franchising agreements – is in conflict with my independent business sense.

Fourth, the group’s potential to ‘pull’ sales through at the selling end also made Indepet very attractive.

In this regard, Indepet is developing a network of premium, mostly large-scale independent retailers who understand the need to have caring, knowledgeable people in the sales and service roles on the shop floor.

Conversely, many of our competitors still rely on rock-bottom buying prices and the old ‘push’ marketing approach to hit their sales targets. This is one reason we’ve received so much support from the industry’s leading suppliers.

It’s all about trust and respect for the three groups involved – the supplier, the retailer and the pet owner. It’s got to be a three-way partnership with something of value for all three parties.

Fifth, a focus on organic growth was a key attraction of the group.

Indepet is not interested in putting dots on a map for the sake of it. We have the view that it’s better to hold out for the larger, premium-based independents to come on board. More important to create a group of like- minded independents, one that’s cohesive, unified around a common purpose – and even a little bit exclusive.

Referring back to our Queensland experience, a focus on organic growth has helped us expand sales during the two years of trading as an Indepet Shareholder. We’ve steadily consolidated our position while our competitors have been in a continuous state of flux, due to the various mergers, buyouts and acquisitions during that period.

Interestingly, some things never change. Now there’s a new surge among certain corporates wanting to buy out successful independent retailers. This shows just how much they envy the independent model. It’s also an admission that they can’t create it themselves. All they can do is crudely offer cash and hope for a stress sale.

The acquisitive nature of the corporates also tells me they lack the flexibility, adaptability and endeavour to succeed with a nimble low-cost structure, a defining attribute of the Indepet group.

*first published in Inside Indepet September 2012