National Liquor News June-July 2024

Page 1


Available via ALM and Paramount
HOSTED BY WEDNESDAY 30 OCTOBER 2024 THE STAR EVENT CENTRE SYDNEY Scan me for tickets! For sponsorship opportunities contact Shane T Williams
IT’S TIME TO HAVE YOUR SAY... Vote now for your favourite liquor industry brands, people, venues and more! Scan me to vote!

Editor’s note

Welcome to the combined June/July issue of National Liquor News, your go-to source for the latest trends, insights, and innovations in Australia’s retail liquor industry.

In a climate of economic difficulties and changing consumer preferences, banner groups have prioritised their members’ success in unique ways. In this issue we publish our mid-year catch up with the key banner groups in Australia: Australian Liquor Marketers, Independent Liquor Group, Thirsty Camel Victoria, Liquor Marketing Group, Liquor Barons, Liquor Legends, and Paramount. Leaders of these groups shared their thoughts on the position of the market, how their banner group is performing, and what strategies they have in place to support and advance their member stores.

Moving outside of Australia, it’s been a big month at NLN headquarters, with members of our team jet setting across the world to bring you the latest news and industry insights. I personally am fresh off the plane from a trip to the Loire Valley in France, where I joined a group of 30 journalists from nine different countries on a journey to discover the richness of the region’s wines and its people. In this issue I provide a brief overview of the trip and the wines that we tasted. But stay tuned for the August issue of National Liquor News

where I’ll be sharing an in-depth exploration of the wines, history, and people of this incredible winemaking region.

Meanwhile, Vanessa Cavasinni attended Vinexpo Asia, which was held in Hong Kong for the first time in six years and was a great occasion for Australian wineries to reconnect with the Chinese market after the lifting of tariffs.

Also in this issue, we shine a spotlight on Adelaide, speaking to six independent liquor retailers about the challenges, opportunities and innovations in the retail liquor space in South Australia.

We also share our regular insights from Retail Drinks Australia, DrinkWise, Circana, Wine Australia, New Zealand Winegrowers, Strikeforce, and eLease Lawyers. Thank you to all of our contributors.

We hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together!

Cheers, Deb

Deb Jackson, Managing Editor 02 8586 6156


Get the facts



41 Bridge Road GLEBE NSW Australia 2037 Tel: 02 9660 2113 Fax: 02 9660 4419

Publisher: Paul Wootton

Managing Editor: Deb Jackson

Senior Journalist: Molly Nicholas

Journalist: Caoimhe HanrahanLawrence

General Manager Sales –Liquor & Hospitality Group: Shane T. Williams

Group Art Director –Liquor and Hospitality: Kea Thorburn

Prepress: Tony Willson

Production Manager: Jacqui Cooper

Subscription Rates

1yr (11

subscribe and to view other overseas rates visit or Call: 1800 651 422 (Mon – Fri 8:30-5pm AEST) Email:

Disclaimer This publication is published by Food and Beverage Media Pty Ltd (the “Publisher”). Materials in this publication have been created by a variety of different entities and, to the extent permitted by law, the Publisher accepts no liability for materials created by others. All materials should be considered protected by Australian and international intellectual property laws. Unless you are authorised by law or the copyright owner to do so, you may not copy any of the materials. The mention of a product or service, person or company in this publication does not indicate the Publisher’s endorsement. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Publisher, its agents, company officers or employees. Any use of the information contained in this publication is at the sole risk of the person using that information. The user should make independent enquiries as to the accuracy of the information before relying on that information. All express or implied terms, conditions, warranties, statements, assurances and representations in relation to the Publisher, its publications and its services are expressly excluded save for those conditions and warranties which must be implied under the laws of any State of Australia or the provisions of Division 2 of Part V of the Trade Practices Act 1974 and any statutory modification or re-enactment thereof. To the extent permitted by law, the Publisher will not be liable for any damages including special, exemplary, punitive or consequential damages (including but not limited to economic loss or loss of profit or revenue or loss of opportunity) or indirect loss or damage of any kind arising in contract, tort or otherwise, even if advised of the possibility of such loss of profits or damages. While we use our best endeavours to ensure accuracy of the materials we create, to the extent permitted by law, the Publisher excludes all liability for loss resulting from any inaccuracies or false or misleading statements that may appear in this publication. Copyright © 2024 - Food and Beverage Media Pty Ltd
and Beverage Media Pty Ltd
The Intermedia Group
issues) for $70.00 (inc GST) 2yrs (22 issues)for $112.00 (inc GST) – Saving 20% 3yrs (33 issues) for $147.00 (inc GST) – Saving 30%
➤ 43 Banner groups put members first ➤ 66 Adelaide retailer spotlight ➤ 60 In the mix 6 | National Liquor News Editor’s note The Intermedia Group takes its Corporate and Social Responsibilities (CSR) seriously and is committed to reducing its impact on the environment. We continuously strive to improve our environmental performance and to initiate additional CSR based projects and activities. As part of our company policy we ensure that the products and services used in the manufacture of this magazine are sourced from environmentally responsible suppliers. This magazine has been printed on paper produced from sustainably sourced wood and pulp fibre and is accredited under PEFC chain of custody. PEFC certified wood and paper products come from environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of forests. The Intermedia Group’s Environmental Responsibility National Liquor News proudly
with Retail Drinks Australia.





June-July 2024


8 Cover Story: Rider Zero Carb Lager is beer without burden

17 News: The latest liquor industry news for retailers around Australia 22 Marketplace: Brand news and promotions

42 Events: An exclusive look into the latest liquor industry events

Industry Focused

32 Retail Drinks: Retail Drinks advocates for NSW liquor retailers

33 DrinkWise: Always respect, always DrinkWise

34 Strikeforce: Strategic use of pack sizes

35 Wine Australia: Wine varieties and consumption trends

36 Peter Hall: Behaviour or attitude change?

37 New Zealand Winegrowers: Pinot Noir New Zealand 2025

38 Leasing: Strategies for managing rising rental costs

39 Shopper Intelligence: Unpacking the gifting opportunity

40 Circana: Ready-to-drink, or not?

Special Features

12 Robert Mondavi Private Selection: Refreshing an icon

14 Agave Lux: Leading the agave spirits revolution

16 White Bay Brewery: Seizing growth with a new brand direction

19 Loire Millésime: We explore the heart of the Loire Valley vineyards

20 Vinexpo: Australian wines shine at Vinexpo 2024

43 Banner Groups: Putting members first

60 Premium Mixers: Consumers continue to indulge in premium mixers

66 Adelaide Retailers: Shining a light on Adelaide’s liquor retailers

72 Company Profile: Empire Liquor builds strong relationships with strong brands

74 Retailer Spotlight: Carlingford Cellar Door packs a punch for its size

8 | National Liquor News

Rider Zero Carb Lager –Beer Without Burden

Rider Zero Carb Lager will continue to offer an exciting option for drinkers looking for great taste and zero carbs.

Rider Zero Carb Lager, previously on the market as Rider Lite, has received a package refresh to dial up its key functional benefit of zero carbs, which will be supported by a wide-ranging marketing campaign.

Rider Zero Carb Lager offers an approachable flavour profile and better-for-you attributes that appeal to consumers looking for refreshing choices without the guilt.

Brand Manager Emily Creer has been impressed with the response that the beer has received in early stages of launch.

“We’re really pleased with the launch of Rider and how our ‘Beer without Burden’ approach is resonating with Aussie drinkers in its first few months in market,” she said.

The beer category is a major traffic driver for liquor, and Circana identifies contemporary beer as the strongest segment. Boasting 36.3 per cent value share and retail sales of $2.7 billion, contemporary beer has a growth rate of 3.8 per cent. This has primarily been driven by innovation in new product development.

Good Drinks Australia created Rider to address barriers that the team saw for Australian consumers, including bitter taste profiles and perceptions of heaviness.

Mindful consumption, low bitterness, and value are major trends influencing the beer category, and Rider Zero Carb Lager appeals to all three. In particular, beers with low bitterness have been gaining share among Australian consumers. Additionally,

low carb beer is growing ahead of standard category growth, and beers under 100 calories are growing at twice that rate.

Creer is confident that the new Rider Zero Carb Lager branding and packaging will attract more consumers looking for a zero carb option.

She says: “We’d like to thank the trade and consumers for their ongoing support of our innovative new brand Rider as we navigated the issues surrounding advertising of electrolyte claims on our initial packaging and POS. Rider Zero Carb Lager has a great new name and the refreshing beer that we launched with remains the same.

“We’re excited about what’s to come for Rider and making an impact in the Aussie market, with new packaging landing in trade now. Keep an eye out for Rider Zero Carb Lager on your screens with a new TVC screening throughout June.”

Visit to find out more and contact Good Drinks Australia to discuss how to range and support Rider Zero Carb Lager in your store. ■

“Rider Zero Carb Lager has a great new name and the refreshing beer that we launched with remains the same.”
Emily Creer, Brand Manager,
Zero Carb Lager
10 | National Liquor News Cover Story
To discuss a campaign, contact Shane T. Williams E: M: 0431857765 2024 Trade Buyers GuideTasting & Report Occassions People & Places Category Insights August Aussie & International Prosecco Father’s Day South Australian Regional Drinks Rum & White Cane Spirits September Aussie & International Gin Organic Drinks Northern Rivers Regional Drinks Summer Beer Retailing The Rosé Report October Sparkling & Champagne (includes Prosecco) Aperitivo Summer Drinks Day of the DeadMexican Inspired Drinks RTD and Canned Cocktails November North American Whiskey Christmas Tassie Regional Drinks Summer Beer, Cider & Seltzer Scotch & Irish Whisk(e)y Report DecemberJanuary Chardonnay & White Burgundy Chinese New Year ALIA What’s Hot to Stock for 2025 Australian Made Drinks 2025 Trade Buyers GuideTasting & Report Occassions People & Places Category Insights February 2025 Annual Leaders Forum March Tequila, Mezcal, Raicilla, Agave Spirit World Whisk(e)y Day Cognac & Brandy Ginger & Fruit Flavoured Beers April Riesling & Semillion World Cocktail Day Family Wineries RTD & Seltzer Mother’s Day May Australian Whisky Aperitivo Winter Drinks New Zealand Drinks Winter Beer Retailing June-July Pinot Noir & Burgundy NOLO Drinks Retail Banner Groups Premium Mixers Book your 3 step trade customer campaign into our features, trends and insights calendar for 2024/25

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Vint: Refreshing an icon

As Robert Mondavi Private Selection celebrates its 30th anniversary, the Californian winemaker has evolved its brand with a packaging refresh that reflects today’s taste.

First launched in 1994, Robert Mondavi Private Selection is celebrating 30 years of exceptional winemaking, and in tradition of Robert Mondavi’s pioneering winemaking the brand has refreshed its image to mark the momentous milestone.

Not only a longstanding brand in the Australian market, Robert Mondavi Private Selection has pioneered unique expressions, and to reflect today’s modern style, Robert Mondavi Private Selection has modernised itself as Robert Mondavi Private Selection Vint.

Starting in 2024, Robert Mondavi Private Selection gives a renewed ambition to Robert Mondavi’s timeless approach and carries the same winemaking tradition forward.

The Robert Mondavi Private Selection brand has been pivotal in driving Californian appellation and buttery Chardonnay varietals in the Australian market, and while the bold flavours and easy drinking wines are made for the modern palate, the brand refresh also reflects today’s taste.


simply, Vint means to


wine and with the refreshment of the brand we wanted to pay homage to the winemaking craft that goes into each bottle of Robert Mondavi Private Selection Vint.”

