Superette's New Home

Reading Time: 12 Minutes

After the devastating floods earlier this year destroyed their flagship Newmarket store, Superette founders Rickie Dee and James Ridgen reflect on growing their iconic brand, having a strong team and their return to Newmarket.

Newmarket.  Can you tell us about the Superette brand story and how the concept came to be? 

Rickie.  We started 21 years ago when we were 21 years old. We initially found inspiration for the concept from the international market, seeing a combination of fashion stores mixed with lifestyle elements and in some cases, coffee shops. We loved this idea of curating exciting and interesting products together in one space, and at the time felt that there wasn’t something already like this within New Zealand. 

James.  When we first sought out to find products for our store, we made it as far as Melbourne Fashion Week and we had already spent the budget, we found a number of products that we wanted to bring back and sell. Initially the brands we brought back were often small, ‘one-man band’ kind of brands and this really started that process of understanding how to build brands and market them to our customers. 

N.  You are celebrating 21 years this year which is a fantastic milestone. What are some of the key learnings? 

R.  There’s so many. Despite being 21 years in, every year there’s new challenges that we have to look at and find solutions for. We must be open to keep changing and evolving. Not only to the market, but to our customers - which is ultimately the most important part of our business. 

J.  We really have built our business on being customer centric and it’s something that we will continue to be really focused on. It really needs to be at the forefront of every single decision we make as a company. It can be challenging as you grow, as you have so many other needs within the business, but the customer has to be at the heart of all decisions. 

N. How do you manage working with one of your best friends?

R. It's easy. I think we make a great team. If we ever disagree on things (which does obviously happen), we don't hold grudges. We always move on and we always hear each other out.

J. It’s never been one of our challenges and we're very fortunate for that. We are lucky that we have two different skill sets and we're respectful of each other and our differing strengths. I don't think we would be where we are today without each other and our skill sets. We're not competing to do the same job within the business.

N.  What advice would give to someone who is looking to start out in your industry? 

R.  Be prepared to work hard. It’s not a business that will come easily and you’ve got to keep working at it. Fashion is tough and changes so frequently. You need to keep adapting to those changes and keep pushing to constantly innovate and look at what’s next. You certainly can’t launch something and then be done with it. 

J. This industry in particular is really about being adaptable. Fashion changes every season, sometimes four times a season. You have to be agile, adaptable and pretty relentless. 

N.  What do you love most about your job? 

R. For me, 21 years in, it still doesn’t feel like work. I think that’s due to the changing nature of our business, it is constantly new and exciting. I work across so many parts of the business. No two days are the same. We’re always viewing new products which keeps it feeling fresh. We always have something interesting to talk about and launch. 

J. I agree, evolving and growing are two things that I still really enjoy. It’s one of the challenges of this business, but it’s also one of the things that I love about it. 

N.  Team plays a vital role in the smooth running of any business, how do you manage your team across your brands and platforms and keep them motivated? 

R. This is an interesting one and is something we’ve thought about a lot. We realised we have to look at ways to simplify our message and our vision to keep our team all on the same path. It’s important also to have great people and great managers to share the load and help drive those people and deliver the same message. 

J.  Communication and clarity become the two most important things. It’s so important that the entire team is all on the same mission. We want our team to walk into work each day and understand that our job is to inspire our customers. Sometimes simplification and a singular vision really is the best thing, as it ensures we are all working towards the same goal together. 

N.  The Newmarket Nuffield Street store was badly affected in the flooding earlier this year, what was the biggest challenge that came from that? 

J.  This was a really testing time for us. but we also had to step back and understand that there were many people that were affected a lot more than us within their personal lives too. Certainly for the business however, it was one of our most testing times. Obviously not having a store for such a large portion of this year has really affected our trade. That certainly was one of the largest challenges, as well as diverting teams and diverting stock. But, like anything, with all challenges come opportunities. 

N. What is one thing you love about your Newmarket customers?

R. Our Newmarket customers are really loyal and we’re so grateful for that. There are so many customers that we’ve had right from the beginning when we first opened our Nuffield Street store.

J. Our Newmarket store also probably has the widest customer demographic of all of our stores. We have such a large cross-section of people that shop at our Newmarket store which in turn makes the product mix and store experience exciting, as we want to make sure we have something for everyone. Newmarket is also known as the go-to shopping destination for New Zealand - so we have both our local, loyal customers that live nearby, as well as the customer that travels to Newmarket because it is the fashion destination.

N. When looking for a new space, what were some of the key considerations?

R. It sounds kind of cheesy, but we sort of know when we see it. We know when we’re there if the space is right. Every store is different, but there’s definitely key elements we look for. The location, the neighboring stores, accessibility, design.

