About Life has consolidated its position as Australia’s largest organic and whole foods retailer in 2016. The company has moved from five to eight retail stores, following the acquisition of three large store leases previously operated by Woolworths supermarkets’ Thomas Dux chain.
The three new locations - Lane Cove (Sydney) opened in March, followed by Port Melbourne at the end of April, and Crows Nest, Sydney in June, "continuing our offering as the one stop shop for natural groceries and whole foods nutrition," said About Life co-founder, Jodie Stewart.
“This is an incredibly exciting stage in About Life’s growth. We have seen huge success in our five existing Sydney stores, and Australians have overwhelmingly embraced natural living in recent years, so it's fair to say we have ambitious expansion plans over the coming 1-2 years,” Ms. Stewart said.
About Life is seeing growth in all departments, including groceries, cosmetics, household care, and also in cafes and catering, with the Lane Cove store buzzing with sit-down and going diners when Organic & Wellness News visited in early July.
“Food is our greatest medicine, and as people are embracing this more, the growth is definitely in anything food-related,” she said.
“And of course now people who are eating cleaner are more concerned with what they are putting on their skin or using to clean their homes - and realizing that there are wonderful natural products without the poisons that can do the job just as well. So there is growth in these categories as well.”
The opening of three new stores will increase buying power and competitiveness and also means that About Life can help grow the businesses of its suppliers and farmers. “Our whole network benefits, including customers as we can pass on greater savings. As we grow, our community grows too,” Ms. Stewart said.
Sales continue to track strongly for About Life, and Ms. Stewart believes that people are becoming so much more aware of the link between eating clean, nutrient dense food and good health.
“They are also so much more concerned with a range of social issues - be it the environment, animal treatment, fair trade, food miles, etc. It's such an exciting time to be opening new stores and to be able to offer our products to more people,” she added.
And About Life has expanded its cafe and catering operations in the last few years following the opening of its largest (900sqm) store at Double Bay, Sydney in June 2014. About Life’s catering offer is split into four main sections:
* Catering service, a separate department within the business that offers catering for any occasion with 7/7 delivery
* Nature’s Kitchen, a short order wholefoods café that serves food from 7am-3pm
* Nature’s Servery, a self-serve food section (breakfast, salads, hot section, pasta bar, raw bar, make your own pizza), which is open from 7 am until store close
* Retail catering and ready meals, prepared in the main kitchen and available for sale in stores.
For the catering service, About Life is seeing more and more orders from its private in-store customers. However, the business sector still makes up most of its orders during weekdays.
About Life started in 1996 in the high street of Sydney inner-western suburb Rozelle, which is attracting vegan and wholefood cafes and restaurants.