Explaining why the name Robert Mondavi Private Selection Vint was chosen in the brand refresh, the Robret Mondavi Private Selection Vint team said: “Put simply, Vint means to produce wine and with the refreshment of the brand we wanted to pay homage to the winemaking craft that goes into each bottle of Robert Mondavi Private Selection Vint.

“With a wealth of heritage behind us, we felt that the 30th birthday marked a pivotal moment to refresh the brand and to help define the Private Selection level within the Robert Mondavi brand portfolio.”

“Not only does the new pack deliver a freshness and modernity to the brand but with the renewed love of big, bold, buttery Chardonnays

and the success of Californian wines in the Australian market we felt the timings aligned to refresh the pack.”

With no changes to the liquid, Robert Mondavi Private Selection Vint is simply refreshing an icon, and all four of the SKUs in the Australian market have undergone a pack refresh to reflect a new, modern look.

Through this transition, research conducted by the brand has found that consumers are favouring the new packaging. Of targeted consumers, 67 per cent stated that they found the Robert Mondavi Private Selection Vint design to be more appealing than the previous pack, using the phrases “modern”, “looks better” and “stands out” to describe its visual appeal.

Further, it was crucial to the winemaker that the transition did not confuse consumers, and 84 per cent of those surveyed agreed that Robert Mondavi Private Selection Vint was identifiable as a redesign of Robert Mondavi Private Selection.

“It is the same liquid that our consumers know and love,” added the Robert Mondavi Private Selection Vint team.

“We have refreshed the packaging but not the wine, so consumers can feel confident that their favourite has not changed. The new packaging is twofold, we hope to engage new consumers as well as make sure that point of purchase consumers are aware of the progression and can identify the bottle on the shelf.”

For more information, or to range Robert Mondavi Private Selection Vint, reach out to Dean Kornman on or 0407 995 307. ■

12 | National Liquor News Sponsored Content

Same great wine New modern look

Drink Responsibly.

Agave Lux leads the agave spirit revolution

As the agave spirits category continues to expand, Agave Lux is bringing an education-led approach to the young Australian market.

A dynamic shift in the global spirits market has seen the rapid growth of agave spirits, a category which has seen increased uptake for the last five years, forecast to grow at seven per cent volume CAGR between 2021 and 2026.

Despite this, one of the biggest challenges facing the category is consumers’ understanding of agave spirits, and importantly, how to drink them. Most spirits categories have a simple serving occasion, such as gin and tonic or rum and coke, and while agave can have these occasions too, there is still room for education.

As the on-premise pushes category education through serving suggestions and sampling, the trends coming out of the on-premise are vital to category growth in retail. According to Reece Griffiths, Education and Experience Lead at Agave Lux, cocktails have been the driving force behind Australia’s adapting taste for agave.

“We are still seeing the category grow year-onyear in Australia, mostly driven by the rise of the Margarita but also by a return of tequila in the nightlife landscape,” he says.

Education is the mantra

Historically dominated by major producers, an upward growth trajectory has laid the pathway for independent producers and distributors to flourish, and if the continued boom in the US market is an indication of what will follow, Howard Baynie, Co-Founder of Agave Lux, sees

a lucrative opportunity in Australia’s young agave spirits market.

“We’ve seen agave spirits crush rum sales in 2017. In 2023 the trend continued, surpassing American whiskey and now agave spirits firmly has vodka in its sights. As we attempt to move into the number one spot for alcohol sales in the US, this global rise of agave spirits will certainly see similar consumption growth here in Australia” he says.

At Agave Lux, the mission is a simple one, creating an Australian community of agave lovers who support and champion the independent Mexican artisan and ensure the legacy is continued for generations to come.

Having started as brand owners but struggling to find an Australian distributor for Estancia Raicilla back in 2015, the team identified a clear educational gap which triggered them to commence importation and distribution themselves.

“We uncovered a clear educational gap in the marketplace, we started with one product and ground our way through to a portfolio that boasts close to 200 products,” says Baynie.

“Within the retail space, we focus on education through providing key points of difference in our ranging choices. Not only does this help stimulate conversation with consumers, it allows us to activate multiple sections within a retail outlet with educational information to help reduce buyer nervousness, explain the production process and disrupt the shopper.” ■

Alternative agaves thrive

While agave spirits are known traditionally for tequila, which delivers the bulk of agave spirits volume sold in Australia, consumers are beginning to explore the diversity of mezcal, raicilla and other agave spirits, and with over 200 classified species of agave, there is a never-ending choice.

Baynie says:

“Consumers uncover unrivalled complexity, aroma and intrigue with each sip. Inside each sip is time that it took to grow, cook, crush, ferment, distill and even age, which unlocks a beautiful history and family story that can transcend centuries of handcrafted production.”

14 | National Liquor News Category Insight


our latest Trade Buyer’s Guide now.
For comprehensive
Scan the QR
to download!
To submit products and view the 2024 trade buyer’s guide schedule, please contact: Shane T Williams

White Bay Brewery seizes growth with new brand direction

A packaging redesign, new-to-market beer and Sydney Swans partnership are setting White Bay up for a formative year.

Located at the foot of Sydney’s Anzac Bridge, in just four years White Bay Brewery has embedded itself as a leading brewery despite the challenges facing the craft beer industry.

With independent creative agency Richards Rose on board as an equity partner, the brewery recently unveiled a brand refresh featuring a minimalist design anchored by the iconic ‘W’ logo.

White Bay Co-Founder Adam TrippeSmith says: “White Bay’s new brand direction is part of our strategy to step away from being an inner west craft brewery to being Sydney’s Brewery.

“We wanted a fresh contemporary look that appeals to current and new beer drinkers. Rather than being led by beer names, we want our consumers to easily identify our brand via the W.”

Coinciding with the rebrand, White Bay has launched a new-to-market beer style, Extra Pale Lager, and with just 12 grams of carbs and four per cent ABV, Extra Pale Lager sits in its own category within the portfolio as a better-for-you option.

Responding to consistent feedback that modern pale ales often aren’t sessionable, Jackson Davey, White Bay Senior Sales Manager, says: “Extra Pale Lager offers an alternative to the lagers leaned on by beer drinkers when there is a lack of interesting but suitable options.

“It’s a style that isn’t very common in the beer market, and we believe there is demand for it. XPL was built to be sessionable but not flavourless, hoppy but not obnoxious, and a please-all for when drinkers want to have more than two of something without battling palate fatigue.”

“Our next phase is scaling up with a more focused brand. We’ve added a hero beer to our portfolio and will focus on mainstream awareness to allow us to grow our availability and secure our reputation further.”
Mandy Long, White Bay Operations Manager

Going against the grain

Off-premise customers can expect to see a few changes to the portfolio as White Bay pursues its new brand direction, including the renaming of Sunny Pale Ale to Hazy Pale. While all industries are subject to inflation, White Bay is going against the grain, moving from a 355ml can to 375ml. Despite the core range upsizing, pricing won’t change, apart from that of Czech Pilsner, formerly Gantry

Crane, which is reduced as it downsizes from 440ml to 375ml.

Mandy Long, White Bay Operations Manager, says: “Our next phase is scaling up with a more focused brand. We’ve added a hero beer to our portfolio and will focus on mainstream awareness to allow us to grow our availability and secure our reputation further.”

Looking to the year ahead, Trippe-Smith says the brewery is excited to spread its enthusiasm and add value for customers – a mission which will be supported by its latest capital raise of $1m, demonstrating investors’ confidence in the business.

“Raising new capital has been important to strengthen our financial position and invest in our team, our brand and our production capacity,” he said.

Further expanding its presence, White Bay has entered a three-year deal as the official beer of Sydney Swans, a move that the brewery describes as a “key pillar” in the strategy to bolster its reputation as a leading Sydney brewery and brand.

“As a business whose first 2.5 years were spent in and out of lockdowns, our biggest opportunity is to finally have an uninterrupted run at the market. Having good news and an excellent product in the face of instability in our industry can only help us stand out as a viable option from the retailers’ perspective,” added Davey. ■

16 | National Liquor News Sponsored Content

Australian Vintage feeling debt pressure

With merger talks with Accolade Wines ending unsuccessfully, Australian Vintage asked for a suspension of its shares on the ASX on 23 May, after announcing debt levels could be over 50 per cent higher than previous estimates.

The company requested the suspension remains in place until it is able to make a statement in relation to its proposed capital raising and debt refinancing, which it hopes to make in mid-June.

Australian Vintage said its net debt as of 30 June 2024 is expected to be in the order of $7075m, significantly up on its previous management expectations and guidance to the market of $43-50m.

This follows the news that Australian Vintage terminated the contract of former CEO Craig Garvin over undisclosed behaviour that was “inconsistent with the values of the company”.

Fever-Tree elevates everyday refreshment with new soda range

Dedicated to crafting the finest drinks, Fever-Tree has unveiled its latest product line, a selection of 250ml soda cans designed to satisfy adult palates and serve as a premium mixer for spirits.

Caroline Wood, Head of Marketing ANZ at Fever-Tree, says: “Fundamentally, we think adults deserve something better. That’s why we’ve created a range of drinks crafted to suit adult tastes; delicious and refreshing – less sweet, low in calories, but still full of flavour.”

The new range introduces popular Fever-Tree flavour combinations Pink Grapefruit soda, Lime & Yuzu soda and Ginger Beer in a 250ml can format, along with the addition of a new flavour, Sicilian Lemon.

Sicilian lemons, grown and handpicked in the foothills of Mount Etna and across Sicily, undergo a meticulous process called sfumatrice to extract both the oils from and peel and juice of the fruit, resulting in a fresh, zesty, more rounded and delicate flavour.

“We are excited to introduce our new Sicilian Lemon soda to the range. It embodies our commitment to providing adults with sophisticated, flavourful beverages that cater to their discerning tastes,” added Wood.

Already available in Woolworths, the 250ml can range is now set to roll out to independent retailers via Australian Liquor Marketers and Paramount.

Australian wine export market stabilises

The latest Wine Australia Export Report indicates that the Australian wine export market entered a period of relative stability in the 12 months to March 2024, which has been experiencing a steady decline over recent years. Total export value declined one per cent to $1.88b, and volume dropped by two per cent to 611m litres.

Growth in some Asian and European markets, such as Hong Kong and the UK, was offset by a decline in exports to North America and other Asian countries, such as Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Peter Bailey, Market Insights Manager, Wine Australia, explained that this is an overall positive sign for the Australian export market.

“While we expect volatility to continue at an individual market level, data from recent quarters suggest that overall declines have stabilised, and a more positive sales trajectory is ahead,” he said.

While exports to mainland China increased during the period, the recent removal of import duties on Australian wine had little impact on the report’s data.

June-July 2024 | 17

Highlighting Prosecco DOC’s story of origin

On 29 May, The Consortium of Prosecco DOC held an event to promote its Italian Genio campaign.

The Consortium of Prosecco DOC and the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Australia joined together to host a Prosecco Drinks and Talks event in Sydney, promoting the distinctly Italian identity of Prosecco DOC.

Located in the north-east of Italy, Prosecco DOC has a long history, with the region first identified for its wine production by Pliny the Elder in the first century CE. Now, the region is home to more than 12,000 grapegrowers, 1,200 winemakers, and 360 sparkling houses, producing 600 million bottles of wine per year.

Of the wine produced in Prosecco, 80 per cent is exported, with France as a key market and Australia representing 15 per cent of the total export volume, or seven million bottles per year.

Tanja Barattin, Promotional Department Manager of the Consortium, explained that this is a crucial time for Prosecco DOC.

“Prosecco has had critical growth in the last few years, in a very short time. But sometimes there is misunderstanding about

what Prosecco is, where it comes from, the link to the territory of origin, the methods of production, and the different typologies,” she said.

