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Norman Goodfellows

Norman Goodfellows |

company profile

By appointment of the neighbourhood Editorial: Harriet Pattison Production: Ajuanne Payne

From fine wines, to spirits to malt whiskeys to local beers, Norman Goodfellows has recently opened a new distribution centre and launched an innovative new app allowing customers to place orders efficiently on their phones. So what’s next for the leaders in an increasingly competitive industry? IndustrySA speaks to CEO, Solly Kramer to find out what the future holds for this family run company… “We sell you the best times of your life”. Norman Goodfellows has delivered this to its customers for over 30 years since it was founded in 1976 by Norman Kramer. Son and CEO, Solly Kramer, explains that the reason for the name stems from his own stint in the UK all those years ago. “I was at University in Edinburgh and found the word Goodfellows in the Thesaurus there. It is very synonymous with jolly times, good times and good people.”

TRAINING IN THE FIELD With over 140 employees, Kramer explains: “We still have four or five members of staff that started with us in

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1976, so they have been with us for over 30 years. Of the 140 employees today, over 50% have been with us for 15 years or more; we are a family run business.” Customer service is imperative to the company so staff training is an essential aspect. “We pride ourselves on a good shopping experience, in terms of not only value but educated people, whether they are selling you malt whiskeys, beers or wine they really know what they are talking about. “We do a lot of in house training and outsource training. We send five members of staff a year to do the harvest in the Cape with various wine farms. It is done on a rotation basis so we try to give everyone a turn. They spend two days during harvest learning the whole winemaking process. I’m talking about people with no real

Norman Goodfellows

education, thrown into it, it’s amazing how they thrive on that little bit of knowledge and how they grow” Kramer explains. With five Norman Goodfellows’ stores, three in Johannesburg and two in Cape Town, Kramer explains that to ensure that customer service is maintained and standardised, the company send in mystery shoppers. “I will phone each store nearly every day and get a response, and they don’t know it’s me. They have learnt from us, they have taken in the same energy that we put in” says Kramer. Having stores in two of the biggest tourist destinations in South Africa, Kramer explains staff training is even more essential to ensure its customers receive expert knowledge and fantastic service. “We have lots of business tourists who shop with us in Johannesburg, they love being served by our local black members of staff because there’s a certain trust in what is being recommended to them.”

SUPPORTING THE LOCALS With South Africa one of the wine capitals of the world, Norman Goodfellows has been supplying fine wines,

beer, malts and liquor to customers all over the world for over three decades. Kramer explains: “Across the board in South Africa we have the widest range of international and local wines and we are the biggest champagne seller.” In addition to spirits which are mainly sourced from global brands including, Campari and Bacardi, Norman Goodfellows also focuses on supporting and stocking more local beers. “Lots of craft and artisan products are coming out of South Africa which have been made locally and are really excellent. We always have a forum and give them a lot of shelf space. Craft beers have become very popular in South Africa and it is a growing sector” Kramer explains.

NOT JUST A RETAIL STORE Norman Goodfellows have recently expanded and opened a new dedicated warehouse and distribution centre in October 2013. Kramer explains that before the expansion, “we were operating out of a very small warehouse; it had one exit and one entrance which were the same. We were running 18 to 28 vehicles out of there so we had to move and in so doing, from an internal point of view, it has given us more control and a lot more

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company profile

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Norman Goodfellows


ability to buy better, we can buy more in bulk.” The added space has also meant a more efficient service for

“We still have four or five members of staff that started with us in 1976, so they have been with us for over 30 years” the consumer too. “We are running 22 vehicles, they are checked on a minute-by-minute basis with live tracking, so we know exactly where they are and can give the customer an exact time when their order will be there,” Kramer explains. In addition to wine and liquor, Norman Goodfellows has made a name for itself in the party business too, providing a full rental service. Kramer explains: “One of the areas we have cornered the market on, we handle probably 90% of it in Johannesburg, is the big function catering where we do a huge service in terms of glasses,

bars, beer kegs, beer machines, waiters, cocktail-ware, separate bars, beautiful bars ready made for cocktails; we provide a whole party service.” Norman Goodfellows certainly knows its market and is even venturing into the ever lucrative world of social media. The Norman Goodfellows app introduces an innovative online shopping experience for its customers with special and unique deals that are only available once the app has been downloaded. Kramer explains: “It carries a total stock of what we carry and the services we do, so if you want to place an order for a function, it is all available on the app. It’s very experimental for us. We have a lot of success on our email, Twitter and Facebook side but the app side is very good for us because we download our catalogue on to it so it is a good way for people to have that in front of them all the time and they can then place orders from that.” Norman Goodfellows also provide a gifting service, offering customers the opportunity to send friends and family a bottle of South African wine or spirit. “We do a lot of gifting, local gifting and overseas wine gifting. A service whereby if South African people want to send gifts to someone in the UK or America, we cover most of the world. Locally, we do a lot of gifting too.”

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company profile LOOKING TO THE FUTURE With a new retail store recently opened in Benmore, Kramer explains: “People love it, suburban presence is very important, not just as distributors but also retailers; it strengthens that side of our business.” Norman Goodfellows is continually expanding, hoping to move further into Africa over the next few years. “We are dealing with some people in Botswana and Nigeria” says Kramer.

“They have learnt from us, they have taken in the same energy that we put in” Unlike many other liquor stores, Norman Goodfellows have a wonderful retail aesthetic and vision not only to ensure customers have consistently memorable experiences but to run a very successful

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business too. “There has been such a transformation in the retail liquor industry. Supermarkets and bigger liquor stores had become the real face of liquor retail, bearing this in mind we feel that we have a wonderful advantage because those are not nice shopping experiences. What we had to do to survive was to pick up this whole redistribution, we could not solely survive on the retail” explains Kramer. Solly Kramer has a strong vision for the future of Norman Goodfellows and it seems this business flows in his blood after attending the University of Edinburgh and working in the Auchentoshan distillery outside Glasgow for a year in 1974. Now, following in the successful footsteps of his father, he plans on creating a national footprint for Norman Goodfellows: “We are opening a distribution warehouse in Cape Town, improving the main store in terms of look and retail and we are looking to open a business in Durban in the Natal area, so we will have a truly national footprint.”


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We pride ourselves on service, quality, reliability and integrity. jun 14 PAGE 7

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