J. For us, location always comes first. Ensuring our stores are located in the best spots that reflect who our customer is and where they want to be. Then of course the key considerations are always size, space and seeing the potential for design and fit out. Practical elements like car parking and making sure it’s accessible to our customers are super important too.

N. Was there ever a consideration to condense Superette and Superette International into one space?

R. Yes. A focus for us this year is ensuring our brand message and vision is as clear as possible for our customers. It’s easy to overcomplicate things. We are looking at both concepts and analysing the best parts from both to bring that into one single-minded concept. We want to ensure we’re always reminding ourselves of what we’re here to do: to curate the best fashion and lifestyle product from the best brands around the world.

J. As a company, it’s something we’ve been thinking a lot about. Streamlining our processes, streamlining our message. Focusing on a single minded mission rather than splitting our minds constantly between two different concepts, when ultimately, the vision really is the same, ‘to curate the best fashion and lifestyle product from the best brands around the world for our customer.’ We are making it a priority to deliver that message.

N.  Can you talk us through the key differences between Superette and Superette International? 

R.  The idea behind Superette International was to be able to offer more brands to our customers. By doing this we were able to really curate and refine the product mix for every store location. We are currently undergoing a branding exercise for these two concepts and looking at merging the best parts of both concepts into one single minded brand and therefore message. 

J.  This means that we can take the best parts of our Superette International concept and bring that experience to our other stores throughout the country and vice versa with bringing the best parts of Superette into our Superette International store. The underlying reason and intention behind this really is to serve our customers and bring the best brands to all stores throughout New Zealand. 

N.  Tell us more about your new Superette space 

R.  We are beyond excited to be opening back up in Newmarket and in a new site on Morrow St that is more than double the size of our Nuffield Street store. Although we are sad to be moving on from that location as a result of the flooding, we are excited for the new chapter ahead with more space to showcase what Superette has to offer. 

J.  It’s also really nice that we are going back to our roots by having a cafe within the retail space -having fashion and food and lifestyle all under one roof. We’re really lucky that Daily Bread is sharing the same site as us and we feel it’s such a nice addition that will really add to the store experience. We’ve always wanted Superette to be a space that people want to come and hang out and enjoy and be inspired by so this is a really exciting move for us. 

N.  Will the new Superette store be launching any new brands with the opening? 

R.  Yes for sure. We are always on the lookout for  the best brands that we can bring to our stores. Some are exclusive to Morrow St and others will also be available in some of our other Superette doors. A few of the new brands we’ll be welcoming include: Friends with Frank, Marle, Hansel and Gretel, Sunset Lover, Anna Quan and Silk Laundry. 

N. What are the key fashion trends you are noticing as we head towards the warmer weather?

R. There's so many, a few that come to mind in the female fashion space include: coordinating sets, citrus tones, slate grey colorways, oversized fits, off the shoulder and neck detailing and soft tailoring. In the men's fashion space we're seeing classic workwear really become more prominent, style influenced by New York and the cargo pant style with a more relaxed oversized fit.

N. Will there be a new Superette Collection launch this season?

R. Yes. We launch four Superette campaigns every year and most recently we have launched Superette Hawke, a collection designed for the woman on-the-go, to wear to any occasion. Our Superette drops are all about being easy to style and effortless to wear on high rotation. An important element of our in-house Superette range is about listening to our customer and understanding what resonates with her. We’re always analyzing the trends she's interested in, the fabrications that she likes to wear, the silhouettes that appeal, and it's from these insights that really inform and help us to develop our product range.

N. What are your biggest achievements to date?

R. Running a business that's now 21 years old! Aside from that - of course raising three wonderful children, building our team and opening each new store is always a highlight for me.

J. Building the team we have at Superette, my family of course and still being here today doing what we do 21 years later at Superette.

N. What's next for Superette?

R.  The launch of our Newmarket store is a real highlight for us as well as the opening of our new Merivale store, our second store in Christchurch, towards the end of the year. Also as mentioned, we’re looking at what the next few years look like for Superette and how we can continue to be the go-to destination for fashion and lifestyle in New Zealand. Refining what that looks like in terms of bringing the best of our Superette and Superette International concepts together and fine tuning that to cater to our customer's needs and wants. 

J.  We want to become laser focused with the aim of getting our team and systems prepared for that next round of growth. This means refining our goals and messaging so we’re prepared for the next chapter for Superette and so we continue to put our best foot forward. 

Visit Superette's new flagship store;

8 - 10 Morrow Street