Manager conference goes off with a bang!

It’s winter, which at St. Pierre’s means it’s manager conference season!
After the second day of our 2020 conference was called off due to a COVID-19 lockdown, this was our first full conference in two years – and it was great to get everyone together!

Day 1, Tuesday 6 July, saw about 100 people attend, including all the head office staff, area managers and most shop managers. (Day 2, without the head office staff, had 75 attendees). The venue was the beautiful Allely Estate, and even the crisp weather north of Auckland couldn’t cool the warm atmosphere.

The conference theme was “Setting Challenging Goals”, and the morning session began with a particularly striking goal: A store manager presenting how he, at age 41, took up Muay Thai kickboxing to train for a live fight with an opponent 20 years younger! After just four months of training, the bout was in May this year. While the judges awarded a unanimous points decision to his opponent, the manager showed great technical skill and determination, refusing to let the age gap show.

The powerful emotions continued to flow, as Perry, Nick and Costa talked about their family history, from a small Greek island, to Bulgaria, surviving World War II, then to Athens, and on to NZ. After settling in Wellington, the family opened a fish shop on Cuba St – which to this day is a popular St. Pierre’s location! – succeeding in the food business after many trials and much hard work over the decades. Their journey provided powerful inspiration to everyone present, peppered with humorous anecdotes about life in Wellington which had the audience roaring with laughter!

A particular highlight was the prizegiving, recognising outstanding shop managers, area managers and head office staff. Store partners who achieved great results included Yohanes in Rotorua, Xie in Queenstown Central, and Nan and Art in Invercargill – well done all! Support staff who were recognised included area manager Lili, Sayaka in logistics, Rakel in marketing, and James in project management. Congratulations guys!

The first day also featured presentations from each head office team member about the new developments and challenges ahead in their fields, showcasing the dynamism and creativity which drives the company. From IT to marketing to people development, everyone is focused on improving the customer experience, showing from many perspectives how we are a ‘people-first partnership.’

Finally, it wasn’t all totally serious. The first day ended with a 90-minute team building session from Team Up events, setting creative, artistic and mental challenges for random groups of eight staff to solve together. Everyone took on the challenges, which ranged from the serious (houses of cards, yoga and ballet poses) to the silly (passing rubber bands between straws held in your mouth?!?), in the process learning plenty about the value of communication and teamwork. Enjoy the pics and videos below! As we always say – great things happen when we work together! We can’t wait to see what’s next – see you soon everyone!

Bombay new store opening!

You might have heard that our new Bombay shop is open for business!
The sushi department opened on Thursday 3 June, and Bento Bowl a week later on 10 June.

The staff have also got up and running brilliantly. Led by new partner Tony Shen and supported by area manager Akiko and Bento Bowl manager Keiko, the crew had 500 free packs of sushi ready to hand out well before the 12 noon giveaway on 3 June… and just as well too, because despite the freebies to come and threatening weather outside, the shop was crammed with locals keen to buy their favourite sushi taste!

Tony and his team ready to go!
Nick warming up for his opening speech!
Bento Bowl manager Keiko helping out, handing out dango (sweet rice ball) samples

Bombay is a really interesting initiative, because it’s one of our few shops aiming mostly for people passing through. Project manager James commented that

“We’ve really worked hard to give the Bombay shop a strong visual presence. The prominent signage and corner site makes our brand stand out among other quick-service food outlets. The big windows draw people into the spacious interior, where customers can see the menu boards and product displays at a glance. Then they see the little details like the graffiti design wall and range of seating options, making them want to stay longer and come back.

Customer feedback and sales numbers have been great so far. With traffic volumes increasing, and our distinctive food and interior space, we believe that Bombay St. Pierre’s will more and more be a popular destination for people to take a break, or just grab and go. We are sure that sales will continue to grow strongly.”

Congratulations to James, Cris, Foti and the fit out team for such a great job!

Floor to ceiling windows wrap around two sides of the building, inviting customers to come in and check out…
…the food and interior, featuring the graffiti wall.

Bombay is a small village on State Highway 1, about 30-45 minutes (in good traffic…) south of central Auckland and an hour north of Hamilton. It’s the ideal place to take a break when heading to the Waikato or Coromandel beaches, but until now, there have been few healthy food options. The shop interior features a graffiti wall corner, providing a lively edge to the atmosphere, as well as outdoor seating to relax in during summer road trips.

Outdoor seating provides a nice option on summer days

Our shop is in a new motorway service centre, with KFC, Coffee Club and more food outlets to come, also featuring the first electric vehicle charger in the area. We’ve got the prime corner site, opposite KFC and the Z service station, with a big sushi hut sign visible even before you turn off the motorway.

The shop has been busy right from opening day, with lots of people on the road stopping by for their favourite sushi fix, as well as tradies and farm workers calling in for a good solid lunch. Happily for them, Bento Bowl is also now open and serving our famous authentic Japanese hot meals, perfect for fuelling a hard day’s work. The shop is also open into the evenings, providing locals and travellers alike with new meal options for classic hot dinners and healthy sushi meals. So, if you’re driving up to Auckland, or just visiting the Pukekohe area, be sure to stop by and see Tony and the team. And here’s to more interesting milestones across the St. Pierre’s Group!

The queue before opening stretched around the corner!
The locals were not just there for the sushi giveaway!
Hungry tradies getting their fill!
Proud partner Tony in a rare quiet moment!
The locals came in many different vehicles!

Future sushi pros!

It’s the school holidays around NZ, which means that our popular sushi classes are back!

These holidays, we’re running them in three shops, in Oteha Valley in the north of Auckland, the new Ormiston shop in the south of Auckland, and in Hornby in Christchurch.

The Ormiston classes were all booked out on the first day, so we dropped by to see what the fuss was about. 12 local kids per class packed the St. Pierre’s island table, keeping manager Lena and her team on their toes! Lena commented that

“It was my first time running a sushi class, so I was a little nervous. But my team had all the ingredients ready to go, and the kids were really keen and enjoying themselves, so I had a lot of fun too.”

Each class takes about 30-45 minutes, including an intro to sushi, getting the kids kitted out in gloves and spray oil, spreading rice, choosing ingredients, laying them out, rolling, and packing. Oh, and Lena provided the added bonus of a salmon aburi blowtorch demonstration and mochi dessert. Fire and sweets – what a great way to end the class!

Big moments at ten seconds and right at the end

The smiles on the kids and adults’ faces told the story – it looked like everyone had a great time. Their sushi pack to take home and photos of the day will have provided many great memories for the whole family, and with luck kept them coming back during the holidays and beyond. Shop turnover was also up for the day, a nice little bonus after everyone’s hard work.

Find out more about this holiday’s classes here! And if you’d like to host classes at your store, please talk to your area manager! Head office can provide the story cards and help to get going – you just need the energy to keep kids engaged!

Finally, a big thanks to area managers Yovina and Kazuyo for supporting their store managers in running the classes! Great things happen when we work together –we can’t wait to see what’s next!