It’s been another big year for Sanbah at the SBIA Banquet and Awards taking home the Australian Breakout Retailer of the Year Award, scoring Runner Up in the Retail Digital Marketing Award and making it into the top five finalists for Core Board Store of the Year and Australian Retailer of the Year – Single Store Award.  Following these epic achievements, we thought it would be a good idea to touch base with Sanbah and get a little insight as to what they’ve been up to.

Last time we interviewed Sanbah in 2016, we caught up with owner Rhys Smith, this time around we spoke with Store Managers & Buyers Jacki Trives and Brook Watson who are an integral part of the Sanbah family.  Both have a tonne of experience in the industry and we thought it would be great to get their perspective on the Sanbah business…

Q1: Since opening your doors 15 years ago, you’ve done a few renovations, you’ve won awards and expanded the Sanbah team…have there been any major changes or news over the last months?

Yes, we have been very busy with a few projects.

Over the last 18 months we have been working on a new store “Sanbah Grindhouse” that is a 1000m2 stand alone store in Marketown shopping centre in Newcastle. It features an air-conditioned indoor skatepark, skate shop, Hurley store, Sanbah fashion store & cafe.  It’s been a huge process due to council DA’s flood levels and the fact 400m2 of the building has to be built, but we are finally getting there and are hoping to be operating this November. We feel this new store which is located 1.5km away from Sanbah Surf will compliment what we are doing really well. It is a huge site and we have some exciting features and ideas to make it stand out from the rest.

In the last 4 months Rhys and Sophie went into partnership with Robbie McNaughton with his mountain bike store Drift Bikes that has been trading in Newcastle since 2003 (same as Sanbah).

During this time there has been some huge changes made to Drift with the store moving across the road from its location to a 1000m2 site and the existing site converting into a 360m2 workshop which is all located in Kotara shopping area in Newcastle, 10km from Sanbah Surf. The Sanbah formula has been emulated into a bike store and we have implemented the successful Sanbah systems and procedures.

Drift Bikes store has over 500 bikes and is the first bike store to stock brands such as Patagonia, Volcom, vans, RVCA, Globe, Stance, Electric, Nike & more. A number of the Sanbah Surf team have been involved in the setup and execution of the new store and in mid July the new store launched with great success.

Q2: How big is your team now? 

Sanbah Surf currently has an 24 employees.

Drift Bikes & workshop has 38 staff.

Our new venture Sanbah Grindhouse will have around 60 staff.

Most of our current staff are are long term employees.

Q3: Is the emphasis for Sanbah still on hardware? Have you increased or decreased any floor space for apparel and accessories? 

The hardware side of our business is still a huge focus in which we have continued to achieve steady growth in. The Clothing and accessories has however been a real surprise performing beyond our expectations. Expanding the clothing department to nearly double it’s foot print in 2016 has definitely paid off!

Q4: We’ve noticed that Sanbah has a strong online presence both with your online store and social media,  how have found the process of customers purchasing their surfboards online?

We have definitely had an increase in online surf board sales but it still only makes up a very small percentage of our overall board sales. In demand models and hard to find models seem to be the biggest driving force for a consumer to purchase online. It’s the old school way but we guess the consumer still likes to see the board in the flesh, pick it up, throw it under the arm and feel it before they buy it.

Q5: Have you got a team member dedicated to your social media and digital, or is it a team effort?  

Our social media is run by a number of our staff. We all have a bit of fun with it taking photo’s and sharing clips and cool pics. We have two dedicated savvy digital guys looking after all stores.

Q6: In 2016, Rhys mentioned Sanbah was holding up to 1,000 boards instore, has this grown? 

Our surf board holding has stayed pretty constant in the form of units from the last interview, but we have worked hard on carrying the best performing models from our brands. With so many new models constantly popping up it’s a delicate balance to chose the models that will get the stock turns and not eat up valuable rack space.

Q7: The last time Sanbah was interviewed by the SBIA, we asked you if you considered opening another store? Is this on the cards at all?

Yes as mentioned above we have the new store underway and are aiming to open it’s doors late this year. We are very excited about this new store as we feel it has some really cool draw cards to get not only our existing customer base into shop but also capture a whole new demographic of customer. We’re always thinking outside the square so who knows what might happen in the future.

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