Composite is a successful purchasing and retail service co-operative whose members are independent retailers who share the buying power needed to compete against the large retail chains.
Established in 1968, Composite is proof of the enduring success of the co-operative business model and the value of working together.
Composite is a lean, 12-member team which has been based at its purpose-built offices in Albany on Auckland’s north shore since 1997. Its divisions are apparel, footwear, flooring, furniture, window furnishing, gifts and homewares, and fabric and crafts.
Chief Executive Ian Caulfield, pictured, says that by being a member with non-competing like-retailers you retain your independence but you are never alone.
“Since a group of like-minded retailers came together 47 years ago to form the then Composite Buyers (NZ) Society with the help of accounting firm Turley and Hayward, our co-operative has grown from 10 members to around 150 with some 250 store fronts,” he says.
“The founders realised they needed to pool resources and acquire the purchasing skills to get better deals from suppliers. The collaborative approach endures today in an ever more competitive marketplace where ‘big box’ retailers have taken discounting to new levels.
“By consolidating their own supply chains, our members avoid getting caught in a downward spiral and remain competitive,” says Ian who brought a background in finance, IT systems project management and the retail industry to the CEO role six years ago. The co-operative has thrived under his leadership, returning to profitability and adding significant value to members’ businesses.
“Our structure determines that you receive immediate benefit from joining Composite as membership allows you to gain value with every transaction you place through us.
“We accumulate the buying power of all our member outlets and deliver savings and exclusive brands that you could not achieve alone.
“Even though we’ve been in business for over 40 years we are in a period of unparalled opportunity to unleash even greater benefits than we have delivered in the past,” says Ian.
’Putting the member first’ is at the core of Composite’s eight values, one of which is teamwork and which simply states ‘work together in the co-operative spirit’.
It’s been a tried and trusted formula for some 47 years for the Composite Retail Group whose brands also include Furniture Court, Floorings First and Curtains First.
Valuable opportunities to network with like-minded, non-competing fellow retailers are offered to members through conferences and expos, including the Apparel Expo in early September.
Composite will lead delegations to countries such as China and Vietnam this year.
Composite has been a valued member of Cooperative Business NZ for many years, a decision Ian says makes the same sound business sense today.
“As a relatively small co-operative getting access to co-operative-specific resources and advice is huge for us. Whatever the size of any co-op, we share many of the same challenges and opportunities. It’s reassuring to know I need only call Ian (Macintosh) to get the information or co-operative contacts we need whatever the issue,” Ian Caulfield says.