Talking shop: Carly Emery, Mecca

Carly Emery

Welcome to Talking shop, a weekly series where we interview the head of a New Zealand retail business about their growth plans and challenges, and get their thoughts on the latest business trends.

This week, we’re featuring our interview with Carly Emery, country manager for beauty and skincare giant Mecca.

Inside Retail New Zealand: What does Mecca’s offering look like in the New Zealand market today? Stores, concessions, online, etc.

Carly Emery: We currently have 13 stores across New Zealand and our online experience at These house over 75 beauty brands alongside our own signature line brands Mecca Cosmetica and Mecca Max.

IRNZ: What have been some of the big turning points since the retailer launched in New Zealand over 10 years ago?

CE: There have been so many turning points – we like to call Mecca the company of change so there are constantly new and exciting developments in the market.

From recent memory, the launch of our first Mecca Maxima concept in Christchurch in 2015 was huge, bringing brands like Urban Decay and Too Faced to New Zealand for the first time.

We had people lining up waiting for the store to open in the freezing cold for the entire day and although I knew how hardy our Cantabrian customers are, the Melbourne support centre team were very impressed by the commitment.

2018 was also a big year for Mecca New Zealand, particularly the launch of our beautiful new Mecca concept store in Wellington Lambton Quay and then again a few weeks later on Queen Street in Auckland.

IRNZ: With the recent launch of Sephora and a local Adore Beauty site, competition is ramping up in New Zealand’s beauty sector. How is Mecca handling this?

CE: It is fantastic that the New Zealand customer now has more access and choice to meet their beauty needs than ever before.

IRNZ: What are some of the projects you’re currently working on in the New Zealand business – what’s top of mind at the moment?

CE: Mecca as a company has a laser focus on the customer and creating the best experience possible for every single one. Our mantra is for every customer to look and feel their best and we are constantly reassessing what that means from the customer perspective.

Changes ahead of us include creating best practice from a sustainability standpoint, initiatives from M-Power (our philanthropic program that focuses on education for woman and girls both locally and abroad), continually rounding out our offer with a pipeline of new brands, building content creation on our website and upskilling team members with a new intensive artistry training alongside skin services in the very near future.

IRNZ: Are there any particular challenges and/or opportunities for the business in New Zealand?

CE: New Zealand saw really high growth over the past two years, which shows our desire to give NZ everything Australia has (and if I have my way, more), however our Australian business is more established and brand recognition is a lot higher. We feel like there is still so much more opportunity to cement Mecca as the ultimate beauty destination in
NZ and reach a wider range of beauty customers, welcoming them into our stores and/or online to receive the Mecca experience that we are so proud of.

IRNZ: Can you tell us a bit about your professional journey with Mecca? Any thoughts on building a career in retail?

CE: I never intended to have a career in retail and really just fell into it after university but the combination of the fast pace, experimental and customer focussed nature of the industry had me hooked. I was also lucky enough with Mecca to join a company that I absolutely loved and offered an abundance of inspiring mentors.

My initial role was newly created, looking after store replenishment. This was a fantastic insight in the back-end of the business and I am still a stickler for the weekly stock report. Following that I moved into brand management, driving the brand-led strategy and maintaining our close, symbiotic relationships with key brands.

After having my first baby, the family moved back home to Christchurch and I was kept on in a project-based role with the education team and this was when we saw the big shift in growth in New Zealand. The need to have a country manager role evolved from that.

By already being in market, having an outspoken passion for the New Zealand region within the business and my established relationships with support centre in Melbourne, I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to help lead the NZ team as we continue to grow.


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