Prosecco DOC’s brand campaign seeks to clarify this confusion by focusing on the wine’s Italian Genio, or Italian origin.

Italian Wine Society principal sommelier Daniel Marcella, who led guests through an eight wine tasting on the night, explained the transportive appeal of Prosecco DOC.

“One thing that I always love to say is that Italian wines have something a little bit extra compared to any other wine. It’s an extra level of culture. When we speak about La Dolce Vita, we’re speaking about belonging to Italy. When you drink a glass of Prosecco, it’s not just to taste it. You need to close your eyes and travel to Italy with your senses,” he said.

Marcella emphasised the variety to be found across the Prosecco DOC category, with varying levels of residual sugar, up to 15 per cent inclusion of other grape varieties, and a growing number of rosé options. He

also highlighted the impressive bottle designs that we see in many Prosecco DOC wines, reflecting an Italian love for art and design.

In a panel discussion after the tasting, Barattin explained the reasoning behind the Italian Genio campaign.

“We wanted to make the direct connection between Prosecco and Italy clear. Prosecco is the name of an area, of nine provinces in two regions, and it’s where the native variety of Glera finds its best expression. The people there have been making Prosecco for generations.

“In our region, Prosecco is part of our everyday routine. There’s not a day without a glass of Prosecco,” she said.

In addition, Prosecco DOC wine must undergo a rigorous quality testing process before it is allowed to label itself as being from the Prosecco region, making it simpler for a consumer to choose a bottle of Prosecco DOC wine. The Italian Genio campaign seeks to promote the idea that Italian Prosecco is not just wine with a high standard of quality, but also a piece of Italian culture. ■

18 | National Liquor News News

Millésime Loire 2024

Last month, National Liquor News was lucky enough to join a group of 30 journalists from nine countries on a journey to the Loire Valley in France, to discover the richness of its wines and its people.

Over the course of five days, we tasted our way through 380 beautiful wines from across the Loire Valley, while meeting the winemakers and learning all about the wines and the rich history of the region.

We started with exploring the vibrant bubbles of Crémant de Loire, followed by a boat ride along the Loire River, enjoying a diverse selection of Anjou wines. After this, we learnt about the new Saumur Blanc Geographical Denominations going from the Berrye Fortress to Saumur Castle, through Brézé Castle, before ending the day with a wine pairing dinner celebrating Vouvray and Chenin Blanc.

The next day began with a masterclass on Loire Valley wines from Auvergne to Nantais, discovering the impact of terroirs on the expression of PGI Val de Loire white wines along the river. This was followed by a free tasting of PGI Val de Loire rosé wines and Anjou Cru Chenin Blanc.

After this, we took a deep dive into the Melon Blanc grape variety by learning about the different terroirs and how they

influence Muscadet wines. We then made our way to the incredibly unique and iconic estate, Clos Cristal, to learn about the Saumur-Champigny appellation and meet winemakers from the area while tasting their wines (of course).

Next up, it was a free tasting of three shades of Sauvignon Blanc (Touraine, Touraine Chenonceaux, and Touraine Oisly) alongside Pineau d’Aunis wines from Coteaux du Loir and Coteaux du Vendômois. This was followed by a masterclass to understand the different expressions of the Côt grape variety of the Loire (also known as Malbec).

We then enjoyed a gourmet picnic paired with white Coteaux du Loir and Coteaux du Vendômois wines on the grounds of the historic Fontevraud Abbey. After this, we made our way to Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil to learn about the geology of the soils from three different terroirs, while tasting some incredible Cabernet Franc wines.

In the Loire Valley, you can find a little bit of everything, from sparkling, rosé, white, red, sweet, off dry. The wines are bursting with freshness, are highly drinkable and pair perfectly with food.

Speaking to Pierre-Jean Sauvion, President of the Communications

Committee of Vins de Loire, about Loire Valley wines, he put it quite simply, saying: “We’re the best region in the world.”

He said: “You can find a glass of Loire Valley wine for every single hour of the day, and it really is that simple. Because our wines are so diverse.”

Australia is a growing export market for Loire Valley wines and rosé is currently the top export, with Sauvignon Blanc and sparkling the other key varietals already in our market. But there is still a huge opportunity within the Australian market to explore all that the Loire Valley has to offer, including its vibrant reds.

Sauvion says: “Australian people have knowledge about wine and while there is unbelievable wine produced in Australia, it is very different to the wines of the Loire, which is very good, because our wines are very complementary, and every day is a day to discover a different wine.

“The Loire Valley produces the perfect wine for your food, for your weather, just try it, drink it, and you will adopt it,” he says.

Stay tuned for the August issue of National Liquor News for a full report from our trip to the Loire Valley and an in-depth exploration of the wines, history, and people of this incredible winemaking region. ■

The Loire Valley is steeped in history, with 42,000ha of wine-growing area along the Loire River, and a thriving, high quality wine industry, as Deb Jackon discovered.
June-July 2024 | 19 News

Australian wines on show

Vinexpo Asia was held in Hong Kong for the first time in six years, and was a great occasion for Australian wineries to reconnect with the Chinese market after the lifting of tariffs. By Vanessa Cavasinni.

From 28 to 30 May, exhibitors and visitors from all over the world poured into Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre for Vinexpo Asia 2024, the leading industry event for wine and spirits professionals in Asia-Pacific. Over the course of the expo, more than 1,000 exhibitors represented 35 nations, with 14,000 people attending the show.

Vinexposium CEO Rodolphe Lameyse got the expo officially underway on Tuesday 28 May with an opening ceremony, stating that the industry was operating in a difficult landscape, but that Asia was proving to be a crucial market for the wine and spirits industries globally.

“Our return to Hong Kong brings a wave of optimism and hope. Indeed Asia, and specifically China, is proving to be the key market for industry and demonstrates strong dynamics,” he said.

Reconnecting with China

Australian producers and distillers had a significant showing at Vinexpo Asia, the third largest after France and Italy. Wine Australia CEO Dr Martin Cole took the opportunity to sit down with National Liquor News and discuss the show’s importance for Australian wineries in Asia.

Cole’s assessment of Vinexpo Asia was that it was extremely

positive for Australian exhibitors, introducing their wines to new markets, as well as reconnecting with China.

The reconnection, of course, is in relation to the Chinese buyers looking to re-establish trade with Australian wineries after the lifting of tariffs on Australian wine. Pre-tariffs, China made up more than a third of Australian wine exports, with a value of $300400m, and the hope is that wine exports to China can get back to those levels.

Richard Burch, Sales Director of Howard Park Wines, spent the first day of Vinexpo in meetings, which were a good mix of re-catch-ups with former partners, and meeting new buyers. He told National Liquor News it was a good first step.

“I’m really excited about a lot of those discussions. Obviously there’s a lot of work to do. It’s one thing to have those meetings, but it’s all about the follow up and the continuation, but there seems to be a really good energy and a good buzz,” stated Burch.

“We’re just putting our best case forward, putting our best wines forward and forming those relationships or reestablishing those existing ones.”

Despite there being plenty of excitement for Australian wines, Cole explained that the demands and tastes of the Chinese consumer have changed in the last few years.

The Australian pavilion was one of the busiest sections of the expo 20 | National Liquor News Vinexpo Asia 2024

“In terms of the positioning within China, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about pricing. We had the top spot in terms of premium wines, we had a 30 per cent share of premium wine in China, at USD$19 per bottle and right above that. But I think we’re seeing changes to the consumer demand for different products,” he said.

Premium offerings are still sought after, particularly with sparkling wines, as attested by Danika Windrim, Marketing Manager of House of Arras.

“There’s definitely an appetite for premium offerings. We’re actually only going to be selling into China, the House of Arras range from Brut Elite and above. In Australia, Brut Elite retails for $65. We’re taking the premium stance, and we feel that that’s the best fit for building the brand in that market for the long term.”

A diverse wine nation

While rebuilding trade in China is a key focus for Wine Australia, engaging with new markets and maintaining a diversification strategy is still a priority. Another focus is encapsulating the magnitude and diversity of Australia’s wine offer, having recently undergone a rebranding to capture this.

“I don’t think anywhere in the world, would you find the diversity that we’ve got in our vines. We’ve got 100 varieties, 65 wine regions. Look at our soils, our climates, the people that make our wine, they’ve all got a unique storyteller,” said Cole.

“We’re trying to capture that amazing diversity. So, think of ancient lands with a modern approach. You’re able to go from earthy to elegant, from lean to lush, you know, so we should celebrate that diversity and the quality of our wines, and the ability to service all sorts of different demands and markets in that space.”

That messaging was clearly received from the buyers at Vinexpo Asia this year. Evan Gill, Estate Sommelier for Vasse Felix in Margaret River said questions about the region played a bigger role in conversations this year.

“Coming from the youngest region of Western Australia, it’s been really refreshing to have people wanting to know more about Australian wine, rather than just saying ‘Can I try your Shiraz?’ Which is fine, but what has been really interesting is people being interested in ‘Where exactly are you? And what is your terroir? And what is your culture of winemaking?’” explained Gill.

Australian wine creates a buzz

With an attendance of 14,203 visitors from 60 countries over three days, Lameyse was relieved with the warm reception Vinexpo Asia received in Hong Kong, being the first time the show had returned to Hong Kong post-Covid following a six-year hiatus.

In particular, Lameyse noted a buzz around the Australian stand, thanks to the dropping of tariffs on Australian wine in China.

He said: “The Aussie folks are checking if they have enough wine to serve, because there were so many people [at that part of the expo].

I think Australia is very excited, and exciting for the Chinese who desperately need wines from Australia.”

Château Tanunda proprieter John Gerber agrees, calling Australian wine “sunshine in a glass”.

“The Chinese market loves Australian wines. They’re big, bold and fruit-sweet, and can handle big dishes. We’ve got very good quality wines with value for money – particularly in the Barossa. Australian wines are sunshine in a glass.”

Overall, Vinexpo Asia was an excellent show for Australian wineries to reconnect with the Chinese market in particular. As Burch puts it, it was a great first step to re-establishing trade with our biggest international wine buyer.

“I think the future for Australian wines has got some nice bright sparks there, we just need to pursue it and keep at it.” ■

June-July 2024 | 21 Vinexpo Asia 2024


Brand news and promotions

Strangelove launches Tropical Spiced Pineapple Mixer

Premium Australian mixer brand Strangelove has added another enticing beverage to its portfolio, designed to bring a little bit of summer love into the cooler months.

The Tropical Spiced Pineapple Mixer was designed to elevate any quality rum, tequila or mezcal. With notes of pimento and coffee underscoring sweet juicy pineapple, this mixer is perfect to provide a playful summer twist on a range of classic cocktails, from Pina Coladas to spritzes to margaritas and much more. Plus, it’s a great ingredient for simple mixer and spirit combos, making a refreshing pairing for a range of premium spirits.

Strangelove Tropical Spiced Pineapple Mixer is also proudly Australian made, featuring Australian pineapple juice.

Distribution: For a free sample, simply email

Introducing The Aromantiques: The latest must-have wine to inspire the senses

Son of A Nun elevates better-for-you beer


Born out of a belief that nobody should be left out from having a toast with mates, Son of A Nun offers a range of better-for-you beers designed to suit every lifestyle including low carb and no- and low-alcohol beers.

Made for lager lovers in the search of guilt-free beers, the Son of A Nun range is made using only the finest ingredients, and brewed to perfection in an Australian family-owned brewery in country NSW.

The latest addition to the product line is Son of A Nun Mid Strength, a refreshing low-carb beer with tropical fruit like hop aroma, and a crisp and clean taste, complemented by a mild hop bitterness that adds a slight herbal and citrus note.

