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Good Governance and Sustainable Retail Stores

Outback Stores provides a structured and sustainable approach to improving the local economy of remote communities. Over the past 12 months we have been working closely with a number of store committees on strategic ways to re-invest store profits whilst also seeking additional funding to improve Infrastructure and resources.

Papunya in a strong position 12 months on

Since partnering with Outback Stores in mid-2019 the Papunya Community Store has seen reduced prices and improved profit returns and has now further consolidated its financial position. In addition, Store Directors have made a collective decision to reinvest a proportion of profits back into the community for the benefit of all.

In late 2019 Directors decided to purchase and deliver 70 new refrigerators: one for each house in the community and surrounding homelands at a cost of almost $70,000. As most houses in the community and the surrounding homelands did not have a working refrigerator the gesture was greatly appreciated by residents, just in time for the scorching Central Desert summer where temperatures routinely soar above 40 degrees.

Papunya resident Selwyn Nelson said, “People can now keep bullock meat, camel meat and feed cold. Good one that everyone got a new fridge!”

At Christmas the Store Directors decided to give back to its customers who had supported the business throughout the year by gifting each household a LCD TV, Sony PlayStation 4, and a $300 gift card for residents to purchase food and toys for the festive period, at a cost of approximately $1,000 per house.

“We now have a really strong group of directors here in Papunya. Together we have decided to reinvest more profits back into the community for things that are important and help everyone. We are planning to do more for the community in the future,” said Chairperson Dalton MacDonald.

Traditional Owner for the region Alison Anderson is positive about the direction that the store committee has been taking since working with Outback Stores over the last 12 months.

“It’s been great having Outback Stores working closely with the community. Initially we saw prices come down in the store and now we are seeing financial results continue to improve. The Store Directors are showing great leadership and governance by making strong decisions for the present and the future,” said Alison.

Solar projects a bright idea

Outback Stores successfully applied for $495,000 of funding through the Aboriginal Benefit Account (ABA) on behalf of Beswick, Jilkminggan, Engawala, Bulman, Pigeon Hole, Santa Teresa, Titjikala and Epenarra stores for installation of solar panels.

The project has made an immediate impact by cleanly and sustainably reducing one of the largest costs of doing business in remote communities. It’s expected that in the first year this will reduce costs across the eight stores by $175,000. The project also supported Indigenous employment throughout the installation phase.

“This could be the difference between the Store making a profit for the community and running at a loss. The community will benefit from the investment for years to come,” said Outback Stores Commercial Manager Troy Criddle.

“Solar is the way forward particularly in remote areas where costs are so high. We are also anticipating approval for $1.3 million in ABA funding later in 2020 so the additional 15 stores that we manage on behalf of communities in the Northern Territory can also reap the benefits of a solar installation over the next 12 months.”

*The ABA is a special account that benefits Aboriginal people living in the NT, established as part of the arrangements under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, also known as the Land Rights Act. The ABA receives monies from the Commonwealth based on the value of royalties generated from mining on Aboriginal land in the NT.

Nauiyu and Outback Stores working together

Outback Stores was approached by the Nauiyu Nambiyu Aboriginal Corporation (NNAC) in mid-2019 to manage its store after its service provider withdrew from the community.

After consultation with the directors of NNAC, Outback Stores set to work with the community. Since then, the working relationship between both groups has gone from strength to strength.

Wayne Martin is the Area Manager for the store and has been working closely with NNAC.

“The directors made it really clear on what they wanted to see from their business: good quality affordable fresh fruit and vegetables, local people employed with an opportunity to grow and develop skills and long term store managers who would fit in well with the community. I’m proud to say as a team we have made solid inroads in these important areas over the last year. On top of that the store has made a small profit which the directors have committed to reinvesting into the store,” said Wayne.

“The manner that Outback Stores came in to help us at short notice was professional and really appreciated by the community and there was minimal interruption to the store trading,” said Mark Casey, Chair of the Nauiyu Store Board.

“The relationship between management and staff is great. Since the change in management staff attendance has improved and we have local people like Kaitlyn taking on more and more responsibility in the store. The managers Bruno and now Alex are great ambassadors for Outback Stores. They have been accepted well into the community.”

“The store is always stocked well, ranging in the store is good, people are staying in community to shop. The store was well stocked during COVID-19 community closures, so the managers did well to keep the store trading, “said Mark.

“Financially the store is doing well, things are on the up and up. Communication between Management and the Board is great. Both parties are kept well informed. The Board of Nauiyu Store is looking forward to a long relationship with Outback Stores.”

Warmun re-invests for the future

The Warmun Roadhouse is located on the Great Northern Highway between the closest regional centres in Kununurra and Broome in the Kimberley region in Western Australia. As the highway
is the only sealed road within the vast region, the roadhouse is a major stop for travellers and locals alike.

Owned by Canila Pty Ltd, Outback Stores have been managing the business on its behalf since 2013. 100% of the operating profit generated from the Roadhouse goes back to Canila. With the support of Outback Stores, the Directors have been strategically re-investing profits with the goal of improving and further growing their business.

In 2018 after much deliberation Directors signed off works to significantly upgrade the internals of the roadhouse that included upgrading fridges, fittings, fixtures and signage as well as a better range to improve the shopping experience for local customers and tourists alike. The cost of the project totalled $160,000. The following year the Directors also reinvested an additional $300,000 of profits in the installation of a 24-hour fuel system and upgrades to six of the motel rooms. The work has made an immediate impact with numerous positive online reviews from travellers.

Future work is also planned with the amenities block in the workers quarters to be renovated in late 2020.

“It’s fantastic to see the store Directors having the confidence in their business to reinvest the profits. Raising the standard of the infrastructure has certainly made a big difference and has supported return on investment,” said Outback Stores Operations Manager Matt Pawelski.

Madeline Purdie is the Chairperson for Canila Pty Ltd.

“It’s important for us to re-invest back into the business to help it stay strong and grow for the future of our community.’’

“It’s great that we also have promotions on fresh fruit and vegetables and other alternative foods for healthy eating and living.”

The roadhouse is now a one stop shop providing self-contained accommodation, powered and unpowered campsites, a mini supermarket retail offer, takeaway menu and dining area, round the clock access to fuel and even facilities for electric cars to recharge.