CPL Group : Reimagining Retail

Josh RayfieldEd Budds
Josh Rayfield - Head of Projects Ed Budds - Editor

CPL Group is committed to providing Papua New Guinea with affordable and quality products and services. We explore how the company continues to reinforce the solid foundations of its highly diversified and resilient business.

REIMAGINING RETAIL

The economy of Papua New Guinea (PNG) continues to recover from the global shock inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, although this gradual rebirth has been inhibited by the rise of energy and food prices due to recent conflict in Europe. 

PNG’s government has increased spending once more across all sectors, however, the delayed re-opening of the nation’s crucial Porgera mine facility has subdued confidence and continues to starve the flow of currency necessary to sustain business. 

Despite these substantial headwinds, for one of the nation’s most iconic institutions, the turnover growth rate of CPL Group (CPL) was recently recorded at 4.7 percent. 

At its core, CPL aims to provide better health outcomes for PNG consumers and the operational nursing stations found throughout the country, enabling thousands of people to obtain safe and affordable services that they would otherwise be denied. 

Growth in the company’s iconic ‘Stop and Shop’ stores remains a challenge in reflecting increased competition, as well as the rising price of basic food items which places additional pressure on household affordability.  

Meanwhile, in the face of global adversity across the retail space, CPL continues to invest in key categories such as fresh produce, bakery, and meats, which is complemented by the opening of a new meat processing plant and commercial bakery in Gerehu.  

CPL’s pharmacy store footprint has also expanded with the opening of a new store in Kundiawa. 

Despite this array of global and local challenges, today, CPL is PNG’s largest retail and wholesale organisation and is listed on the Port Moresby Stock Exchange. The company started as the City Pharmacy chain, bringing primary healthcare support to citizens across PNG.  

CPL has worked tirelessly to establish itself as one of PNG’s pre-eminent corporations through its tactically astute acquisitions and multiple brand expansions. It continues to partner with several key brands to bring new products and services to the people of PNG, with the overall goal of helping the nation’s citizens to live healthier and better lives.

UNRIVALLED DEDICATION TO SERVICE

CPL’s people drive everything the company does on a daily basis, across every facet of its vast business operations. Furthermore, CPL is committed to making extraordinary efforts to provide its workforce with a best-in-class, inclusive work environment to deliver their full potential.  

The company has a robust talent development programme and focuses on recruitment and retention, which remain essential components of its ongoing recipe for success.  

In the last few years, CPL has been working hard towards building a sense of belonging whilst simultaneously championing its diverse culture and guiding principles.  

Knowing how its people feel is important to CPL, so the company is pleased with the participation and quality of feedback it has received in recent employee surveys, indicating that staff engagement is trending positively. Based on this valued feedback, CPL aims to continuously improve its people’s journey and create an optimal workplace teeming with the power of possibility.  

To build an even stronger team, and create an optimal employee experience, CPL will continue to emphasise professional development, internal promotions, and succession planning to ensure leadership continuity and a strong company legacy. 

One of the most important differentiators between CPL and its competitors is the experience it provides. The easiest way to ensure customers enjoy themselves is by providing high levels of customer service, and this can only be achieved with a cohesive and empowered workforce.

CPL FOUNDATION

Separate from the retail side of the business is the highly successful CPL Foundation, which aims to empower women and girls through access to education, literary programmes, improved healthcare services, and enhanced economic empowerment opportunities.   

Over the years, the CPL Foundation has paved the way to strengthen women’s education, health, and access to the workforce. This is not only a moral imperative, but a development goal. 

The CPL Foundation is committed to seeing tangible and sustainable results that emerge from partnerships, both private and public, domestic, and international.  

Regarded as the philanthropic arm of CPL, the foundation strengthens the existing connection between the business and its communities by fulfilling its commitments through copious corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. 

CPL delivers interconnected programmes focusing on women’s well-being, health, education, and economic empowerment.  

The foundation remains resolutely results-oriented, and CPL acknowledges that sustainable outcomes are possible by working in partnership with PNG’s communities. Through this refined approach, CPL strengthens relationships, builds capacity, and makes the most of the available resources and opportunities to deliver its initiatives successfully.  

Digital literacy remains crucial to CPL Foundation’s offering as technology continues to relentlessly advance. Across PNG, young people remain vulnerable to online risks, and it is therefore crucial for parents and caregivers to empower and support their children to have safer and more positive online experiences.  

In response to rapid internet and broader technology advancement in PNG, there is a lack of awareness and information regarding safe cyber practices. 

As planned, the foundation has introduced more education programmes across the nation in 2023, involving local government in each province to support and participate in the training.

GROWING THE PORTFOLIO

Over time, CPL has grown impressively in size and the scope of its expertise across PNG’s retail space, and has acquired new brands within its burgeoning portfolio. 

Established more than 35 years ago, City Pharmacy is the pioneering retail brand of CPL. The brand entered the market as a maverick creation, aiming to trial an innovative co-location scheme. Birthed from humble beginnings, City Pharmacy originally featured just four employees in CPL’s very first Stop and Shop outlet in Port Moresby’s mall, Garden City. It has since grown to host 900 employees serving across 34 pharmacies located across PNG. 

Stop and Shop remains a formidable brand in CPL’s retail portfolio, as its comprehensive product range caters to a vast selection of demographics. Acquired in 2005, the brand is established throughout the nation’s capital with seven supermarkets and one express version of the store. 

There is also a growing demand across PNG by families and small business owners to buy goods in bulk. As the grocery wholesale arm of CPL, customers can now purchase home essentials in large quantities through the Cash and Carry brand. These stores feature shelves stocked with a wide variety of products retailed at Shop and Stop supermarkets, as well as including non-prescription lines from City Pharmacy. 

To complement CPL’s retail offering, the company has developed its online store, which was relaunched in December 2020. This heralded CPL’s response to the demand for easy, efficient, and innovative ways for shoppers to browse and purchase products. The online store has VISA card payment options and customers can choose from home delivery or select pickup points at CPL’s Stop and Shop stores.  

Another point of pride for CPL is Jack’s of PNG, which has found a niche market in the demand for quality clothing and accessories. Eight years after conception, the brand now hosts five outlets in Port Moresby, Madang, Hagen, and Lae, catering to the fashion and style demands of men, women, and children.  

Elsewhere in the portfolio, Bon Café was the pioneering brand within CPL to kickstart PNG’s thriving coffee culture. The brand officially launched its first café in 2011, serving tea and coffee as well as a range of other beverages and treats to customers by a well-trained team of baristas. Today, the brand has a large footprint with 13 outlets, mostly located within either Stop and Shop or City Pharmacy stores. 

As such, CPL remains optimistic that the nation’s economy is on the crest of a growth surge.  

The company has invested heavily in the business and its staff continue to provide the sturdy foundation that will enable the company to take advantage of increased consumer spending power as the nation of PNG grows.  

The winning combination of strong economic growth, an increasing population, and an expanding middle class is sure to deliver exciting potential for companies such as CPL.

CPL GROUP PARTNERS

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By Josh Rayfield Head of Projects
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Josh Rayfield is Head of Projects (Retail) specialising in showcasing innovation and corporate success across the APAC region. Josh works with c-suite executives, industry titans and sector disruptors to bring you exclusive features. Josh also works on Africa Outlook Magazine and EME Outlook Magazine.