STRAIGHT TALK: NESPRESSO GM 'WALKS THE TALK'

Written on the 22 September 2015 by Jenna Rathbone

STRAIGHT TALK: NESPRESSO GM 'WALKS THE TALK'

NESPRESSO was brewed from a vision - to enable anyone to create a perfect espresso coffee, on their own, at home.  Today, this vision is a reality, with the business spanning across 62 countries with more than 10,500 employees.

General Manager of Nespresso Australia & Oceania Loïc Réthoré (pictured) says the strength of the brand, the quality of coffee and the company's unique service offering will see it grow even further.

He says the ultimate vision for Nespresso is to secure a place as the preferred coffee brand in Australia.

"Coffee is at the heart of the Nespresso brand, but consumer pleasure is truly the brand's purpose," says Réthoré.

"Through all areas of the business, we aspire to deliver the ultimate coffee experiences to our consumers. Whether it be through expanding our retail presence or continuing to grow and improve the recycling process and experience - the next five years is continuing to please our customers through exceptional experiences, in cup and out.

"It is through this, and the work of my talented team, that I believe we will continue to secure our place as the preferred coffee brand in Australia."

Réthoré talks to Sydney Business News about the evolving coffee market, Nespresso's focus on sustainability, and challenges and opportunities moving forward for the business.

What are three key leadership strengths you bring to your role at Nespresso and how do they assist in the successful running of the business?

The first one is definitely my focus on the Nespresso team, and my belief that they are at the heart of what we do. Ultimately, it takes a workforce to build a successful business so they are my most critical partners and stakeholders. Open communication, enablement of people and a focus on their training and inclusion in the direction of the business is of utmost importance to me.

My second would have to be an unwavering commitment to customer service excellence. This is a leadership imperative at Nespresso, given almost 70 per cent of our team in Australia work in customer facing roles.

The relationship between Nespresso and the consumer is an enduring one. Every day we cultivate direct and personal relationships with our vast community of consumers, allowing us to continually anticipate their expectations and evolve to meet them.

Finally, I'd say my adaptability to cultural diversity. On a personal level, I have been involved in the Nespresso business in more than one market, hence why my adaptable leadership style has been integral to my success. At Nespresso our network spans 62 countries with more than 10,500 employees, providing a lot of opportunity to interact with talented employees globally. Adapting my leadership to different business styles, local coffee preferences and evolving marketplaces has been vital for me.

Do you have a leadership mantra?

"Walk the talk" is certainly a key principle of leadership that is important to me. I believe that leaders have different tools to communicate throughout their organisations but the most powerful one is actually to lead by example.

Since commencing your role at Nespresso, what changes or new concepts have you initiated and how have they impacted business?

We receive great feedback from Club Members regarding their Boutique experiences, and just as much feedback requesting more across the country. We wanted to deliver on this demand but also come up with a more innovative retail format that would help us test it in retail locations where we didn't have a presence until now. This is why we introduced the new Pop Up Boutique concept which launched this year in Sydney Airport, Miranda, Chatswood and Castle Hill Shopping Centres.

These Boutiques are primarily located in capital city centres. By expanding our footprint through the Pop Up Boutiques, we will be able to bring that experience to more people. We see it as a way to build Club Member loyalty, which has been critical to Nespresso's success in recent years.

If the Pop Up Boutiques prove popular, we will consider opening additional ones in other locations in future.

Nespresso is dedicated to improving its sustainability performance - how do you achieve this and are there any further plans or initiatives to further improve sustainability?

Nespresso globally is heavily focused on sustainability. We have been working with farmers, environmentalists, researchers and more to measure and manage our greatest areas of social impact. Which ultimately, globally comes down to three areas:

Coffee - In 2003, Nespresso launched its AAA Sustainable Quality Program, a ground breaking partnership with the leading environmental NGO, the Rainforest Alliance. Working with over 63,000 farmers, we are providing growers with support, training, financing and technical assistance through a network of over 300 agronomists to improve sustainability, quality and productivity of their coffee produce. The growers who are a part of the program are also paid, on average, a premium of 30 per cent to 40 per cent above market prices for their beans.

Carbon - Another part of our strategy is the reduction of Nespresso's carbon footprint. From 2009 to 2013, we have reduced by 20 per cent the carbon footprint of a cup of Nespresso coffee. Insights show that machine use and coffee growing are bigger footprint contributors than packaging. This is why Nespresso has been and is currently continuing to design greener machines. Since 2009, auto stand-by or auto-off switches have been incorporated into all new machine ranges. Intergraded operational energy efficiencies have also been put into place in factories and supply chains.

Capsule Recycling - The most pertinent in Australia, given we are not a coffee farming region, and don't have the operational footprint that we do in farming and manufacturing markets. This is for us, the most important sustainability pillar in Australia and an area that we are continuing to drive and resource with exciting announcements to be made soon.

To date, we've had great fundamentals established.  Each Nespresso Boutique, including the Pop Up Boutiques have a capsule recycling collection point for our Australian Club Members since 2010. In 2014, we became a founding partner of TerraCycle, a global organisation that assists with the collection and upcycling of waste matter that doesn't typically get dealt with through existing in-home processes supplied by local Governments. This partnership has added 175 additional collection points around the country, and the network is rapidly growing. This has been a good start, with sustainable solutions in place and strong foundations on which we will significantly build on next year.

Globally at the end of 2014, Nespresso's recycling capacity was at over 80 per cent, surpassing our initial commitment to triple recycling capacity between 2009 and 2013. Locally, we have strong, exciting plans to significantly boost recycling points and improve the processes behind the capsules end of life.

Are there any challenges you see facing your industry over the next five years and how do you plan on overcoming these?

Nespresso is strongly positioned in the most dynamic and fastest growing segment of the global coffee market, so we continue to put our focus on providing unrivalled coffee experiences. The strength of the brand, the quality of our coffees and our unique service offering provide us with exciting growth opportunities to further engage discerning coffee lovers.

The overall portioned coffee category continues to demonstrate a positive trend in terms of both volume and value and the growth potential remains substantial. We will continue to build on awareness of the Nespresso brand and the strength of our offering to expand our business in Australia.

What do you ultimately hope to achieve as Nespresso GM of Australia & Oceania and what is your ultimate vision for the direction of the business?

Coffee is at the heart of the Nespresso brand, but consumer pleasure is truly the brand's purpose. Through all areas of the business, we aspire to deliver the ultimate coffee experiences to our consumers. Whether it be through expanding our retail presence or continuing to grow and improve the recycling process and experience - the next five years is continuing to please our customers through exceptional experiences, in cup and out.

It is through this, and the work of my talented team, that I believe we will continue to secure our place as the preferred coffee brand in Australia.


Author: Jenna Rathbone
About: Jenna Rathbone is a Queensland-based journalist who writes on a range of issues including business and property affairs and social issues.
Connect via: Twitter

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