Interview: Dave Hargreaves

Ten years ago Dave Hargreaves moved his wife and two kids to New Zealand after being headhunted by Woolworths from a senior retail manager position at UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s. Fast-forward seven years, and Dave, whose first job was a paperboy in Liverpool, is CEO of Kiwi liquor chain Liquorland. Fresh from its 2008 sale from DB Breweries, Dave is taking the company back to basics, through a re-brand, and learning to work with the many franchisees of Liquorland stores – and seeing how business decisions directly impact people’s livelihoods. 

What does an average day in your life involve?

I live in Hamilton and commute to Auckland. 6:00am on the road for a 7:30am start. A typical day could be team and supplier meetings, store visits and plenty of air travel. 81 stores from Invercargill to Keri Keri keeps me busy.

What has been a highlight in your role at Liquorland?

Rebranding of the business, the team have brought it into the 21st century. Assembling the current Liquorland team has given me extreme pleasure.

What drives you in your career?

The “fear of failure”. I aim to be the best I can.

What do you most enjoy about working life?

The diversity that no day is the same. Having a national role is very privileged and I get to see lots of NZ.

What would you be doing if you won 10 million dollars?

I would retire and spend it with and on my family.

How do you deal with stress in your work life?

I try and take time out on regular intervals, holidays are very important.

What has been the biggest challenge in your career?

Starting a new career in NZ, building a network and a track record.

What is your favourite thing to do outside of work?

I spend time with my family, sport and socialising with friends is something I enjoy.

What attracted you to Liquorland?

A tired business with enthusiastic franchisees just looking for direction. Working for Foodstuffs was also a key factor.

A lot has changed in the way business operates over the last 20 years. In your view, what has stayed the same?

Good people are still as valuable today as then. Key attributes of honesty and loyalty are still important.

What’s the best part of your day?

First hour of work before anyone arrives, clear the decks and sets me up for the day. Seeing my family at the end of the day.

What motivates you to work?

I am passionate about retail, I love my job and working with my team.

If you could have one person working with you at Liquorland, who would it be?

Sam Walton – founder of Wal Mart, legendary retailer.

If you could meet one person, alive or dead, who would it be?

John Lennon – I was brought up in Liverpool and still remember what I was doing when I heard he had died.

Who, in business, do you most look up to?

I have a great board so my three directors and chairman, all different but a great dynamic.

In your view, what makes a business successful?

Good leadership, everyone pulling together for a common goal. Keeping it simple.

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  • Michael says
    What an interesting guy, I feel like running a liquor store now.
    If I did I would have a naughty secretary that fed me sushi with her toes.

    I can't find the "emoticon" that shows that I'm yawning, can anyone help?
    • Michael says
      I wonder if the photographer asked him to pose like that, "yeah thats good mate, just act normal"
    • Steffan says
      Being a student from Dunedin, I can say Dave would be seen as somewhat of a saviour down here. Would love to see how much revenue the otago uni students plug into Liquorland...

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