Sarah Hunter

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Sarah Hunter
Officeworks
Managing Director

2021: After being away on parental leave for several months at the end of 2019 and the start of 2020, Sarah Hunter returned to the helm to steer Officeworks successfully through the choppy waters of the COVID-19 crisis.

The every-channel retailer experienced unprecedented demand during the pandemic, with sales in the 2020 calendar year growing by around 25%, driven by categories such as technology and home office furniture. While sales dipped in the first half of 2021 (due to the tough year-on-year comparisons), Officeworks’ full-year revenue (to 30 June 2021) exceeded the A$3 billion (US$2.2 billion) mark for the first time.

As consumers shift their purchases online, Officeworks has made further investments in its digital capabilities, revamping its website and app and increasing the number of available SKUs to around 40,000. It has also introduced a print and create website, piloted a classroom essentials service for schools and launched a subscription programme for its Geeks2U technology services.

This is being backed up with supply chain enhancements: a new, state-of-the-art fulfilment centre in Briggs Drive, Victoria, will become operational in the current financial year. This highly automated facility will improve both productivity and safety.

The stores have by no means been forgotten. 68 of Officeworks’ 167 outlets have been upgraded in the past 12 months, while categories such as technology, early learning, hobby and craft, and work-from-home have all undergone major changes.

Hunter is now turning her attention to growth. Officeworks is looking to expand into adjacencies that will double its addressable market to A$56 billion. It is also targeting a greater presence in the professional education market and the SMB B2B segment. The CEO is not ruling out acquisitions to help the company achieve its goals.

2019: Sarah Hunter took over as Managing Director of Australian office supplies retailer Officeworks on 1 January 2019. She joined from parent company Wesfarmers’ subsidiary Coles, where she had worked since 2010.

During her time at Coles, Hunter held several positions, including General Manager of Workplace Strategy and General Manager of Finance for Coles Express. Prior to this, she worked in the UK in a number of senior commercial positions in banking and airports.

An experienced retailer and business professional, at Officeworks she oversees almost 170 retail stores nationally and over 7,000 employees. H1 sales for the company until the end of December 2018 were A$1.1 billion (US$780 million), a year-on-year growth of 8.2%.

Under Hunter’s watch, Officeworks has recently acquired technology services firm Geeks2U which she said is part of the company’s strategy to expand its offer to better meet customers’ needs and complement its existing products.

In addition, the company is set to open what it says will be the largest office products store in the world in Mentone, Victoria. The 6,500 sq m premises will be four times the size of Officeworks’ average store.

Read our Big Interview with Hunter in the September 2019 issue of OPI