At three per cent ABV and just 75 calories, Son of A Nun Mid Strength responds to consumer demand for healthier alternatives and lower strength beers, joining the core range of Son of A Nun Low Carb and Son of A Nun Zero Alcohol.

Distribution: Direct

An expressive new wine range has launched in Australia, with a suite of aromatic varieties designed to inspire the senses.

The Aromantiques’ inaugural release includes a Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Rosé, and (a perfect for winter) GSM blend. The wines are crafted with fruit from select South Australian wine regions, including the Clare Valley, Langhorn Creek, McLaren Vale, and the Barossa Valley.

The range caters to a new wave of wine drinkers who care about both style and substance in their wine choices. The innovative bottle design, with a glass stopper and a sleek bottle shape reminiscent of a high-end perfume, takes inspiration from the fashion and beauty categories.

“The approach to crafting this wine is slightly different, it’s both a visual and sensory-driven journey when you experience a glass of The Aromantiques,” commented Adam Eggins, Chief Winemaker.

“This impacted every stage of the process, from the extremely gentle handling of fruit at harvest to retain the delicate varietal nuances, through to the use of minimal to no oak in the maturation process to protect and showcase the expressive fruit flavours of the wine.”

The Aromantiques is available for RRP $30. Distribution: Taylors Wines

22 | National Liquor News

Tullamore D.E.W unveils a fresh twist on 200 years of whiskey tradition

Award-winning Tullamore D.E.W has launched a fresh new look, with an updated design that honours the brand’s roots in Tullamore and gives a nod to its close to 200-year-old tradition of whiskey making.

The modern label makes Tullamore town the star, with a palette of rich greens mirroring the Irish countryside where the town is located. The eye-catching design also tips its hat to the brand’s history, putting a spotlight on the iconic Irish wolfhound illustration.

Packaging refresh for Robert Mondavi Private

Selection Vint

The much-loved buttery Chardonnay and spirit barrel aged wine brand has had a refresh, with Robert Mondavi Private Selection Vint being the modernisation of the renowned Robert Mondavi Private Selection.

In the tradition of Robert Mondavi’s pioneering winemaking, the brand is refreshing its packaging to reflect today’s modern style, made with the same timeless craft, with a refreshed modern sensibility.

Wondering why the wolfhound? It’s all thanks to Desmond E. Williams, grandson of founder Daniel E. Williams, who had a soft spot for dogs and a vision to bring Tullamore D.E.W to new drinkers all over the world. He wanted a symbol that captured the brand’s community values – loyalty, friendship and strength – and commissioned the original drawing of the wolfhound, which first appeared on the bottle in the 1950s.

Now, the proud hound is front and centre of every bottle of Tullamore D.E.W across the globe.

Tullamore D.E.W is the original triple blend Irish whiskey. By combining three spirits, the blend offers three dimensions of flavour – malt whiskey giving fruit, pot still whiskey giving spice and grain whiskey giving sweet. The three spirits come together to create a balance of flavour like no other in the category.

Distribution: Contact your local William Grant & Sons Australia representative on 02 9409 5100 or

The new pack calls out the sought-after Californian appellation and varietal to help consumers clearly identify the wines on-shelf. This is only a pack refresh, and with the same liquid in each bottle consumers can be assured that their favourite wine has not changed.

All four varietals will be refreshed throughout 2024 with Buttery Chardonnay transitioning on-shelf first, followed by Chardonnay Aged in Bourbon Barrels, Cabernet Sauvignon Aged in Bourbon Barrels and Merlot Aged in Rum Barrels.

Distribution: Direct


Scottish whisky giant Whyte & Mackay partners with Vanguard Luxury Brands

Vanguard Luxury Brands has announced an exclusive distribution partnership in Australia with Whyte & Mackay, giving customers access to several renowned Scotch whisky brands, including The Dalmore Single Malt Whisky, Jura Single Malt Whisky, Fettercairn Single Malt Whisky and Tamnavulin Single Malt Whisky.

Michael Cox, Head of Sales at Vanguard Luxury Brands, says the addition of Whyte & Mackay to the Vanguard portfolio only bolsters its vision to champion the best brands.

“We could not be more thrilled at the opportunity to solidify our role in the single malt space with these highly sought after products and continue our mission to shape the premium drinks culture in Australia,” he added.

The new partnership is expected to accelerate both brands’ shared vision to shake up the whisky landscape, leveraging Vanguard’s reputation and relationships within the premium drinks market.

Distribution: Vanguard Luxury Brands

Fever-Tree adds to cocktail mixer range

Fever-Tree has introduced two delicious new additions to its range of premium cocktail mixers which make enjoying fantastic, quality cocktails at home as easy as making a G&T.

With only two ingredients, and three simple steps, you can impress without the stress: simply add your spirit to your Fever-Tree cocktail mixer of choice, shake (or stir) and serve.

Due to the popular success of the Mojito and Margarita mixers, Fever-Tree’s new range includes two additional classic cocktails. The Mango Passionfruit Martini and Espresso Martini are each expertly crafted with the same expertise as the brand’s award-winning mixers, and will be joining the family of Fever-Tree’s premium cocktail mixers range.

Made with some of the world’s finest naturally sourced ingredients including coffee beans sourced close to home in Bali, they also contain absolutely no artificial sweeteners.

The Mango Passionfruit, Margarita and Mojito SKUs are now available through ALM and Paramount, with Espresso Martini to follow in December.

Distribution: Contact Fever-Tree for your local sales rep at

Ampersand enters dark spirit RTD category with Whisky Dry & Lime

The RTD category is one of the fastest expanding liquor markets, expected to grow at a rate of +12 per cent volume between 2022 and 2027 with all RTD segments recording significant growth.

As the category matures new product development is evolving, and market leader Ampersand Projects is expanding its portfolio by entering the dark spirit RTD category with the release of Whisky Dry & Lime.

Following the success of the & brand in light RTD, this expansion is a natural progression for the brand which has built a loyal customer base. Using Australian whisky paired with dry and lime, the premium Australian product is set to disrupt a sea of global competitors.

In response to consumer demand for higher strength and healthconscious RTDs, and in line with trends in the light RTD category, Whisky & Dry Lime sits at an ABV of six per cent and is made with no sugar, gluten-free and low calorie.

Whisky Dry & Lime is available now at an RRP of $27 for a four-pack.

Distribution: Available via all wholesalers nationally

24 | National Liquor News Marketplace

Doozy expands national footprint with new flavour profile

Focused on pushing the boundaries of innovation in the RTD category, Doozy has launched a new 50:50 flavour profile, blending vodka iced tea and lemonade.

Doozy Half & Half is available in two flavours, Vodka Iced Tea & Lemonade with Raspberry, a half iced tea, half lemonade blend with notes of raspberry, and a classic Vodka Iced Tea & Lemonade with hints of peach.

With RTD consumption now accounting for 13 per cent of total liquor sales in Australia, the team behind Doozy believe that the new flavour combinations will capture consumer interest, responding to demand for full flavour pre-mixed adult beverages.

Will Hayward, Doozy Co-Founder and Sydney Swans crowd favourite commented: “With Doozy Half & Half, we’re not just mixing drinks, we’re mixing things up. We’re taking two already awesome things and creating something entirely new and exciting.

Introducing Three Cuts Vodka from Tasmania’s Turner Stillhouse

Three Cuts Vodka, hailing from northern Tasmania’s Tamar Valley, is the newest addition to Turner Stillhouse’s portfolio, joining the award-winning Three Cuts Gin range.

Carefully distilled from a premium grape base, Tasmanian water and the distillery’s signature ‘three cuts of roses’, the result is a light vodka with cool mineral notes and a warm finish.

Supporting the launch, Three Cuts Vodka made its debut at Sydney’s Opera Bar last month, featuring in a kaleidoscopeinspired cocktail, the Emerald Mirage, combined with pomme verte, melon liqueur, pineapple and citrus soda.

Turner Stillhouse Founder Justin Turner was born into a family of winemakers in northern California, and now creates small batch premium gin, vodka and whisky, blending his innovative American approach with the rich distilling traditions of Tasmania.

“We’re sticking to bold flavours and simple, impactful branding to create a unique and memorable brand and experience. Here’s to daring to be different and embracing the doozy spirit.”

Turner said: “We’ve always wanted to make a signature vodka, and creating something that is as pure and premium as every other spirit in the Three Cuts range was paramount. We’re immensely proud to introduce this exceptional example of Tasmanian vodka to the world and absolutely delighted that it has already won a bronze medal at the recently announced IWSC.”

Distribution: Contact

De Bortoli Wines strengthens legacy of Australian Botrytis wines

Since 1982, when Darren De Bortoli embarked on a pioneering project with Semillon grapes, Noble One by De Bortoli Wines has been a testament to Australian ingenuity and one of the world’s most celebrated Botrytis wines.

For more than four decades, Noble One has set the standard for Australian Botrytis wines, and De Bortoli Wines has further strengthened its legacy with the release of the 2020 vintage.

For Senior Winemaker Julie Mortlock, navigating the complexities of Botrytis is about ensuring the perfect balance of humidity and timing in determining the ideal harvest time, and despite challenges presented by climate change and shifting weather patterns, she says “the 2020 Noble One’s reception is truly humbling.”

Recognised by the prestigious 2024 Halliday Wine Companion Awards for Best Sweet White of the Year, the 2020 Noble One boasts two trophies and nine gold medals, and represents a new chapter in the remarkable journey of Noble One.

Distribution: De Bortoli Wines

Mandatory Drinks disrupts RTD category with packaging innovation

Introducing a first-of-its-kind RTD packaging solution, Mandatory Spirit Co has released Mandatory Twisted, a premium vodka premix uniquely boxed in a Tetra Pak carton.

Mark Collins, Co-Founder of Mandatory Spirit Co, says: “As the first-to-market, we launched our premium vodka premix in a carton that is not only recyclable but also resealable. This makes us the only vodka-based RTD worldwide to produce a convenient alcoholic drink that is non-carbonated, whilst also maintaining an environmental conscience.”

Challenging the wastefulness of the typical RTD market, the plant-based carton has a carbon footprint that is 6.5 times less than that of traditional packaging. In addition to its eco-friendly credentials, Mandatory Twisted contains zero sugar, zero preservatives and only 72 calories per drink, making it an obvious choice for healthconscious consumers.

Mandatory Twisted is available in two flavours, Dark Fruits & Vodka and Passionfruit Vodka Punch with an ABV of four per cent, retailing at $20 for a four-pack of 330ml cartons.

Distribution: Australian Liquor Marketers

Fuji Whisky launches inaugural Single Malt in Australia

Renowned 50-year-old Fuji Gotemba Distilleries has launched its first Single Malt Whisky in Australia, joining the Single Grain and Single Blend whiskies to complete the core Fuji range.

Crafted by Fuji Whisky’s Master Distiller and Blender, Jota Tanaka, the Fuji Single Malt Japanese Whisky takes inspiration from traditional Scotch single malts and uses ex-Bourbon, beer-aged and French oak red-wine casks and Tanaka’s signature stamp of layered complexity to give the whisky a contemporary Japanese makeover.

With the Single Malt Whisky now available on Australian shores, Tanaka shared his delight.

“We are excited to release this Single Malt to Australians and share what we are all about at Fuji Gotemba, the world’s only distillery that crafts, mashes, ages and bottles malt and three styles of grain whisky.

“Fuji Single Malt has aromas of ripe apples and crème brûlée while the palate takes on luscious ripe white peaches and fruit tart flavours. The finish is sweet, complex and surprisingly long,” he said.

Distribution: Vanguard Luxury Brands

26 | National Liquor News Marketplace

Hickson House goes national with new partnership

A new distribution partnership between Hickson House Distilling Co and Amber Beverage Group will see the Hickson House Gin range expand its reach across the country in a new chapter for both companies, effective from 1 July 2024.

