Hirono (Napier)

Welcome to the next in our series about St. Pierre’s assistant managers!

Today we’re in Hawke’s Bay wine country, in Napier, to visit a young lady called Hirono in the Bento Bowl department. Hirono is from Japan, with her hometown near Japan’s ancient imperial capital of Kyōto. The story of how she came to be 2IC at Napier involves some happy accidents – but we’re very glad she’s here!

Hirono came to NZ in 2019. Her plan was simple: to study at an English school in the Hawke’s Bay for three months, work flat out for seven months, and then travel around NZ for the remaining two months of her one-year working holiday visa.

Hirono enjoying the wide-open Hawke’s Bay scenery!

“But then, while working at St. Pierre’s Napier, I met my partner and fell in love. Suddenly, all I wanted to do was stay here.”

Hirono worked for the rest of her working holiday, but then the only option was a temporary visa, which did not allow work. Sadly, she had to leave the company. After long months of waiting, she obtained a partnership work visa, and was welcomed back to St. Pierre’s Napier in February 2021. Takashi and Julie were clearly happy, because in four short months she was promoted to assistant manager!

“Becoming an assistant manager has been hard. The responsibility is different to being a crew member, and I do feel pressure. There is so much to remember, I sometimes panic a little. But we have a great team in Napier and they always help me through any problems!”

A great way to spend a day off – at the beach!

While very happy to be living in NZ, Hirono has set herself high goals.

“I’m trying to save as much as possible for my residence visa application. It’s expensive, but worth it. I love the relaxed lifestyle and tolerant atmosphere in NZ. My partner and I really want to stay here as NZ permits same-sex marriage and supports IVF treatment so we can start a family. I’m really excited to be building a future in NZ.”

Life has taken Hirono in unexpected directions, but at St. Pierre’s, we’re proud to have amazing people like her on our team. We have a strong culture of being “people first”, supporting each other as we set challenging goals. Hirono has already achieved a lot, and we’re sure she will continue to reach new heights! Here’s to everyone across the St. Pierre’s Group aiming high!

Training for Success!

This post is a little different! It’s not about one of our people – it’s about all of you!

You’ve probably heard about the online training programme we launched in June this year. This post is the first in a series talking about training, starting with why it’s important.

St. Pierre’s is growing fast. We now have nearly 70 locations, four departments (sushi, Bento Bowl, K10 and seafood) and around 800 staff. Apart from in 2020, we’ve opened at least five shops every years for a few years now. So how do we make sure that when a customer walks into a St. Pierre’s group shop – any department, anywhere in NZ – they get a high quality product and great service?

We often talk about how we put people first at St. Pierre’s. To put people first, we have to help you develop the skills you need to do the job well! That’s where training comes in. It’s not fair to expect you, our staff, to work things out yourself. To date, we’ve had shop managers do most training – but they are very busy people. That’s why we’ve developed an online training course to take the load off the managers and give everyone a high base level of knowledge.

Of course, the best way to learn something is hands-on – be it in the kitchen, rolling sushi, making bowls or customer service. But there’s so much to remember! Online training gives you a head start, by helping you understand – based on ideas such as the company history and aims – why we do what we do. Then, by showing you how our most experienced staff work, you can understand the best and most efficient way to do daily tasks.

In this way, we want to provide every staff member with a high base level of knowledge. Building on that, you can use your unique skills and creativity to deliver amazing products and service that the people in your community will love.

In the next article, we’ll look at what our training programme is, including the platform and content we’ve provided to date. There’s big news coming soon, so look out for it!

Assistant manager conference: A huge day out!

It’s winter, which at St. Pierre’s means it’s conference season!
After the second day of our 2020 manager conference was called off due to a COVID-19 lockdown, 2021 brought our first full conferences in two years. It has been great to get everyone together!

Tuesday 3 August was the big day for the assistant managers, with about 70 people attending, including many head office staff, area managers and most shop assistant managers. The venue was the beautiful Allely Estate in Auckland’s north west. Unlike the manager conference, the sun was shining, but the atmosphere was just as warm!

Many assistant managers travelled a long way to the conference, but everyone was engaged right from the start!

Like the manager conference, the theme was “Setting Challenging Goals”, inspiring the managers to aim high. The morning session began with a presentation about one of our store managers taking up Muay Thai kickboxing – at age 41 – for a live fight with an opponent 20 years younger! The powerful emotions continued to flow as Perry, Nick and Costa talked about their family history, from a small Greek island, to Romania, surviving World War II, to Athens, and on to NZ. Their journey provided further moving inspiration to everyone present, as well as laughter from anecdotes about the many characters who made life in Wellington so colourful.

The day also featured presentations from head office team members about the new developments and challenges ahead in their fields, showcasing the dynamism and creativity which drives the company. From menu development to marketing and people development, everyone is focused on improving the customer experience, and providing opportunities for growth to our people.

A particular highlight was the prizegiving, recognising assistant managers who have achieved outstanding results as well as those who have shown promise and great initiative in such difficult times. Despite lockdown closures, an amazing 34 shops beat their previous year’s sales figures. That means they sold more despite far fewer trading days – well done all! Such results can only be achieved through amazing service and dedication every day on the front line – congratulation guys!

The afternoon session was all about creativity. The managers worked in small groups (with colleagues from around NZ) to generate solutions to everyday issues on the themes of our guiding principles. For example, how can we apply the principle “We grow our people & teamwork” to keep staff engaged and making improvements? By encouraging staff to think deeply about routine actions, these workshops meant questioning what staff take for granted, which is never easy! In fact, it’s another way in which we set ourselves challenging tasks and goals!

So many fantastic – and practical – ideas! Well done everyone! Group work and presenting is never easy!

The day ended with a – mostly! – fun quiz, testing our knowledge of the company history and products. But too many staff got 100%, so we needed a tiebreaker through a different challenge – creating new slogans for the popular Sunfed Chicken-Free Chicken! Look out for some creative new promotions in your shop soon!

Our photographer was busily buzzing around capturing the scene, so enjoy the pics in this post as well. And as we always say, great things happen when we work together! We can’t wait to see what’s next – see you soon everyone!

Such a beautiful venue! Full of local history, such as the famous NZ Brick Company in West Auckland. Love it!