Tuesday, June 18, 2024

CEQ officially opens ‘remote store of the future’ in Far North Queensland community of Bamaga

Not-for-profit remote store operator Community Enterprise Queensland (CEQ) has held the official grand opening of its new IBIS ‘remote store of the future’ in Bamaga near the northern tip of Cape York Peninsula.

The new store, which began construction in September 2022 and has an improved, modern look and design, is a first-ever concept store marking a significant milestone in improving the shopping experience for remote First Nations communities.

It includes:

  • Bulk buys, Deadly Deals, and an exclusive product range not typically found in remote stores.
  • Cutting-edge eMarket kiosks for ordering additional product lines not available in-store.
  • A self-service café with a range of nutritious and healthy meal options for the community, including freshly squeezed orange juice.
  • Active promotion of healthy food choices, including gluten free options, while removing all confectionery from the checkouts.
  • Instructional resources such as ‘Grow your own’ videos and books, enabling community members to cultivate their own produce.
  • Eco-friendly shopping trolleys made from recycled milk bottles.
  • Bakery, including fresh bread and rolls.
  • Supporting local First Nations businesses by providing merchandising space in store.
  • Free fruit for children.
  • Increased shop floor trading area of approximately 800 square metres – almost double the size of the previous store.
  • New, energy-efficient chiller and freezer refrigeration, with full back up of refrigeration equipment to prevent loss of products.
  • Undercover parking and special bays for RV’s and trailers.
  • Unique range and services specifically focused on seniors who live in the community.

CEQ Chief Executive Officer Michael Dykes says the new store creates an experience for customers that is not currently available in remote communities in Australia.

“We’re delighted to officially open this ground-breaking new store in Bamaga to continue to provide the best possible service to the local community,” Mr Dykes said.

“By bringing city supermarket-style shopping, healthier food options, and an array of innovative concepts to Bamaga, CEQ is determined to redefine the retail landscape in the region.

“At CEQ, all our team members live by our vision of ‘Caring, Every day, Always’ and improving the lives of residents in remote First Nations communities.

“Our aim is for the team and people of Bamaga to be proud of their new store, which provides a focused range, quality fruit and vegetables, and healthy food options.”

The store also features HappyOrNot customer feedback kiosks to gauge the success of the Bamaga store’s innovative services.

Mr Dykes said CEQ will use this customer feedback to decide which initiatives from the Bamaga store could potentially be rolled out to other IBIS and ABIS stores across CEQ’s remote store network.

“These new stores show how we are reinvesting in infrastructure to increase capacity, employment, quality and affordability in communities,” he said.

“We would like to thank the Traditional Owners for their continued support for the community in making this happen.”

The official opening saw representatives from Ipima Ikaya Native Title Aboriginal Corporation, Apudthama Land Trust, Bamaga People Indigenous Corporation, and Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council (NPARC) in attendance, as well as CEQ Board of Management, CEQ team members, and the wider community of the Northern Peninsula Area.

Community Elders were on hand to officially open the store along with NPARC Mayor Patricia Yusia, while Pastor Titom Tamwoy provided a traditional blessing.

CEQ is a not-for-profit organisation responsible for providing goods and essential services to the Torres Strait, Northern Peninsula Area (NPA), mainland Aboriginal remote communities, and Palm Island through its 28 stores.

CEQ manages Islanders Board of Industry and Service (IBIS) and Aboriginal Business, Industry and Service (ABIS) stores, as well as other stores including Col Jones, Mona’s Bazaar and Mitre 10 on Thursday Island.

“At CEQ we constantly look at ways to improve our service. This re-investment into our IBIS Bamaga store allows us to trial new innovations and generate real feedback from our community members,”, says CEQ General Manager – Stakeholder Engagement Fred Gela.

“The Wis Wei Cafe is promoting healthy alternatives for our communities. We have seen a reutilisation of materials to create new outcomes, re-purposing materials from the previous store for the new ‘store of the future’”, says CEQ Acting Chairperson Joann Schmider.

“Everything we see around us, it comes from inside us – this concept had gone from vision into being. For CEQ, the appetite now is to push forward connecting our communities with innovation”, says CEQ Board Member Fraser Nai.

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