Founded in 2022 by Barrelhouse Group owners Mikey Enright and Julian Train, the Hickson House brand has gained popularity since the opening of its distillery and bar in The Rocks, Sydney, leading the brand to its next phase of growth with Amber Beverages.

Enright said: “We can’t wait to collaborate with the Amber Beverage team and look forward to growing our brand and partnership across Australia over the coming years.

“Strengthening our presence throughout Australia is one of our key focus areas for the years ahead, and we believe Amber Beverage are the ones to help us do so.”

Under the new distribution agreement, quality, innovation and consumer engagement will be the priority as the two brands aim to deliver unparalleled experiences to gin enthusiasts across Australia.

Patrick Borg, CEO of Amber Beverage Group, added: “The Hickson House Gin story is a great one, and one that I have watched with interest since the brand was launched in 2022.

“Having known Mikey and Julian for many years, I am excited to work together on growing Hickson House Gin in Australia. I speak for the entire Amber Beverage team when I say we are all very excited to welcome this great brand to our portfolio.”

Distribution: Amber Beverage Group

Yalumba celebrates 175 years of multi-generational family ownership

This year, Yalumba celebrates 175 years as a family-owned winemaker, and to mark the milestone anniversary the winery will be unveiling several unique releases throughout the year.

As Yalumba builds momentum toward the occasion, it presents its new vintage Rare & Fine collection releases for 2024, and notably the winery has debuted its inaugural Yalumba Museum Collection.

The Yalumba Museum Collection features a limited selection of the great vintages of its finest wines, aged up to 20 years, including The Caley Cabernet & Shiraz, The Octavius Old Vine Shiraz, The Menzies Cabernet Sauvignon, and The Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz.

Robert Hill-Smith, fifth-generation proprietor, describes the anniversary as a genuinely momentous milestone. He says: “This anniversary is not only a nod to years passed. It is a reflection of our resilience and a commitment to mastering our craft, generation after generation.

“It also acknowledges the many exceptional fine wine people that have come through the gates of Yalumba across three centuries, with shared love for our property, our wines, and our industry,” he concluded.

Distribution: Direct

Gravity updates portfolio with Hard Soda Lemoncello

Responding to fast growing consumer demand for lemon flavoured RTDs, Gravity Drinks Co. has launched its new premium RTD, Hard Soda Lemoncello. In line with its trademark of ‘Over Sugar?’, the new release contains less than 0.5g of sugar and 114 calories.

Gravity first entered the market with a line of fullflavoured but better-for-you seltzers, and the brand’s new Hard Soda range continues this low sugar and lowcalorie focus with RTDs.

Co-founder Mick Spencer explained that the new release was inspired by the drinks of the European summer.

“Our Hard Soda Lemoncello was crafted with the Aussie consumer who is over sugar in mind. Aussies want full flavour without the sugar or calories consequences. For those lucky enough to have experienced Limoncello on the Amalfi Coast of Italy, we note the light bitterness and zest it provides.

“We noticed the Lemon RTD drinks out here weren’t as sessionable and needed a unique tweak, hence the inspiration. Your new fave lemon drink is here,” he said.

Distribution: Direct

June-July 2024 | 27 Marketplace

St Hugo releases 2023 Vintage Collection

St Hugo is showcasing a trio of wines from the Barossa and Eden Valley with the release of its 2023 Vintage Collection, featuring a Riesling, Chardonnay and Grenache Shiraz Mataro.

Speaking about the 2023 vintage, Peter Munro, Chief Winemaker at St Hugo, explained that cool temperatures were a challenge, pushing out the vintage to three or four weeks later than usual, but the spring rains supported a strong budburst and healthy canopy, and full moisture soil profile as summer temperatures kicked in, resulting in three outstanding wines.

The 2023 St Hugo Eden Valley Riesling showcases the vibrancy of the Eden Valley in the form of a modern Australian Riesling. The 2023 St Hugo Eden Valley Chardonnay, also selected from Eden Valley vineyards, has aromas of peach and hazelnut with yellow stone fruit and sweet spice on the palate.

Using grapes sourced from the Barossa Valley, the 2023 St Hugo Grenache Shiraz Mataro blend features 64 per cent Grenache, 30 per cent Shiraz and six per cent Mataro.

Distribution: Pernod Ricard

Calabria Family Wines

launches latest addition to Bélena range

Calabria Family Wines has unveiled the latest product in its popular Bélena range, which has become the second-fastest growing wine brand in the Australian market, with the release of Bélena Prosecco.

Bélena Prosecco pays homage to Bill and Lena Calabria, the second generation of the family business, with bespoke packaging and unique notes crafted with freshly harvested fruit. The sparkling wine has an aroma of green apple and citrus, with subtle notes of passionfruit and lemongrass.

Elizabeth Calabria-Staltare, Head of Marketing at Calabria Family Wine Group, says: “We are excited to be expanding the Bélena wine collection, entering into the thriving Prosecco category with an easy drinking Prosecco that will attract those looking for a more affordable sparkling alternative.”

Distribution: Calabria Family Wine Group

Filipino beer Engkanto lands in Australia

The popularity of Filipino beers in Australia is set to increase with the release of Engkanto, the Philippines’ most globally awarded craft beer.

Launched by Ian Paradies in 2017 to give underserved Filipinos better quality beer options, Engkanto beers are made from all-natural, raw materials including locally sourced ingredients native to the Philippines.

The beer is imported and distributed by 7000 Islands Drinks and while the range is already available at independent retailers in Melbourne, NSW Central Coast, Perth and Western Sydney, Siegfrid Bacani of 7000 Islands says he looks forward to expanding Engkanto’s presence.

“We’re totally wrapped, to be expanding these ridiculously tasty craft beers from the 7000 Islands of the Philippines. And craft beer aficionados agree, with an esteemed panel of 75 judges, declaring three of Engkanto’s craft beers a winner at this year’s Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA),” Bacani said.

Among the beer variants now available in Australia is the rich and creamy Paint Me Purple Ube Lager, crafted with distinct Filipino Ube, one of the most sought-after items in Filipino cuisine.

The range also includes Mango Nation Hazy IPA, highlighting carabao mangoes sourced from the different fruit growing regions in the country, and The High Hive Honey Ale, which features raw honey sourced from apiaries in Baguio City.

Distribution: 7000 Islands Drinks

28 | National Liquor News Marketplace
Champagne Lallier unveils latest Réflexion expression, R.020

Champagne Lallier has launched the latest release in its Réflexion range of expressions, R.020, in Australia. The release marks a milestone moment for Lallier, being the 10th Réflexion cuvée, and the first blend by Dominique Demarville, Lallier Cellar Master and General Manager.

R.020 captures the essence of the 2020 harvest, a year with near-perfect growing conditions, resulting in an elegant wine with white flower flavours and strong notes of fresh citrus.

Sharing his excitement about his first blend, Demarville said: “I am very proud to reveal this new cuvée to the world.

In R.020 brut multi-vintage cuvée, we aim to show a representation of the year 2020, which was a fruitful one in Champagne, and of course the perfect balance between the four atmospheres of Lallier’s style: freshness, purity, intensity and depth.

“I am honoured and proud to be able to contribute to the Réflexion cuvées that Lallier releases almost every year and look forward to this special blend being enjoyed across the globe,” he continued.

The launch of R.020 signifies a turning point in the Réflexion collection, and a

new brand identity and bottle design have been revealed to coincide with the release. The label is embossed with an intricate vine leaf, designed to symbolise the house’s deep connection to terroir and commitment to nature, and is presented on an exclusive bottle shape.

Unlike traditional non-vintage Champagne which strives to recreate a consistent product each year, Lallier’s Réflexion range aims to blend heritage and innovation with the unique patterns of nature, staying true to the individual character of each year’s harvest.

Dermaville said: “2020 was another exceptional harvest in quality after 2018 and 2019. Champagne, the region, had an average yield in 2020 with health grapes produced. Nature, which went undisturbed due to the unusual environment at that time, flourished greatly.

“The dry and sunny summer resulted in an early harvest, delivering intense and fresh grapes presenting a high maturity –perfect for what we were looking for to create exquisite wine.”

Aged for minimum 30 months, R.020 features a unique blend in which Chardonnay overtakes Pinot Noir for the first time, making up 51 per cent of the blend.

On the nose R.020 has aromas of white flowers and fresh citrus fruit notes, with a palate that begins fresh and delicate and finishes with an aromatic persistence and mineral salinity.

New to the Australian market, Champagne Lallier is the pinnacle of Campari Groups’ newly formed House of RARE portfolio, which showcases the groups’ high-end expressions comprising Champagne and ultra-premium spirits.

Christophe Prat, Managing Director French Icon Brands at Campari, said: “Lallier is amongst the very few who broke free from the foundational principles of the brut Champagne category by favouring the expression of the base year, over the regularity of the tasting profile.

“While preserving the historic art of Grand Cru winemaking, Lallier clearly wants to step ahead, and Dominique Demarville is the perfect expert and ally to help us challenge the rules while creating perfectly balanced blends every year.

“We’re particularly looking forward to launching brut multi-vintage cuvée R.020, to reveal our refined, graceful new bottle and expressive brand sign which is set to appeal to connoisseurs worldwide,” he concluded.

June-July 2024 | 29 Marketplace

Changing Rank

BrightSide announces recent placements

BrightSide Executive Search is the only dedicated drinks recruitment specialist nationally and has been a trusted advisor to the industry for well over a decade. Through accessing its wide-reaching network of potential candidates, BrightSide takes the hassle out of recruitment for drinks businesses, advising how they can stay nimble and competitive in a tight market to attract the absolute right person for each role. The latest BrightSide success stories below show the strong abilities of the recruitment agency in partnership with drinks businesses of all sizes, country-wide.

Good Drinks welcomes the entrepreneurial flair James MarsdenSmedley brings to the team as Brand Manager Molson Coors.

Sarah Pomeroy is utilising her strong customer management skills as National Account Manager for Casella Family Brands.

Check out our new website

Vince Bateman State Sales Manager NSW/ ACT for Brown Family Wine Group brings strong trade and leadership experience.

Proximo Spirits is thrilled to have Lachlan Small in their team, with his industry experience he’ll hit the ground running as ASM VIC.

Elle van Beijsterveldt will drive trade marketing and digital initiatives as Assistant Customer Marketing Manager for Casella Family Brands.

Mark Savoldi brings a sound network as well as industry expertise to the Joval Wines team as On-Premise Area Sales Manager CBD NSW.

For more information

Proof & Company welcomes Daniel Donnelly who comes with a wealth of industry experience to the team as Brand Manager QLD.

Domonic Ryan-Agnew is utilising previous sales and hospitality exp’ in his role as On-Premise Specialist NSW for Proximo Spirits.

Paige Wilkinson joins Hickson House Distilling Co as Finance and Ops Manager to support them on their growth trajectory.

Katrice Reynolds provides Casella Family Brands extensive sales experience as Area Manager for Newcastle/ Central Coast.

Visit us on LinkedIn

30 | National Liquor News

Retail Drinks advocates for NSW liquor retailers

In the first half of 2024, Retail Drinks has secured several key wins in NSW on behalf of the state’s packaged liquor licences (PLL).

One of the first issues which emerged in midJanuary was a proposal from the NSW Government to massively increase liquor licence fees for PLL by 55 per cent. This proposal was delivered in response to the passing of the NSW Government’s Vibrancy Reforms in the Parliament in late 2023, and a whole of industry fee review conducted without consultation.

