Vinnies Shops have been part of the Australian shopping scene for almost 100 years and have become synonymous with the op-shop scene. We have 227 Vinnies Shops in towns, cities, and suburbs across NSW.
Our shops are a lifeline to people experiencing poverty as they provide a critical revenue stream to fund our frontline services and assistance in community. Our shops also play a critical environmental role, diverting quality clothing and items from landfill and allowing them to ‘live a second life.’
2019/20 was a significant year for the Society’s retail operations. Natural disasters and the pandemic raised significant challenges across the network, while an organisation-wide restructure saw the introduction of a new leadership team and reformed state-wide operations.
Phase 1 of the restructure delivered a new position responsible for the division, titled Director for Retail & Logistics. This position sits across the entire St Vincent de Paul Society NSW network and is assisted by a leadership team that includes Regional Retail Managers across five regions, two Logistics Managers and back of house support.
Phase 2 of the restructure focussed specifically on the transformation of the logistics business, with the State split into Metropolitan and Regional NSW. A new structure delivered consistency and standardisation across many logistics functions and positions delivering efficiency and effectiveness.
With planned investment in Regional NSW over the next few years our transport and warehouses will continue to transform as we strive for our desired One Society objectives.
The leadership team moved quickly to develop strategies and a range of ventures that were identified as critical in response to internal and external opportunities and challenges. These included the:
- development of standardised systems
- implementation of the Hub and Spoke model for improved distribution of local donated stock
- establishment of trade routes for improved distribution of state-wide donated stock
- development of our first online retail shop
- sale of a range of products made from recycled textiles
The Hub & Spoke model is considered vital for the improved distribution of local donations to our retail shops to improve sales and quality across the network. This is vital for ensuring our shops continue to deliver for our customers. The benefits also include an improvement in waste management, recycling and Work, Health & Safety. An initial pilot was established in Tweed Heads, with additional sites rolled out or planned in Metropolitan Sydney and Regional NSW.
The financial year also presented major external challenges in the Black Summer Bushfires and COVID-19.
Bushfires ravaged local communities, first on the Mid North Coast in November 2019 before hitting the state more furiously in January. Many shops and warehouses were affected by this natural disaster, with our network liaising closely with the Society’s members and services to provide vital supplies and transportation.
In March, we were confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in the closure of our entire retail network, due to the increased risk for a large proportion of our volunteers and the increasing Government restrictions affecting retailers and customers.
The re-opening of shops followed the development of organisation specific Target Action Plans across April and May 2020. A range of control measures was developed to ensure the safety of our workers, our customers, and the public. This included the provision of Personal Protective Equipment and hand sanitiser as well as specific parameters around social distancing within the shop, customer restrictions, contactless payments, closed dressing rooms and later the establishment of QR codes for contact tracing.
Our first shop reopened in Byron Bay in early May as a pilot to test and review all our control measures and the response of customers. This was well received, and more shop openings were scheduled from late May. By the end of June 60% of our retail network in NSW was reopened.
Vinnies Shops made $54 million in 2019/20, with gross income significantly impacted due to closures from March to May 2020.