Partner Feature: Yoshi (Ashburton)

Welcome to our latest St. Pierre’s partner feature!

Today we’re in Ashburton, south of Christchurch, visiting Yoshi. He’s the partner of the new shop there, but he has a cool back story of his own! Originally from Japan’s ancient imperial capital of Kyōto, an iconic food culture destination, Yoshi has been in NZ for 18 years.

“I love the South Island and really feel at home in Canterbury. People here are so relaxed and friendly, and really appreciate new and interesting food experiences. I’ve had a great journey through food in NZ, and I’m happy to have met so many great people and brought happiness to them through food.”

Yoshi has extensive hospitality experience, such as in cafés, running his own Japanese restaurant, and as a hotel chef in Christchurch.

During that time, he worked for Bento Bowl for two years, but had to leave because of visa issues. He later moved to Invercargill and reconnected with us.

“I worked one day per week at St. Pierre’s Invercargill for about a year. Nan really sold me on the partnership programme, and I set a new goal of becoming a store partner. I was assistant manager for six months and then moved back to Christchurch to become Blenheim Road manager and prove I was ready to be a partner. I believe that in business you need to be like a grasshopper – ready to move quickly when you get the chance!”

Family was also a big driver of Yoshi’s partnership ambition.

“I’m married with an eight-year-old daughter and three-year-old son. The kids aren’t babies any more so it’s a good time to make a move! But at the same time, I just turned 50 so have been looking for new opportunities. I love the food industry, but wanted more of a management role, which a St. Pierre’s partnership provided.”

Thinking back, there was one episode in particular that planted the seed of his partnership ambitions.

“I was really sad when I had to leave Bento Bowl, but the directors made sure I wasn’t forgotten. Nick visited the shop on my last day and gave me a favourite book of his about leadership, and asked if I’d be interested in a partnership in the future. Perry called me that same day to wish me the best, even though I was one of 600 staff. And Costa came to visit at my Japanese restaurant soon after to see how I was doing. It left such a strong, positive impression that the company cared about me and wanted me back.”

Yoshi applies the same approach of inclusivity and giving back in his shop.

“Years later, my partnership ambition has come true in Ashburton, and I make sure to share that same care with my staff. The shop is so busy, but I try to create little moments to celebrate together. For our one-month anniversary after opening, I brought in a big tray of sweet and savoury bites from Coupland’s Bakery next door. It’s an iconic South Island company and our staff all love their treats! That and shouting coffee or cakes for break time on really busy days. We have such a great team, and I want them to feel the same positive energy I got from my St. Pierre’s managers.”

Outside work, Yoshi loves taking on home renovation challenges!

“A big tree in our back yard was damaged in a storm and we had to take it down. At the same time, the kids wanted a playground to invite their friends over to, so we came up with a way of upcycling the stump and branches into an adventure play area. They got their fun space, and then I got to work on mine!”

What space would that be? Well, every great artist needs a studio, and Yoshi now has one at home too!

Yoshi is proud of his achievements and the lifestyle he has built for his family. At St. Pierre’s, we’re proud to have amazing people like him on our team! We have a strong culture of being “people first”, supporting each other as we set challenging goals. Yoshi’s passion for food, family and community have taken him far, and we’re sure he will continue to reach new heights! Here’s to everyone across the St. Pierre’s Group aiming high!

Partner Feature: Tony (Bombay)

Welcome to our latest St. Pierre’s partner feature.

Today we’re in Bombay, south of Auckland, visiting Tony, whose passion for food and community has taken him half way around the world!

“Growing up in China, my parents ran a fast-food shop. I was inspired by how they always created nutritious, interesting dishes for their family and community. I really love Asian food – especially Chinese and Japanese – and came to New Zealand ten years ago to broaden my culinary horizons by studying cooking here.”

Tony interned at St. Pierre’s Lunn Avenue while still in school, transferred to Elliot Street as assistant manager for two years, and by his third year was back at Lunn Ave as sushi department manager. After six years, on 3 June 2021 Tony became the partner for the new Bombay shop.

Tony in a rare quiet moment on opening day!

“When I was an intern, I understood quickly that St Pierre’s treats its staff well, offering benefits small companies don’t. That’s why I decided to aim to be a partner early on, making St. Pierre’s where I develop my career. I value staff benefits and a company’s growth potential, and St Pierre’s is a model example of those. Above all, the culture here is warm and welcoming, and full of opportunities.

The journey really has exceeded my expectations. Becoming a partner has significantly increased my income, which gives me confidence I can look after a growing family. My next goal is to run the best partnership shop in NZ – I have tough competition, so it will be a challenge!”

