What’s the difference between a discount retail chain and Air New Zealand? Not much, apparently, if Air New Zealand’s CEO is any indication.
I say that jokingly, but only half-jokingly, for reasons I will explain below.
But indeed, Air New Zealand has named Greg Foran as its new CEO, poaching him from his current role as head of Walmart USA.
As Air New Zealand seeks to reign in costs during a period of difficult growth, perhaps there was no better choice than recruiting from a retailer who has made a name for itself through strict pricing controls and ruthless cost cutting.
Foran is a Kiwi, born and raised on the North Island, who has been credited with 20 months of consecutive growth since taking a position as Walmart’s USA President and CEO in 2014.
Air New Chairman Therese Walsh said:
We are thrilled to have attracted a world class Kiwi back home. Greg has an impeccable track record in delivering strong commercial performance, outstanding customer focus and in building teams that can take a business to the next level.
As rising fuel prices and muted demand have hurt Air New Zealand’s profits, the question is whether Foran can pursue profitability that does not come at the (further) expense of the onboard product.
Walmart’s slogan is “Save Money Live Better”. You have to wonder, though, what employees of Air New Zealand may be thinking about the new appointment. It’s not like Foran can impose Walmart wages on employees, but keep an eye out for reductions hitting not only customers, but employees. I wish Foran all the best in is new role. He looks like a very nice guy.
image: Air New Zealand
Does that mean that Air New Zealand will soon start flying to XNA? 🙂
$WMT increased wages consistently while he was in charge. Part of that was due to an economic period with decreasing unemployment and you had to pay higher, but also a strategic change. Performance was down as employees were dissatisfied and turnover was higher, head count in stores was low so shelves were bare and checkout lines were long, and there was an over-saturation of stores which looked tired. Not that there won’t be cuts based on current structure, but $WMT wasn’t cutting itself to performance while he was in charge, rather an investment in product and front-line employees (granted from a low base). Apparently there was reports of internal conflicts so perhaps as much as being poached, he was actively looking for an off-ramp.
Air NZ an “iconic brand”…LOL…he’s in for a shock…
Having used NZ in business recently there’s no room for any cuts in the product for the very high fares they charge. More locally in NZ and to Australia there is little business class service unless a long haul aircraft is operating the route, just degrees of awfulness in economy on their A320 fleet, as ever because ‘that’s what their passengers want’.
I don’t think there’s anything to cut anywhere from the passenger experience and I can’t imagine the staff will be up for cuts either. I can’t see the Walmart approach resulting in anything other than strikes no matter what the board think about their great appointment.