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8 October, 2021

Locally owned: the ‘Betta’ way to go

HORRIE Kennedy started the business as an electrician in Cairns in 1929 and serviced customers all the way from Thursday Island in the north, and south as far as Tully.

By David Gardiner

The business evolved into a popular regional electrical appliance store in the 1960s and today, 92 years on, has been kept in the family under owners Bill and Leonie Kennedy and their daughters, Amanda and Janelle.

Kennedy’s Betta Home Living has two stores, one in Cairns and the other, Innisfail, providing a range of well-known brands of kitchen and cooking, air-conditioning, small appliances, TVs and audio products.

“Really it’s about relationships and it’s about service particularly,” Janelle Given, Horrie’s granddaughter and general manager of the business says. She adds that it’s not just about selling appliances. “We do the full run from sales right through to in-home installation,” she says. “We also are the largest spare parts distributor in far north Queensland.”

Janelle largely pays tribute to her staff for the great reputation the family believe Kennedy’s has built with retail customers. “Without our staff being knowledgeable, being courteous, having that service - we don’t have a business without them. They are very important stakeholders when it comes to the success of the business”.

Being part of Australia’s largest independent group of retail buyers – Betta – means they can compete head on with the large, so-called ‘big box’ names such as Harvey Norman, offering not only the good service they’re renowned for but also competitive deals and prices. “You don’t have to be big to be good at what you do.”

Kennedy’s also have a lot of trade customers, from the Torres Strait, through to Tully. Having two stores across the region allows them to better cater for customers, a lot of whom are tradies relying on the strong backup parts service that Kennedy’s offers. They can also quickly send models or parts between stores and offer delivery from both.

One of the great advantages of the Betta chain, Janelle says, is the autonomy of owning their stores, rather than just being part of a large company. “We have control of our stock holdings and can order specific products for our customers that other retailers may not be able to do.”

Kennedy’s online ordering has continued to grow since COVID hit, presenting new challenges for all retailers like Kennedy’s - but they have adapted and found ways to refine their door-to-door delivery services.

“We were lucky because with our stockholdings, we have our own warehouses and are able to hold about $2.5-mllion worth of stock.

“We were able to bulk order and have the goods waiting for customers and provide the items when they needed it.”

Kennedy’s has become not only a successful local appliances business, but also a recognised community pillar, sponsoring local sports clubs, providing donations to schools, cancer charities, and aged care facilities.

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