A high flyer’s air­port dream

CAIRNS AIR­PORT IS IN FOR AN EX­CIT­ING FU­TURE AS ITS NEW RE­TAIL AND PROP­ERTY CHIEF IM­PLE­MENTS WAYS TO MAKE IT AN AT­TRAC­TIVE PLACE FOR VIS­I­TORS AND LO­CALS ALIKE,

The Weekend Post - - News - WRITES ALI­CIA NALLY

With a re­sume list­ing some of the coun­try’s big­gest names in re­tail, Tracey Groves had never re­ally con­sid­ered work­ing for an air­port, un­til last year.

Cairns air­port’s new re­tail, trans­port and prop­erty chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer (above) is from Mel­bourne, and the lat­est to ar­rive on the Far North busi­ness land­scape. She has big plans for the city’s gate­way to the world. Af­ter years com­mut­ing for hours from Mel­bourne’s east­ern sub­urbs to school and gru­elling morn­ings spent at swim­ming train­ing, Ms Groves re­belled against her par­ents’ dreams for her, es­chew­ing univer­sity for a re­tail cadet­ship at Myer.

WITH a re­sume list­ing some of the coun­try’s big­gest names in re­tail, Tracey Groves had never re­ally con­sid­ered work­ing for an air­port, un­til last year.

Cairns Air­port’s new re­tail, trans­port and prop­erty chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer is from Mel­bourne and the lat­est to ar­rive on the Far North busi­ness land­scape. She has big plans for the city’s gate­way to the world.

Af­ter years com­mut­ing for hours from Mel­bourne’s east­ern sub­urbs to school and gru­elling morn­ings spent at swim­ming train­ing, Ms Groves re­belled against her par­ents’ dreams for her, es­chew­ing univer­sity for a re­tail cadet­ship at Myer.

“I started on the shop floor learn­ing the trade from the bot­tom up,” she said.

“Later on, many years later, I did an MBA, which was a bit dif­fi­cult, not hav­ing gone to uni when I was younger.

“I spent 10 years in Myer and worked my way up from sales as­sis­tant through to buyer. Then my fi­nal role was in the new sec­tion of Myer Di­rect, which was re­ally the start of on­line re­tail, but it was a mail or­der sys­tem.

“I was in­volved in set­ting it up. We re­ally moved from mer­chan­dis­ing in the store to learn­ing how you put a pho­to­shoot to­gether and we were see­ing we at­tracted more re­gional cus­tomers than city cus- tomers. It just gave me that more ex­po­sure to the re­tail in­dus­try.”

Set­ting up the re­tail of­fer­ings at the new Crown Casino in Mel­bourne also pro­vided plenty of learn­ing curves with Ms Groves cre­at­ing con­cepts from scratch.

Once the open­ing was com­pleted, a po­si­tion at Shell was the be­gin­ning of a 17-year ca­reer in the pe­tro­leum in­dus­try.

“Shell wanted a re­tail ex­pert as they were mov­ing into con­ve­nience re­tail at their petrol sta­tions. My friends were shocked. They said, ‘you’re mov­ing from buy­ing beau­ti­ful cloth­ing to buy­ing dog food?’,” Ms Groves said.

“I ended up head­ing up con­ve­nience re­tail for Aus­tralia and New Zealand and do­ing the pro­mo­tional pro­grams for the 2000 Olympics in­clud­ing the col­lectable col­lec­tions.

“I was heav­ily in­volved in that and even got to run with the torch. I’ve still got the torch. That was lots of fun.”

A move to Sin­ga­pore pulling to­gether re­tail part­ner­ships across the Asia Pa­cific and the Mid­dle East pro­vided a chal­lenge in work­ing with vastly dif­fer­ent coun­tries, cul­tures and re­tail de­mands.

I HADN’T THOUGHT ABOUT AIR­PORTS BE­FORE BUT I GUESS WHEN I HAD A LOOK AT THE OP­POR­TU­NITY IT RE­ALLY BUILT ON A LOT OF THE SKILLS I HAD TRACEY GROVES

Five years in the busi­ness hub of Asia also pro­vided Ms Groves and her hus­band a tol­er­ance for the hu­mid con­di­tions they now ex­pe­ri­ence on a daily ba­sis in Cairns.

Her first big coup for North Queens­land Air­ports since start­ing more than four months ago has been lur­ing Emi­rates Leisure Re­tail, part of the Emi­rates Group, to com­plete a re­fit of new bars and cafes at Cairns’ do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nals.

Ms Groves also ac­knowl­edged the need to think about bike paths and bet­ter pub­lic trans­port to the air­port and has be­gun look­ing at the lo­ca­tion of he­li­copter ser­vices for tourists head­ing to the Reef, re­lo­cat­ing them to a more ac­ces­si­ble part of the air­port.

“I hadn’t thought about air- ports be­fore, but I guess when I had a look at the op­por­tu­nity it re­ally built on a lot of the skills I had,” Ms Groves said.

“Emi­rates was a huge win. They have re­ally gone into the re­tail area in the past few years and put some re­ally great mod­els in Mel­bourne and Tas­ma­nia.

“What I re­ally love about them is the way they show­case the lo­cal pro­duce. In the con­cept they come up with, the most im­por­tant piece is they are re­ally keen to en­sure they have lo­cal prod­ucts and ser­vices at the fore­front.

“There are only 155,000 peo­ple liv­ing in Cairns. There are more in cap­i­tal cities, which means you get a lot more choice.

“When you’re in a smaller pop­u­la­tion you have to be wary and cog­nisant of what the cus­tomer is want­ing be­cause they’re very dis­cern­ing and if you don’t have what they want they’ll go and get it on­line.

“We’re gear­ing up very much to get lots of lo­cal cus­tomers and lots of in­ter­na­tional cus­tomers. That gives us a broad range of re­tail re­quire­ments, which en­ables us to have a broad range of re­tail op­tions.”

RE­TAIL FO­CUS: Tracey Groves at the in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nal at Cairns Air­port, where she is the new re­tail, trans­port and prop­erty chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer. Pic­ture: BREN­DAN RADKE

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