He may be the face of Australia’s only niche battery retailer but Vince Petruzzella is no wallflower when it comes to putting his money where his mouth is.
The man behind Battery Worlds’ Glynde and Parafield has just bought the Modbury store – making it a trio of investments in the brand he says is making an impact on the South Australian retail sector.
Battery World has made a commitment to rapid expansion nationally with an eye to opening its 100th store in SA in coming months.
Mr Petruzzella said the fact Australians picked up technology at greater rates than any other country, had led to a demand for specialised power products as we constantly sought to be continually plugged in.
“Last year we opened the Parafield store, the first new store in SA since five were opened in 2008,” he said, “Battery World is also looking to open a store in Gawler South in coming months. Adding to that the national network has also identified Mt Gambier, Port Lincoln and Port Augusta for potential new stores and is looking to recruit would–be franchisees in those areas.”
With three stores to run and manage Mr Petruzzella said he was keeping an eye on how the changes to Sunday trading will pan out.
“The job situation in South Australia is dire that is no secret,” he said, “While franchisees tend to be owner-operators often husband and wife teams: we do employ as many as five to 10 people in various positions. Often because the penalties are so high we work the Sundays ourselves but with three stores it is impossible for me to be at all three so I have the potential to create permanent positions and trade for hours that would better suit the consumer. At the moment for such a small business the costs are prohibitive so we run on reduced hours.”
After two years as the face of Battery World Mr Petruzzella said he was still not used to seeing his face on billboards and the back of buses.
“I was chosen for the campaign because the real strength of Battery World is we are your local expert: providing the expertise and knowledge you cannot get simply from the internet,” he said, “Our training is second to none – with on-going technology workshops at our annual conference and then in seminars throughout the year. As technology gets more complicated and there are issues with lithium batteries and how we charge them: our franchisees are trained in all things batteries. We may not dance well or be able to set up the perfect tent site, but we can always help with your power needs.”
Mr Petruzzella said with Modbury so close to the Adelaide Hills – he ensures he carries machine batteries for the apple and cherry farmers.
“Three store allows me to carry a wider range of stock which is always good for business,” he said, “Across the network of 98 stores SA has the highest number of transactions of smaller batteries like mobile phone batteries - than any other state. Interestingly the use of our 24hour mobile service for replacement auto batteries is up 20% over the same period last year so the word is spreading that we offer both the bricks and mortar experience and also out of hours service.”
Battery World Network Development Manager Alex Forbes said market research in South Australia showed brand recognition was up 60% on the last survey three years ago.
“The people at our focus groups were quite clear they would shop at a Battery World store if they were nearby and convenient,” he said, “So you can see why South Australia is definitely on our expansion radar. Vince brings an understanding of ‘what the consumer wants to achieve’, rather than ‘what product they want to buy’ and will provide the local community with genuine solutions and expert advice. We are very excited to see Vince expand into this area.”