Your biggest asset: human capital

by Lena le Roux. Consideration of the people element of your retail business can affect the success of your retail store.

by Lena le Roux. Consideration of the people element of your retail business can be important food for thought, affecting the success of your retail store. Another term for human resources (HR) is human capital which makes sense, as people contribute to a company’s growth. Each stakeholder or “family member” brings different value adds to the table, and determines the longevity of your assets. Overlooking them could potentially negatively affect your profits.

This is taking into account both the internal and external manpower involved and is categorised below for our “refrigeration family”:

1. In store capability

  • Store Manager
  • Store Refrigeration Champion

2. External Partners

  • Service and Maintenance Providers
  • Contractor / Equipment Suppliers
  • Manufacturer
In store capability

Let us start at the coal face and work back to the beginning. The in store capability is where the most amounts of gains can be made in reducing total cost of ownership (TCO) costs; as well as having great looking refrigeration. Ensuring that there is a daily/weekly checklist in place that can identify issues before they become problems, while maintaining the look and feel of the units is key. How does the unit look? Is it cooling correctly? Is it stocked correctly? Are any cosmetic parts in need of attention? Have routine housekeeping tasks been performed? These are all questions that the diligent refrigeration champion/store manager should be regularly asking of their refrigeration. Then where identified, issues are either rectified inhouse, or subcontracted out to another member of the “family” whilst still retaining control and oversight of the whole picture.

Service and maintenance providers

It is important that this member of the family is reputable, reliable, and capable. They are the ‘in store families’ first point of call in the case of breakdowns and should be an essential partner throughout the store’s life. Be it annual/scheduled services or reactive maintenance calls outs; a good service and maintenance provider will save you money in the long run and to a certain extent, be equally vested in ensuring the well being and robustness of your refrigeration equipment.

These companies will very often be able to provide good guidance when selecting additional equipment when setting up new stores, as they have day to day experience of products in the field and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Contractor and equipment Suppliers

It may be favorable to combine this parnter with the service and maintenance provider, as their business model often complements one another. You should look to entrust your investment capital to companies that are well established and which also come with references and a body of work that is tangible to your requirements. They will be fundamental in guiding you through what is required at an initial investment level; be responsible for ensuring that your equipment is installed, commissioned, and running correctly;  before signing off on the work. They may also be able to include within their services an initial period of maintenance back-up for the equipment supplied.


Identifying the manufacturer(s) of your equipment is a very important task as by the time you realise you may have made the wrong selection; you will have probably already parted with substantial sums of money. You may then have an asset register of non-suitable machines to balance off over the foreseeable future. Whilst selecting a single manufacturer for all your requirements may seem beneficial from an ease of engagement perspective, it may restrict your ability to get the right product for certain applications (remote vs self-contained applications, as an example). So, selecting for competency is an important consideration.

Things such as an established reputation for reliability and durability of their product; accessibility to service and cosmetic parts; energy efficiency of the installed unit; and ability of the unit to perform in its environment, are all key features and characteristics to satisfy as you review your options. Most manufacturers will take great pleasure in engaging with you on your requirements; as well as welcoming you for tours of their facility to view firsthand, where and how the product is made.

In summary, the refrigeration family can be made up of many different companies, each bringing a different skill, as well as playing a valuable role in ensuring the longevity of your assets. The philosophy of longevity should be at the heart of this ‘family’, to help ensure your success.


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Lena le Roux is managing director of Staycold International. She has 27 years of experience in the refrigeration industry; and believes that aligning with the energy efficiency cause, which has a positive impact on the climate, is not a campaign but a culture.





Staycold International is a sponsor on and with Retailing Africa, will be publishing a series of thought leadership articles on the refrigeration industry in South Africa and Africa. Staycold International is a South African refrigeration company which manufactures self-contained commercial fridges and freezers for South Africa and the African continent from their factory in Parys, South Africa. Their business began in 1979 in Parys, where their home base factory is still located; and where they manufacture units primarily for the beverage and hospitality industries. They have been running for over 40 years with the principles of quality, efficiency, performance, reliability and durability.

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