Community & Purpose
What do women’s fashion and olives have in common?
“This has really resonated with our customers during the pandemic, as they’ve been able to reach out to a business directly that was already quite tangible to them, and not just a paper wrapper on a product on a supermarket shelf. They know who we are, where we are from and what we stand for, and they’ve supported us for these reasons.” - Richard Seymour, General Manager, Mount Zero Olives
Sharon and David Hamilton at their Moorabbin factory, now making PPE during COVID-19. Photo credit: Simon Schluter, The Age
An ANZ customer for more than 50 years, fellahamilton has been in the business of Australian women’s fashion since the early 1970’s.
Today, the company is managed by David Hamilton (son of the eponymous founder) and his wife, Sharon Hamilton, CEO.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Australia in March, times were challenging.
Growing a business during crisis
Within the first few weeks of lockdowns, they had to let go of employees at their Moorabbin factory and retail stores nationally were shut.
However, shortly after, a doctor friend of Sharon’s asked her to make a scrub set, as there was a limited supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The snowball effect
Sharon recalls the moment demand for their washable, hospital-grade PPE started snowballing and a new direction for the business appeared in ‘fellahealthwear’.
“I’m a pharmacist by profession, with many friends in the medical industry. After the first request, I received another, and another, and now we’re making and distributing thousands of scrubs and gowns to GPs, dentists and hospitals. We’ve hired back all of our staff and have never been busier,” says Sharon.
Fortitude and dedication
“Changing direction wasn’t easy,” says David. “It needed us to have intestinal fortitude and complete dedication to what we thought was the right move for our business.”
“The road ahead is going to be tough. While we’re doing well at the moment, we are uncertain about what the future holds, so we need to remain adaptable and agile in response to what may come next from the pandemic.”
Mount Zero Olives is a small, family-owned and operated business in the Grampians in regional Victoria, producing and processing certified organic olives, olive oil and table fruit.
They also partner with local growers to produce a range of pulses and grains. Supplying predominantly to restaurants throughout Australia, the business has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Richard, Jane and Neil Seymour at the Mount Zero olive grove in the Grampians, Victoria.
A changing world
General Manager, Richard Seymour recalls the moment he first realised they were in for tough times.
“I have a really vivid memory of when the pin was pulled on the Melbourne Grand Prix in March and I knew we were in for a world of change.”
An ANZ customer for almost two decades, Richard found himself drawing on his strong relationship with the bank, developing a roadmap to guide the business through the pandemic.
“With the help of ANZ and our business advisor, we put together a vision which saw us quickly pivot to engaging directly with customers through an online platform. In a matter of months, we’ve been able to grow what was around 5% of direct sales to customers, to around 35%.”
Mount Zero’s customers have always valued its sense of brand, the foundation of which, according to Richard, is its proud heritage as a family business that values sustainability and supports ‘local’.
“This has really resonated with our customers during the pandemic, as they’ve been able to reach out to a business directly that was already quite tangible to them, and not just a paper wrapper on a product on a supermarket shelf. They know who we are, where we are from and what we stand for, and they’ve supported us for these reasons.”
“As horrible as the outlook is for many small businesses due to the pandemic, it has presented an opportunity to drive change and come out stronger on the other side, and for that, we’re really grateful,” says Richard.
Emily Kinnear is Manager ESG Governance & Reporting, Group Functions at ANZ
For detailed information on our progress on selected ESG targets see our 2020 ESG Supplement, available on anz.com/annualreport.
Staying local for a brighter future