While the vibrancy legislation seemingly contained a myriad of benefits for other categories of licensees, including additional trading hours, PLL received zero benefit. Retail Drinks responded by spearheading a grassroots campaign contacting every single PLL in the State. Hundreds of letters and emails were written to local MPs protesting this decision, which led to PLL fee increases being cut to 25 per cent (the lowest of all licence categories), with a further five per cent reduction available for licensees with good compliance records. While still an increase, Retail Drinks’ advocacy saved our sector almost $1.3 million in additional costs.

Another aspect of the NSW Government’s Vibrancy Reforms was a new requirement banning unaccompanied minors from entering liquor stores. Retail Drinks was able to secure an exemption to this requirement for small licensed general stores who operate as ‘one-stop-shops’, particularly in regional communities. We were also able to secure a fasttracked ‘conditional’ application process for any PLL

wishing to continue selling ancillary (non-alcohol) products to unaccompanied minors, although we would strongly encourage licensees to carefully consider the medium- and long-term risks this ‘condition’ may present.

Lastly, and most recently, Retail Drinks successfully advocated for current temporary age verification options for same-day alcohol deliveries to be made permanent. This means that at the point-of-sale online customers will continue to only need to confirm their intention to provide an age verification document upon delivery. It ensures that smaller same-day delivery providers will be able to continue offering this service without the need for more expensive, techheavy age verification services.

What each of these wins demonstrates is the direct value that Retail Drinks delivers to members – and the broader retail liquor industry, through our unwavering advocacy for the industry. While we are proud of these results, there’s no doubt we would not be able to do this without the ongoing support our members provide.

We are only as strong and resourced as our membership enables us to be, so I take this opportunity to encourage those PLL who aren’t supporting Retail Drinks – the voice for liquor retail – to invest in membership today so you can have a vote and a voice, and we can more effectively do our job to continue to represent the needs and interests of the entire retail liquor sector and ‘enhance your freedom to retail responsibly’. ■

“We are only as strong and resourced as our membership enables us to be, so I take this opportunity to encourage those PLL who aren’t supporting Retail Drinks… to invest in membership today so you can have a vote and a voice.”

32 | National Liquor News Retail Drinks Australia

Always respect, always DrinkWise

DrinkWise is kicking goals at Gather Round as new statistics show the importance of this type of ongoing education, writes CEO Simon Strahan.

As the excitement was building for the AFL Gather Round matches in South Australia, DrinkWise was there helping remind AFL fans about the importance of moderating their alcohol consumption and always being respectful towards others.

As part of the ‘Always respect, always DrinkWise’ AFL Gather Round campaign, DrinkWise teamed up with the South Australian Government, South Australia Police, Adelaide Metro, support services – 1800RESPECT, Men’s Referral Service and 13YARN – the Port Adelaide, Adelaide and North Melbourne football clubs, Coles Liquor, Endeavour Group, Retail Drinks Australia, and Australian Hotels Associations South Australia.

The ‘Always respect, always DrinkWise’ message was prominent across Adelaide and surrounding areas via billboard advertisements (including at the arrival’s hall of the Adelaide airport), at liquor retail outlets and hotel venues and via a digital mobile messaging truck that roamed around the Adelaide city centre and near game venues in the lead up to matches. Footy fans also received awareness messages from AFL players from Port Adelaide, Adelaide and North Melbourne Football Clubs and heard reminders on the SEN radio broadcast during the Gather Round game calls. The message was also seen on social media messaging and stakeholder digital channels, reaching AFL fans wherever they may be travelling to or watching the games.

This campaign not only encouraged the community to be responsible and respectful, it also served as a reminder that if anyone was having trouble managing their consumption or their behaviour and their choices were impacting on the safety of family or others, they can ask for help. Support services, including 1800RESPECT Australia, the No to Violence Men’s Referral Service and 13YARN, partnered with DrinkWise in this campaign, providing an advice and assistance pathway.

As a nation, Australians are drinking more moderately than ever before, and this has become evident within the AFL community. New DrinkWise research has shown that 93 per cent of AFL fans agree they typically drink responsibly at events and 94 per cent believe an event can be ruined if people drink too much, results that are significantly better than a decade ago.

The recent released statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2022–2023 (NDSHS) demonstrate that key

consumption trends have improved over the last 20 years:

• Risky alcohol consumption has decreased from 40.2 per cent in 2004 to 32.3 per cent in 2022/2023.

• Daily drinking has declined from 9.7 per cent in 2004 to 5.5 per cent in 2022/23.

• Single occasion risky drinking has decreased from 30.3 per cent in 2004 to 25 per cent in 2022/2023.

• The average teenager is waiting longer before they try alcohol from 14.8 years old in 2004 to 16.1 years old in 2022/2023.

• Underage abstinence has increased from 37.1 per cent in 2004 to 69 per cent in 2022/2023.

• The number of pregnant women consuming alcohol has decreased from 41.8 per cent in 2004 to 28.3 per cent in 2022/2023.

While the long-term trends are positive, some of these results have only shown marginal improvements or even stalled in recent years. This is why ongoing education campaigns and a whole-ofcommunity commitment to moderation continue to be critical to reducing risky consumption and anti-social behaviour. ■

June-July 2024 | 33 DrinkWise

Strategic use of pack sizes



Category & Insights Manager at Strikeforce, explores how offering differing pack sizes can be a powerful tool to navigate tough economic times.

According to the latest ABS statistics released on 24 April, the cost of alcohol continued to rise, +0.9 per cent on the previous quarter.

“Remember, during tough times, it’s not just about selling more, it’s about selling smarter.”

This came as little relief for consumers in an environment where they continue to tighten their belts and seek value at every opportunity. For retailers including off-premise liquor retailers, this amplifies the need for each business decision to be focused on customer needs. This extends to the often-underestimated realm of packaging – while it might seem like a minor detail, the strategic use of pack sizes can be a powerful tool to navigate tough economic times.

Diversifying pack sizes allows you to cater to a wider range of budgets. By offering different pack sizes you can open the opportunity to gain a sale from the more cost-conscious shopper. The shopper can decide whether to manage their spending by purchasing smaller pack sizes or derive savings by purchasing larger pack sizes and enjoy a lower cost per unit.

In times of economic hardship, consumers are less likely to take risks on unfamiliar products so major brands can use differing pack sizes to drive sales. Beer is a notable example where major brands offer 30can packs in addition to standard 24-pack bottles and cans. Larger pack sizes allow brand loyalists to invest in their favourite brands while pocketing savings. This is beneficial for both the customer and the business.

Visiting several off-premise stores revealed that

although numerous brands had a 30-can pack beer offering, they were generally tucked away in the corner of the cool room with little visual cues for the beer shopper to direct them to the location or spruik the savings. While doing store visits, I purchased a leading brand’s 30-pack on the basis that compared to the 24-pack there was an 18.6 per cent savings per unit at a similar price point. Not a bad proposition for any shopper.

On this basis, it may be worth considering a featured display of larger pack sizes in a high traffic area to grab incremental sales.

However, there’s a strategic balance to be struck. While upsizing can be beneficial, it’s crucial to avoid alienating your loyal customers who you might rely on for purchases of standard pack sizes to drive your cash flow in the long run. Here’s where frequency becomes key. You can cater to both the budgetconscious consumer and your existing customer base by providing more affordable options alongside your usual packs for selected periods and rotating brands.

In conclusion, the strategic use of pack sizes can be a powerful tool to navigate economic downturns. By offering a variety of sizes, catering to budget-conscious consumers, businesses can position themselves for success even in challenging times. Remember, during tough times, it’s not just about selling more, it’s about selling smarter. ■

34 | National Liquor News Strikeforce

Wine varieties and consumption trends

Research from IWSR shows that grape variety was the most influential choice factor for consumers when buying wine in Australia in 2023. Furthermore, its importance has increased since 2019 (see figure one).

Figure one: Top five wine choice cues (percentage of regular wine drinkers in Australia who indicate the factor is ‘important’ or ‘very important’ when buying wine). Source: IWSR

In Australia, red wine and white wine take equal billing in the alcoholic beverage repertoire of regular wine drinkers, with 75 per cent indicating that they had consumed the categories in the past 12 months, ahead of beer at 57 per cent, whisk(e)y at 36 per cent and Australian sparkling wine at 35 per cent.

For red wine, Shiraz (42 per cent), Cabernet Sauvignon (40 per cent), Merlot (37 per cent) and Pinot Noir (35 per cent) were the top four varieties consumed by Australian regular wine drinkers in the past six months. The proportion of drinkers consuming these varieties has fallen since 2019 – Shiraz by seven per cent, Cabernet Sauvignon by 10 per cent, Merlot by 11 per cent and Pinot Noir by four per cent.

The red varieties that more wine drinkers said they had consumed included red blends (20 per cent to 21 per cent) and Grenache (10 per cent to 12 per cent).

Consumer research on red varieties is partially supported by offtrade sales data from Circana, which shows that in the two years ended December 2023 the value of Shiraz sales fell by five per cent, Cabernet Sauvignon by seven per cent and Merlot by 12 per cent. There was some growth for each of the three varieties at $15 to $19.99 per bottle.

Sales of Pinot Noir increased by four per cent, with growth coming between $10 and $29.99 per bottle. Other red varieties to record growth in sales over the period included, in order of sales value, Grenache (up 33 per cent), Malbec (up five per cent), Grenache blends (up 17 per cent) and Sangiovese (up 48 per cent).

For white wine, the major varietals consumed by regular wine drinkers in the past six months were Sauvignon Blanc (48 per cent), Chardonnay (38 per cent), Pinot Grigio/Gris (33 per cent), Moscato (26 per cent) and Riesling (25 per cent). While Pinot Grigio/Gris has been stable, the proportion of drinkers consuming the other varieties has fallen since 2019 – Sauvignon Blanc by nine per cent, Chardonnay by 11 per cent, Moscato by eight per cent and Riesling by seven per cent.

The off-trade data from Circana tells a different story for sales, with growth in value for all five varieties – Sauvignon Blanc (by two per cent), Chardonnay (four per cent), Pinot Grigio (26 per cent), Pinot Gris (15 per cent), Riesling (five per cent) and Moscato (nine per cent).

Overall, Sauvignon Blanc remains the biggest selling variety in Australia with a 14 per cent value share of total wine sales ahead of Shiraz (13 per cent), Chardonnay (eight per cent), and Cabernet Sauvignon (six per cent). ■

June-July 2024 | 35 Wine Australia
Peter Bailey, Manager, Marketing Insights at Wine Australia, explores the top wine varieties consumed by Australian wine drinkers.

Behaviour or attitude change?

We’re the boss, right? What we say goes, yeah? Certainly, management theory would say that managers make the decisions, and the junior staff do their bidding, however, as in other aspects of life, it’s never quite as simple as that.

One of the things that I have looked at in staff teams over many years is the dynamics of staff individual and collective work-rate while on the job. It has been most illuminating to ponder on work-rate variation when the ‘boss’ is present as against when the ‘boss’ is absent, even momentarily.

As managers, we know what it feels like to leave the store floor when one or more staff are working. Some sixth sense innate in most of us tells us that the moment we leave, the work-rate will drop. So, what tends to happen? We feel we can’t leave because jobs won’t get done (stock not put away, ticket checks not done, displays not sorted etc.) or that customer service will decline. The simple reason is that while we are there, we manage staff behaviour however we cannot manage staff behaviour when we are not there.

To manage staff behaviour when we’re not physically there requires an attitude

change from staff members, which is a much more complex assignment.

Over many years in looking at both large and small staff teams, I’ve always looked at individual staff members and placed them on the ‘High-Flier to Drone’ spectrum.

Here’s a definition of each:

High-Flier: Keen, wants to learn, accepts a challenge, and uses initiative but is easily bored and wants your job.

