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Harris Farm

Harris Farm case study

A case study that shows how innovation leads to healthy growth in the fresh produce retail business.

In a market dominated by the major supermarket chains, Harris Farm has enjoyed remarkable growth in the fresh food and grocery space since its beginnings as a single fruit and vegetable store in Sydney’s Villawood in 1971.

Co-Chief Executive Officer Angus Harris explains: “When I came on board 80% of our revenue was from fruit and vegetables. We realised customers were happy to buy from us, but our range was limited.

“The first step was to expand our product offerings and we started small, introducing yoghurt, then orange juice and a range of gourmet cheeses. Our expansion from that point came category by category.”

Specialty products

While opening more stores, Harris Farm continued to experiment with new product lines, including seafood and fresh meat.

Over time the team realised more and more customers were coming through the doors for specialty products and as a result, they fundamentally changed their business model.

“We came up with the concept of “co-opetition” to ensure that customers had access to specialist products and people who could do it better than ourselves. We put the customer first and in doing so were the beneficiaries of greater foot traffic as the concept gained traction,” says Angus.

To imbed innovation within the business, Harris Farm took their management on a tour of the US to learn how leaders in retail were doing it differently.

Strong growth

“We immediately started to see the benefits of getting everyone on board with the vision,” he says.

This led to ideas like getting rid of generic milk and offering “imperfect picks”, designed to reduce food waste and offer a more affordable line of fruit and vegetables.  

As a result of its innovative approach, Harris Farm now has 25 stores, employs more than 2,000 people and enjoys strong bottom-line growth in a highly competitive market.

Things you should know: This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. The information in this report is based on a survey of 2,195 business owners, decision makers and mangers conducted on behalf of the Commonwealth Bank by DBM Consultants between August and September 2016; and an online survey of 505 Australian retailers carried out by ACA Research on behalf of the Commonwealth Bank in January and February of 2017. Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL and Australian credit licence 234945.