Ian McLauchlan – National Merchandise & Buying Director


My name is Ian McLauchlan, national merchandise and buying manager for NightOwl Convenience stores. I’ve been in NightOwl most of my working life I can honestly say, and that’s over 40 years. In that period of time, I’ve spent about 3 years in my current role but prior to that I was a franchisee for over 30 years.

What are your job responsibilties?

The buying team and myself obviously are responsible for the range in our stores, the stock that we carry, the stock levels we carry, the visibility in store which covers things like planograms, layouts, promotional activity, and of course the price, which is the negotiated buying price and the price we often sell things at.
We need to be constantly staying relevant in the industry, so we’re always looking for new directions to take our franchisees in, and of course maintaining a really constant level of standards really that support our suppliers and make us a successful business. We are the point of contact with most of our key suppliers, so we’re negotiating on behalf of our franchise members, and we’re really driving the direction of the business in a way that’s gonna make it profitable and successful into the future.

Who does NightOwl partner with and how does pricing work?

NightOwl Convenience only deals with quality suppliers of goods, and obviously we only handle quality products and we deal with quality suppliers.
I have spent all of my working life really in this business which is the FMCG convenience, and most of that time, in fact over thirty years of that time was spent as a franchisee of my own business, running my store, employing my own staff, and looking after my own customers, so I really do have a good understanding of both sides of the business, from the company perspective, and also from the franchisee perspective, and I always look at it from both sides when I’m looking at making buying decisions. We always strive to get a consistently good price for our franchise partners, but is not possible to always to have the cheapest price, because there are always one-off promotions across the industry obviously. So, it’s about consistency, and we do give the freedom in our business, we have approved suppliers, so there are a number of options for them to purchase through distribution channels. NightOwl is aligned with the three major quality brand fuel suppliers, that is obviously famously BP, Shell and Chevron Caltex. Petroleum industry has lot of intricacies obviously, the supply chain is quite complex but we work with our partners and we work with the franchisees to make sure that’s relatively seamless. We are constantly monitoring our competitors, we look at the price of fuel on a regular, daily even hourly basis, and obviously we’re aiming to make a good quality margin, but be competitive in the industry.
We are looking to drive margins, and make our franchisees more money, through better buying obviously, selling at a competitive price, but not necessarily always the being the cheapest, and offering a quality service, because over and above everything I think it’s not just price that brings in the customers, it’s that quality product with good service.

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