Drone: Structured, wants to do the same each day, low initiative but accepting, doesn’t push and doesn’t want your job.

So, where are your staff on the spectrum? Your ability to manage attitude change rests solely on your ability to know the spectrum status of each staff member. Drones tend to work better under direct supervision and often need a checklist. High-Fliers will often work better away from supervisory eyes and don’t like being told what to do, particularly when they’ve already started doing it.

Attitude change happens when an equitable (fair) and empathetic (understanding) manager plays his or her role correctly by understanding group and individual dynamics. Try setting team goals and see who doesn’t even try, who tries but gives up

because not everyone else tries, and who tries and succeeds despite others not participating. Leave out your daily ‘To do’ list so staff can see it and look for one of three reactions:

1. Staff member one, in passing “Hey, you’re going to be busy!”

2. Staff member two, glancing a little longer “Whoa, that’s a lot.”

3. Staff member three, clearly thinking “You know, I can help with a couple of those.”

This information all adds to our store of knowledge. We will always have some drones working for us and that may well be our recruitment skills, our workplace culture (I have discussed this in previous editions) and our management style. Stories are rife within larger organisations about managers who hire drones simply to make themselves look good.

Working solely on behaviour change forces us as managers to focus on day-to-day store activities that could be done by someone else. Working on attitude change means we can also focus on managerial and bigger picture tasks (marketing, promos, ranging, pricing, data analysis, networking etc.).

Food for thought. ■

36 | National Liquor News Training
Industry Consultant Peter Hall explains how a shift in attitude among staff can be beneficial to your business.

Pinot Noir New Zealand 2025

– An event not to be missed

Christchurch will host a community of souls united by their reverence for Pinot Noir in February 2025, writes Catherine Wansink, New Zealand Winegrowers.

Pinot Noir occupies an important place in New Zealand wine. It is the most widely planted red grape variety. More importantly though, it is central to the country’s growing reputation for crafting wines of uncompromising quality that speak of ‘terroir Aotearoa’.

It’s been eight years between drinks, so we are very excited for the return of Pinot Noir New Zealand 2025. For three days (11-13 February 2025) the city of Christchurch will host a community of souls united by their reverence for Pinot Noir. Get set to engage, listen, taste, give, receive, and learn. After the last few years of delays, the event promises a generous helping of whanaungatanga (connection, kinship, and hospitality) with lots of opportunities to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. The aim is to leave you with lifelong memories and a deeper love and understanding of New Zealand Pinot Noir than when you arrived.

Pinot Noir New Zealand 2025 is an opportunity to engage with passionate, energetic Pinot Noir producers from New Zealand’s diverse winegrowing regions. It is an opportunity to listen to experts from New Zealand and from around the world to find out first-hand why New Zealand Pinot Noir is so distinctive and what makes Kiwis so proud of these wines that can be found in just about every corner of the world.

Traditionally held in Wellington, this is the first time the event will be held in New Zealand’s South Island, an exciting and stunningly beautiful destination for visitors.

Pinot Noir in New Zealand

The area planted in the variety rose from 141ha in 1989 to close to 1,100ha in 2000. As of 2023 Pinot Noir accounts for 5,678ha, 14 per cent of New Zealand’s total vineyard area, making Pinot Noir the country’s second most planted grape after Sauvignon Blanc. Like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir thrives in the cooler parts of the country with 86 per cent of New Zealand’s Pinot Noir vines found in the South Island.

Critical acclaim and demand, both in New Zealand and overseas, has underpinned this upward production curve. Interest from around the world has seen Pinot Noir rise to second place among New Zealand’s exported wine styles, with more than 1.5 million cases exported annually. Australia is the largest export market for New Zealand Pinot Noir.

However, Pinot Noir’s significance to New Zealand wine is only partly reflected in numbers. Around the variety a culture of dedicated, inquisitive winemaking has developed. More than any other New Zealand wine style, Pinot Noir has been the catalyst for important conversations around tūrangawaewae (sense of place) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship of the land). It has also led to strong bonds being formed with important offshore winemaking communities, notably Burgundy and Oregon.

Not least, it has spawned events that draw people from around the world. One of these, of course, is Pinot Noir New Zealand 2025.

Registrations are now open. Full programme dropping soon.

For more information visit ■

“Interest from around the world

has seen Pinot Noir rise to second place among New Zealand’s exported wine styles… Australia is the largest export market for New Zealand Pinot Noir.”


Catherine Wansink Australia Market Consultant Zealand Winegrowers
June-July 2024 | 37 New Zealand Winegrowers

Strategies for managing rising rental costs in leases

One of the most pressing challenges facing retailers is the escalation of rental costs. With retail leases representing a significant portion of operating expenses, understanding the dynamics of leasing agreements and the rising rental costs is crucial for retail businesses.

In recent years, Australia has experienced a notable increase in rental costs for commercial properties, including retail spaces. Factors such as population growth, urbanisation, and the desirability of prime retail locations have contributed to this trend. Additionally, economic factors and market dynamics play a significant role in shaping rental prices, with demand often outstripping supply in sought-after areas.

For many businesses, especially small and independent retailers, high rental expenses can place immense pressure on profit margins and overall viability. As such, understanding the key drivers behind rising rental costs and adopting strategies to mitigate their impact is essential for retail businesses to thrive in today’s competitive market.

The desirability of prime retail locations is often influenced by factors such as proximity to transportation hubs, popular tourist attractions, foot traffic, and affluent residential areas. Retailers looking to establish a presence in these areas must

be prepared to pay a premium for the privilege, further driving up rental costs and intensifying competition for limited space.

In addition to location, economic factors such as inflation and interest rates can also impact rental prices. As the costof-living rises and interest rates fluctuate, landlords may adjust rental rates to maintain profitability and cover expenses such as property maintenance, taxes, and mortgage repayments. Economic uncertainty can exacerbate these fluctuations, leading to heightened volatility in rental markets.

Rising rental costs require retailers to adopt a proactive approach to lease negotiation and management. One strategy is to seek longer lease terms with fixed rental increases, providing stability and predictability in rental expenses over the term of the lease. By locking in rental rates at current levels, retailers can shield themselves from future increases and better plan for their financial commitments. If options are provided, under the lease for some states, seeking a cap on the market rent will also help with certainty.

To limit costs, retailers can consider shared (sub-leases) or pop-up retail spaces as a cost-effective way to establish a presence in desirable locations without committing to a long-term lease.

A lawyer who specialises in retail leases can also guide tenants by reviewing their leases and ensuring they are fully aware of their rights and obligations. This includes provisions related to rent escalations, operating expenses, maintenance responsibilities, and lease renewal options. They can identify any hidden costs in leases and negotiate them out or seek a cap on these costs. Further, they can negotiate more favourable lease terms, such as rent abatements, lease extensions, or tenant improvement allowances. Landlords who value long-term tenant relationships may be more willing to accommodate reasonable requests and work collaboratively to find mutually beneficial solutions.

In conclusion, rising rental costs present a significant challenge for retailers in Australia, impacting profitability and overall business performance. However, by understanding the key drivers behind rising rental costs and adopting proactive strategies to manage lease agreements effectively, retailers can mitigate their impact and position themselves for long-term success in the competitive retail landscape. Through collaboration with landlords, exploration of alternative locations, and careful negotiation of lease terms, retailers can overcome the complexities of retail leases and thrive in an ever-changing market environment. ■

Leasing 38 | National Liquor News
Marianna Idas, Principal at eLease Lawyers, discusses overcoming the complexities of retail leases.

Unpacking the gifting opportunity

When you think about the key trading periods in liquor, where does your mind go? Christmas, Mother’s Day, perhaps Father’s Day?

Since many retailers have dedicated gifting space in-store (if not on their online site), and most suppliers have their own curated gifting packs and ranges, are we making the most of the opportunity? And what do shoppers really think about current gifting offers anyway?

Well, here are three things they’ve told us.

1. Gifting is a big trade up opportunity – but motivating them to behave that way takes different levers department by department. For example, when compared to the average off-premise shopper:

• Spirits shoppers buying for gifting are much more willing to buy an additional item because of something new or different.

• Whereas beer shoppers buying for gifting are the most willing to pay more for better quality.

What does this mean for you?

You must understand what motivates your specific target shoppers, and lead with the appropriate strategies.

Only by pulling the right levers are you likely to see the strongest results and best return on your activity.

Using the above example, spirits categories should be aiming to inspire and excite through ‘new’ and more NPD; while beer is better placed to dial up quality cues and showcase higher tiers.

2. Shoppers buying for gifting have different expectations versus other shoppers. Although there are variations by

department, two common themes stand out with all gifting shoppers. They all place more importance on healthier choices and helpful staff.

What does this mean for you?

To win the gifting occasion, you need to be nailing the health and wellbeing proposition and communicating those health credentials clearly and consistently.

At the same time, investment in staff so they can make recommendations and advocate effectively for health-orientated lines will pay dividends with this group of shoppers.

But remember, it doesn’t stop there. Gifting shoppers say a range of other factors are also more important to them to them, for example:

• Spirits shoppers want an enjoyable shopping experience.

• Premix shoppers over-index their need for premium products to deliver something different.

• Wine shoppers say product authenticity (i.e. by region and/or processing) is extra important to them.

Building these factors into your gifting proposition is like a bow on the package as far as your shoppers are concerned.

3. The kicker is gifting shoppers are among the least satisfied.

Certainly, a little disconcerting, but bear in mind shoppers report very different experiences over the past year by department and retailer:

• There’s a significant 12 per cent variance in retailers, with Bottlemart leading the gifting experience, and IGA Liquor at the bottom.

• And a 14 per cent variance by department,

beer delivering best, with wine shoppers reporting the lowest satisfaction levels. What does this mean for you?

If you’re a supplier, you simply must tailor your conversations when talking to different retailers. With Bottlemart for example, put the emphasis on maintaining strong momentum in gifting, whereas with IGA Liquor or First Choice, steer more towards how your plans will help address the key improvements their shopper’s demand. For retailers on the other hand, it’s vital to uncover the details around what measures make up overall shopper satisfaction, and how your gifting shoppers vary from the average. In gifting, great collaboration is pivotal so engaging and supporting suppliers who show a thirst and capacity to bring targeted strategies to the table is key.

How, for example, can retailer and supplier collaboration address the issue of better signage in First Choice, something that gifting shoppers there say is the most important improvement they’d like to see in the banner?

As many as one in five gifting shoppers say they would go to another store if they couldn’t find what they were looking for. That’s a sales opportunity no buyer or account manager wants to see head out the door. So, be sure you’re looking beneath the surface at all your inputs and using the right proof points to build the most powerful gifting plans.

That could prove to be a wonderful gift to your success this year.

Source: Shopper Intelligence, Off-premise liquor program, MAT to December 2023. ■

June-July 2024 | 39 Shopper Intelligence

Ready-to-drink, or not?

Circana explores moderation and the changing face of Australia’s relationship with alcohol.

With a long-term trend showing Australia’s drinking culture is increasingly focused on moderation1, over the past three successive years, those reducing their drinking have outweighed those increasing purchase and consumption of alcohol.

For example, as we finally emerged from Covid restrictions, almost two in five 25-34-year-olds (38 per cent) selfreported less alcohol consumption in a post-pandemic response to their lockdown drinking habits2 – a moderation stance reflected in declining retail liquor volumes3

Reduced liquor intake dominates cost-of-living adjustments

The cost-of-living crisis has replaced the pandemic as one of the biggest influences over changing alcohol consumption habits with even more people now prone to

prioritising (low) price and promotions. We see this in the growth of value-tier price point offerings and plummeting underperformance of segments exuding premium quality and price points.

