Healthia Limited has recently announced Daniel Simone as the newly appointed General Manager of Retail Footwear. Daniel alongside his wife Jessica is the founder of the Natural Fit Footwear retail business that saw its ﬁrst store open in 2017. Its sole purpose was to provide footwear options for people with troubled feet. They then set out to ﬁnd brands that would be willing to support them and shopping centres that would target customers that frequently visited. This then led to them successfully opening their ﬁrst store in Figtree, NSW on 27th November 2017 with just two casuals (one who is still with them today). Within three years they had grown to seven stores throughout Wollongong, Sydney, Orange & Melbourne. They had also welcomed 24 loyal team members and a fantastic base of around 30,000 customers.
We sat down with Dan to learn more about what he will bring to his new role and his understanding of the retail landscape moving forward.
How do you think the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the retail landscape and consumer spending habits? i.e., online-ofﬂine channels, affected the “retail experience”
COVID has deﬁnitely given Australians more conﬁdence to shop online. However, I feel what has happened is that COVID has changed the time we spend inside shopping centres. Taking a day out to shop and browse, get lunch and shop more in the afternoon has since been replaced by “in & out” type visits to our centres where people have done the prior research online and know what they want and where to get it from.
And, how will you look to continue to increase proﬁtability and remain competitive?
We, as always, must be up for change within our environment but our approach continues to be customer/patient centric. We need to ensure that our
in-store experience matches the convenience of online shopping. For us, it is not about online or instore. It is about both. Being able to be relevant to customers and patients at their speed, delivering the best and most personalised experience in all our channels will keep give us long term sustainability.
What has been your career highlight so far?
I consider my career highlight to be the many different steps and learnings along the way. However, there are two in particular that I would choose. The ﬁrst one would be the time I spent living and building the Hong Kong & Macau Retail FX operation. The second one would be establishing Natural Fit Footwear as a founder, building six stores in three years, and then since then becoming part of the Healthia team.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Passionate, Resilient, Hardworking.
What will be your priorities as GM of Retail Footwear in the short term?
My biggest priority is to create a uniﬁed retail model that aligns product, systems, marketing, ecommerce, visual merchandising & of course, service to the end
What will be your focus as GM of Retail Footwear for the long term?
Then long-term goal is to be a true part of the customer/patient experience. Our products should compliment the great work our clinicians do in the consultation rooms. My focus will be to work with the other General Managers to really make that come to life.
What is one piece of advice you would give to those considering starting their own business?
It is a great question! Be prepared to work hard and nurture the business to a level of stability. Be prepared to fail, but also be prepared to get up every time and try something else. I believe there is a solution to every problem.