The Bombay shop is in a motorway service centre, on the border of the Auckland and Waikato regions. The huge traffic volumes on State Highway 1 mean many customers are travellers taking a break – but not all.

“A lot of our customers are passing through, but there is a small, tight-knit Bombay community. I’ve been contacting local schools and working to provide them our freshly-made sushi. I’m sure we’ll form a strong relationship.”

Tony with his team on opening day

  “Food is about aroha. Creating food which people love is about looking after people, both the people eating it and the people making it. I often get my staff drinks from the Coffee Club and the dairy next door, and when we’ve had a great sales day, I buy them KFC after work or for lunch. Also, on special occasions like New Year, I organize small team gatherings in local restaurants.”

Tony enjoying a peaceful moment at Tāpapakanga Regional Park, Firth of Thames

“I have an international team – my staff are from different countries and cultures. It’s a wonderful team that represents the diversity of New Zealand. Many of my staff are of Māori descent, and I am glad they treat me as whānau. Through meaningful daily interactions with the team and customers, I have realized we share a lot of cultural values. I feel a real connection to NZ and the Bombay locals, and now view NZ as my home.”

Tony is proud of his achievements and the lifestyle he has built. At St. Pierre’s, we’re proud to have amazing people like Tony on our team! We have a strong culture of being “people first”, supporting each other as we set challenging goals. Tony’s philosophy about food and community have taken him far, and we’re sure he will continue to reach new heights! Here’s to everyone across the St. Pierre’s Group aiming high!

Partner Feature: Phillip (Rolleston)

Welcome to our latest partner feature!
Today we’re visiting Phillip in Rolleston, a relaxed satellite town just south of Christchurch.

Phillip came to NZ from China 20 years ago, making NZ’s southern city his home.

“I really love the lifestyle here. I’ve been with St. Pierre’s for over eight years, starting around the time my daughter was born. My first five years were at Riccarton, and now nearly four years in Rolleston. Some partners move shops a lot, but I’m happy with just two!”

Phillip in a rare quiet moment at work (photographed before the COVID-19 outbreak)

Even still, Phillip has learned a lot about local customer bases and how to tailor the products his shop makes most.

“Rolleston is growing fast. A lot of people moving here work very hard, so jumbo-sized packs are very popular! And we mostly sell chicken, not so much salmon and tuna. It’s a different market to Christchurch.”

Phillip (second from left) enjoying team building at the July 2021 manager conference

Phillip believes in the power of community engagement and a strong team to build a successful shop.

“Rolleston is growing, but it still has a small-town feel. The schools are well respected and focal points for the community. We work with the schools a lot, supplying sushi vouchers for prizegiving. Associating St. Pierre’s with success creates a positive image in the community.

We also do intro to sushi classes at school. We take fresh ingredients from the shop, and get the kids to try rolling their own. We talk about other sushi like nigiri and how to eat it. Kids love the experience, then bring their parents to the shop. We also have a stall at school fairs – last time we sold out in 30 minutes! We had to make three deliveries.

Getting kids used to sushi helps the shop succeed now, and good memories as kids make them sushi lovers for life. Engaging with schools is a winner for everyone.”

And of course, looking after people also includes the shop staff!

“I want to help our staff get their bonuses, giving them tips what they need to do each day. I encourage staff to learn more skills, organising a pay rise once they prove they’ve learned. Skills lead to confidence leads to motivation.”

“All our team members are locals, and lots are mums with kids. They have great life experience, communication and team work. Some can only do limited hours, but everyone understands each other’s situations, so we cover for each other. Teamwork keeps the shop going.”

“I love to celebrate milestones too. Each year we mark the shop anniversary with free four-piece packs and stickers for the kids, and we give staff chocolates and fruit at Christmas. Staff and customers love little extras.”

Phillip’s team in a rare quiet moment!

Phillip’s unique approach to team building has delivered – shop sales are consistently in the top three nationwide. Phillip is happy with the partnership position, but is still looking ahead.

“The money and work content as partner is great. I love putting time into community engagement and helping our people grow. We have several staff who are very keen to move up, and my challenge is training them to be future managers and partners. The company is growing fast and I’d love to see them succeed!”

Part of success is having lots of stock ready to go. Phillip’s customers are always spoiled for choice!

Phillip is justifiably proud of his many achievements. At St. Pierre’s, we’re proud to have amazing people like him! We have a strong “people first” culture, supporting each other as we set challenging goals. Phillip’s unique approach to management which has taken him far – here’s to everyone across the St. Pierre’s Group aiming high!