Woop continues its winning ways
Undertaking research to keep your company at the cutting edge of an industry can be a dry affair. But not for Woop founder Thomas Dietz; he regularly dines at Auckland’s finest restaurants. Thomas (pictured) is the founder and colourful personality behind food kit leaders Woop who recently won the Supreme Award at the Westpac Auckland […]
Undertaking research to keep your company at the cutting edge of an industry can be a dry affair. But not for Woop founder Thomas Dietz; he regularly dines at Auckland’s finest restaurants.
Thomas (pictured) is the founder and colourful personality behind food kit leaders Woop who recently won the Supreme Award at the Westpac Auckland Business Awards, delivered by the Auckland Business Chamber.
Visits to Auckland’s best dining spots are part of the Parisian foodie’s inspiration for his kitchen to create innovative meal boxes, using already prepared beautiful ingredients and hand-crafted sauces delivered to your doorstep.
The meals are aimed at those who want to eat healthy, tasty food and still complete some elements of the cooking process but don’t have the time or energy to prepare large meals every evening. As a chef does so in a restaurant, Woop prepares all the food by dicing fresh, locally sourced vegetables, pre-cutting meats, and preparing sauces so all that customers need to do is combine the elements together and have world-class meals on their table shortly after getting home from a busy day.
Thomas launched Woop in 2015, taking on the original players in the meal box sector, My Food Bag and Hello Fresh. Over 200 people are now involved in preparing and delivering meal kits nationwide.
“Both my wife and I like to cook but love to go out as well – the team at Woop are passionate foodies, always asking about new places,” he says.
Thomas’s favourite restaurant of the moment is Alma, an Andalusian restaurant in Britomart, from the formidable team behind Amano, Ortolana and The Store. He’s also rapturous about the experimental style of Pasture, in Parnell, where a group of just six sit at the chef’s table for a set menu of fine dining described as modern rustic.
Thomas loves the inspiration he finds by dining out and says New Zealand has the best ingredients in the world with lots of inspiration from the mix of ethnicity of origin of recipes.
“There is so much diversity in New Zealand and we gain a lot of inspiration from the mix of ethnicities living here. Kiwis are very well-travelled and curious, bringing new recipes home. It’s part of the culture,” he says.
The food scene has changed massively over last 13 years, since Thomas arrived in New Zealand via France, after stints in Japan, Korea, China and South America.
Woop has grown steadily since inception but did particularly well in the past 12 months including during the height of the Covid-19 lockdown. Unsurprisingly, there was a rapid increase in demand for food kit delivery. At the onset of the pandemic, Woop doubled the number of food deliveries and recruited 39 new staff. They also introduced new initiatives to help customers get through being confined to home, including cocktail kits, baking kits, and surprise treats.
Woop has been the fastest growing Retail or Consumer Products Business on the Deloitte Fast 50 Index for the past two years.
Thomas acknowledges Covid gave Woop a massive push, but believes growth would have happened anyway, it just would have taken a little longer. He has always had big ambitions. He started here in New Zealand in the business of fresh ready-to-eat meals launching TOMeTTE, a venture selling French pre-prepared meals through grocery outlets.
“I moved away from that because I had a bigger appetite in terms of growth,” he says. “We have a team that likes to win together and grow. We have big ambition.”
Thomas is excited about the environmental efforts Woop is making. When food kits first came out packaging was a barrier, but with Woop’s new “Back to Base” policy all the packaging is collected when a new box is dropped off to a customer. “We pick up the old box, sanitise all the icepacks, and refreeze and reuse them. We then sort out soft plastics and any other packing which we send to a dedicated recycler where we know what the end result is.”
He is also proud of the fence posts produced through plastics recycling. They are very popular with vineyards as they have a much longer lifespan than wooden posts.
Another area of pride is minimising food waste. There is so much food waste in the Western world and it’s one of the main producers of CO2 emissions. Woop! customers order only what they need and there is no food starting to go off at the end of the week.
Woop has been on an amazing awards trajectory. They won Best Emerging Business in 2017, both in the Central Region and at Best of the Best. In 2019 they won Excellence in Marketing and were finalists in Excellence in Customer Service Delivery and Excellence in Strategy and Planning. And in 2020 they won the Supreme Central Regional award.
But there is still motivation to win more. “We haven’t won the Customer Service category and we are absolutely dedicated to winning it.” he says.