Andre Gargiulo – Chief Customer Officer, Sanford

Andre Gargiulo has been involved in fmcg for a long time. He has been with Sanford for three years and has always had a passion for the hospitality industry. Coming from Italian descent, he has long been taught the importance of food and how it facilitates engagement. Recently, the Auckland Fish Market underwent significant renovations to revitalise and modernise a well-established area of Auckland’s history.

“Previously, the Auckland Fish Market was tired; there wasn’t much there. When I first came to Sanford, we sat down and had a look at what the vision could be for us here. The renovations involved with the market was a good chance to showcase what is magnificent about seafood and the vast amounts of uses that seafood has in cuisine.” The renovation process ended up taking around 6-9 months, although the building closed closer to 18 months to prepare it and ensure its longevity. “The developments were something that we wanted everyone to be proud of,” said Gargiulo, “we had to do it right.”

To some, it seemed a long-time coming—the Fish Market was well established with a history that dates a long way back. Why then did it take this much time to invest into it? Gargiulo said, “We wanted to take the time to do the research. We wanted to know exactly what we wanted to achieve, what we wanted to showcase, and who we wanted to be involved in the process.” The developments were clearly something that Sanford had unbridled passion and excitement for. On top of that, it was going to require large amounts of investment of both time and money. The Fish Market's ideal location and the freedom of choice it offers meant that the successfully revamped Auckland Fish Market draws customers in from 11 a.m. until late each day.

There is a vast range of food available at the Auckland Fish Market. “We have a real mix of well-establish brand names who are tried and proven around others sites in Auckland. There is also an exciting amount of young talent that is fresh to the scene.” The combination of the experienced chefs and the energy of the newcomers helps to provide customers with both a brilliant atmosphere/experience and choice in food. Gargiulo believes that New Zealanders are becoming more worldly with their tastes; he believes that we are becoming increasingly interested in trying new foods and even taking some culinary risks. “The restaurants here provide a real eclectic mix, a real diversity of cuisine.” Additionally, Gargiulo discusses the importance of clean eating, and the general trends towards knowing more about the food that one is eating. “Customers want to know where the food is coming from and what we are putting into our bodies. They also want to know whether our practices are sustainable or not.”

Leading on from this, sustainability is something that has been coming up more frequently in recent times. Sanford has been in the fishing industry for over 130 years, and Gargiulo ensures that “the healthiness of the fish stocks in the ocean is as important to us as anybody. We want longevity in this game. We want 130 more years.” Sanford has made an effort to make sure that their methods are sustainable, and the Market is no different. “We use recyclable products wherever we can, and as technology develops, we hope that we can further develop our sustainable practices.”

Sustainability is often a case of education. The Fish Market offers an interactive way to learn about the ocean and the way in which we can work together to prolong its beauty. “There are over 100 species of fish that are good for eating that we fish. We want to be transparent and honest. We want customers to know where the fish comes from and how it has been acquired. We hope that customers will be encouraged to try new varieties knowing that there is nothing to fear. We are lucky enough to have the Auckland Seafood School as well, and that is something that we want to intertwine with the Fish Market so that people can learn directly from the chefs.”

It is clear that Sanford has done what it can to prolong the life of the Auckland Fish Market. The range of culinary experiences is among the best that New Zealand has to offer. The atmosphere is buzzing, and few places are set up in such picturesque locations. Sanford is transparent with their customers and hopes that everyone coming to the Auckland Fish Market will learn more about the charm of what the ocean has to offer. Furthermore, Sanford hopes that people will be encouraged to help take part in an effort to keep the seas safe and act sustainably.