NZ companies are relying on immigrants to fill a management and technology skills gap, and 84 percent of employers are concerned about the availability of key skills, as a PWC annual chief executive survey has recently revealed.

This is also true for the grocery retail sector. According to Foodstuffs North Island chief executive Chris Quin, bakers and butchers are two major skills shortages, and transferring retail skills into a digital world remains a challenge.

“In recent months, we’ve found that scarcity has been addressed between the most recent crop of graduates, as well as healthy immigration bringing high-tech skills into New Zealand,” Quin said. “We have produce managers with 20 years' experience, but we need to enhance their skills.”

As data and customer information become increasingly relevant, Quin emphasised that cyber-security is a growing concern for the retail industry. Foodstuffs is also putting a major focus digitalisation, with plans to open a store with only self-service checkouts.

“There are plans to make some shops completely self-service checkouts, and it's all driven by what customers want. If customers think this is convenient, then we will have more of them."