Tightened household budgets in 2023 saw over one quarter of Australians buy fewer alcoholic beverages (26 per cent), with two in five citing being forced to make cutbacks due to rising costs (39 per cent). Unsurprisingly, this is highest among 40-49-year-olds with young families and lowest among Boomers aged 65+4

Innovation and flavour nostalgia prove popular Products blending influences from other categories, brands, geographies and generational preferences are resonating with Aussies. Lemon is arguably the most

noteworthy flavour trend right now as we see more influence of soft drink branding, taste profiles and aesthetics in liquor. Critics cite inappropriate marketing to minors, but the reality is that Aussie drinkers are showing a demand for these flavourful, easydrinking refreshments, which blur nostalgia with category innovation.

As the sober-curious movement continues, the no- and low-alcohol (NoLo) beverage category is enjoying faster growth than retail liquor overall; however, it’s one of consistent slowdown in both absolute and percentage terms.

Search data indicates that peak ‘alcoholfree’ interest was in 2021-2022 as the industry struggled to bring new households into the segment. In 2023, just 3.5 per cent of occasions were triggered by the need “low in alcohol, doesn’t go to my head” – and that’s

40 | National Liquor News Circana

been trending down each year from 20205

For this cohort, beer (56 per cent) holds the majority share of segment penetration, sales and growth contribution, followed by wine (47 per cent), RTDs (27 per cent), cider (18 per cent) and spirits (15 per cent)6

The key to winning with Aussie drinkers

As Australians become even more prone to prioritising price – reflected in improved category performance in the value tier and variable growth overall – we’re overwhelmingly choosing RTD pre-mixes, getting reacquainted with value beers and glass spirits, and starting to fall back in love with cider. But, our taste for premium has been swallowed up in the cost-of-living crisis as we break up with craft beer, single malt and champagne in preference for Prosecco.

Consumption of RTDs at the end of 2023 was at a record high of over one in five Australians (21 per cent)7 indulging, fuelling the influence of liquor on legacy soft drink brands with iconic pairings, such as the launches of Jack Daniel’s & Coca-Cola and Jack Daniel’s & Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.

While wine sales have slowed, the number of Aussies enjoying a vino still increased, from 41 per cent pre-pandemic to 44.1 per cent in the year to September 20238

Online liquor sales are back in growth as Aussies choose to drink more at home

after the post-pandemic ‘revenge spending’ return to on-premise socialisation – in part due to cost-of-living pressures. But be cautious. Just one in five people buy alcohol their online9 and enticing new buyers to the platform is proving tough with a noticeable drop-off among those households with kids.

Informed insights provide competitive edge

There’s a critical need for informed insights everywhere that your brand is available, and this is more important than ever in the competitive liquor market. Circana shopper research provides clarity into omnichannel dynamics – revealing who bought your products, the trade-off decisions they make, product characteristics driving sales, and where and what they’re most likely to purchase as our relationship with alcohol continues to evolve.

Today, over two-thirds of Australians consume alcohol (68.1 per cent)10 so it’s still a burgeoning market. But we’re currently buying less liquor overall11, and an enduring moderation mindset has prevailed as more Aussies proactively abstain from or reduce their alcohol consumption – both as a personal or health choice and/or as a result of soaring cost-of-living. To build a successful liquor category strategy in this environment, you need to know if your shoppers are ready-to-drink or not. ■


1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare cited in Retail Drinks Australia, Updated alcohol data shows Australia’s long term drinking consumption continues down, 17 October 2023, accessed 21 May 2024

2 Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics; National Health Survey 2022

3 Source: Circana Market Edge Retail Liquor Weighted, data to 31 December 2023

4 Source: Circana Shopper Panel Liquor Survey, November 2023, n = 1,669 & 441

5 Source: Circana MarketEdge data, AU Liquor Weighted & Australian Grocery & Convenience, MAT to 01/01/23 and MAT To 31/12/23; Growth Scope 1/1/2022-31/12/2022 All consumers n=12,026, Question: Which of the following were MOST important to you in determining your choice of drink?

6 Source: Circana MarketEdge data, AU Liquor Weighted & Australian Grocery & Convenience, MAT to 31/12/23 Circana Shopper Panel Liquor Survey, December 2022, n= 232; Question you mentioned that you have bought Zero-alcohol versions of Alcoholic beverages. Which of the following types of Zero-alcohol versions of Alcoholic beverages have you purchased in the past six months? (Please select all that apply);

7 Roy Morgan, Over 14 million Australians are now consuming alcohol – driven by increases for wine and ‘RTDs’, 13 February 2024, accessed 21 May 2024

8 Roy Morgan, Over 14 million Australians are now consuming alcohol – driven by increases for wine and ‘RTDs’, 13 February 2024, accessed 21 May 2024

9 B Knight, One in five Australians are buying alcohol online, University of NSW, 1 March 2023, accessed 21 May 2024

10 In the 12 months to September 2023

11 Roy Morgan, Over 14 million Austra lians are now consuming alcohol – driven by increases for wine and ‘RTDs’, 13 February 2024, accessed 21 May 2024

June-July 2024 | 41 Circana


Chapel Hill celebrates 50th vintage

McLaren Vale winery Chapel Hill is celebrating its 50th vintage, marking the occasion with the unveiling of its 2024 Icon Releases which includes its new flagship The Devil Shiraz 2020.

To mark the occasion, Chapel Hill held an exclusive dinner at Hinchcliffe House in Sydney on Wednesday 5 May, where Chief Winemaker Michael Fragos and Senior Viticulturalist Rachel Steer guided guests through a tasting of the winery’s latest vintage releases.

Michael Fragos, Chief Winemaker, said: “When it comes to crafting a fine wine, success is down to even the tiniest of details being executed perfectly. I feel that we’ve done that with The Devil Shiraz, and it’s a fitting tribute to celebrate our 50th vintage.”

Just eight barrels of wine were produced for the inaugural release of The Devil Shiraz, which is crafted from the winery’s oldest vines and its name a reference to the idiom “the devil is in the detail”.

Completing the 2024 Icon Release collection is The Vicar Shiraz 2021, Road Block Shiraz 2021 and Gorge Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2021.

24 hours on a ranch with Yellowstone Bourbon

In May, Yellowstone Bourbon invited key journalists to Sun Ranch in Byron Bay to celebrate the Australian launch of Yellowstone Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

To get into the spirit, the group embarked on a horse riding adventure in the fields surrounding the ranch before Greg Mefford, Managing Director of Luxco International, shared his knowledge about Bourbon and the history of Yellowstone.

After a tasting session with Mefford, attendees put the whiskey to the test in a cocktail masterclass, warming up with Trailblazer Toddy’s after an afternoon of horse riding in the hinterland.

Closing out the evening, the group gathered around the Stoney Ridge healing circle for a sundowner before stepping indoors for a Yellowstone dinner experience and a final sip of Yellowstone Select.

The following morning, an early rise was in order to experience all that Sun Ranch has to offer, including a pool, woodfired sauna, ice bath and yoga class, before departing the famil.

DISCUS brings American distilled spirits down under

Last month, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) embarked on a trade tour in Australia, raising the profile of American spirits and making new relationships with key representatives in the sector.

Formal events commenced with a mini trade show at The Ace Hotel in Surry Hills, which welcomed retailers, importers, media and bartenders to learn more about DISCUS and access a wide range of quality American distilled spirits, some of which are not yet available in Australia.

DISCUS then took the event to the inaugural Melbourne Trade Show hosted by The Whisky List.

The DISCUS members looking to begin exporting into the market include the likes of Arizona Distilling, Red Eye Louie’s and Traverse City Whiskey.

As well as introducing new brands, the trade shows provided an opportunity for DISCUS brand members who already have a presence in Australia, such as Sagamore Spirit, Uncle Nearest and Westward Whisky, to increase the opportunities they have in the Australian market.

The latest liquor industry
Photo credit: Kate Holmes
42 | National Liquor News

In a climate of economic difficulties and changing consumer preferences, banner groups have prioritised their members’ success in unique ways.

Banner groups put members first

The past few years have been difficult for liquor retailers, with cost-of-living pressures pushing consumers to reduce discretionary spending. March statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate that overall retail turnover has been flat for the previous six months, the weakest growth on record other than the pandemic and the introduction of the GST. Consumer trends are also changing, with a growing demand for convenience and value, and a potential downturn in previous premiumisation trends.

Even so, the current economic climate does present opportunities for liquor retail, with the IWSR reporting that more than half of Australian consumers are going out less and are displaying a general preference for consuming alcohol at home. In addition, with inflation slowing, the ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence report expects Australian consumers to develop a more optimistic opinion of their financial standing, normalising spending habits.

The market is highly competitive, especially with Endeavour Group and Coles Group continuing to expand. However, independent banner groups have continued to deliver key points of difference and succeeded in drawing in engaged and loyal clientele.

Always on the front foot, banner groups have been introducing innovations to help their members succeed. These strategies vary from banner to banner, including optimising loyalty programs, analysing and utilising shopper data, and growing e-commerce capabilities.

National Liquor News spoke with some of the key banner groups in Australia: Australian Liquor Marketers, Independent Liquor Group, Thirsty Camel Victoria, Liquor Marketing Group, Liquor Barons, Liquor Legends, Independent Liquor Retailers, and Paramount Liquor. Leaders of these groups shared their thoughts on the position of the market, how their banner group is performing, and what strategies they have in place to support and advance their member stores. ■

Banner Gorups June-July 2024 | 43

Tapping into trends

Banner group leaders share their thoughts on emerging trends and consumer behaviour in the liquor retail sector.

“We have observed trends within the retail sector, including a shift back to more mainstream product lines due to the market prioritising value. However, alongside this, we have experienced significant growth in the craft spirits category, and of course, the RTD category, led by some strong national brands.” – Nathan Rowe, Paramount Liquor

“There’s an explosion of RTDs, especially anything with lemon. Hard Rated has dominated the space. The segment is becoming quite crowded, and it seems that every supplier is engaging with RTDs. NPD is going to drive a large amount of growth.” – Paul Esposito, ILG

“Market challenge will be adapting to consumer discretionary spend with the impacts of higher prices on necessities along with higher interest rates leaving less disposable income. The entire market is impacted by these challenges, however LMG is well placed with its marketing platforms, price investment and first party data to be able to win and retain more shoppers.” –Gavin Saunders, LMG

“Being able to deliver value through price but also reward through points is important as we compete for footfall and frequency.” Kylie Wallbridge, ALM

“What we’re seeing emerge is a distinct twospeed economy. Value is obviously critical to deliver to our customers, but we also need to continue to offer a premium range for the right customer. Our Everyday Value program continues to deliver value and evolve with a new look and feel in store and digital marketing support to drive awareness, and our premium wine and spirits program, Top Drops, talks to a consumer looking to splurge a little bit more in the right products and brands.”Adrian Moelands, Thirsty Camel

“A major growth we are seeing is the increase in premix drinks has been phenomenal over the past 12 months, primarily driven by innovation. This category shift is really significant and shows no signs of slowing down.”

– Chris O’Brien, Liquor Barons

“All categories are performing well, with RTD a standout over beer within our overall business. Vodka RTD is absolutely smashing other RTD segments, the impact one particular product has made is nothing short of impressive. To disrupt category and segmentation, while delivering strong retail margin, is to be commended. High ABV is another winner. Shopper behaviour continues to change with more consideration around pack formats now coming into our future planning.” – Vaughan Peters, Liquor Legends

44 | National Liquor News Banner Groups
Contact us to grow your business 1300 408 399 company/independent-liquor-retailers BECOME A MEMBER TODAY Join the fastest growing member-based liquor retailer. We help to maximise the sales and profit to all our members with 4 banner groups $250m combined purchasing power Unique promo deals Be part of our targeted, strategic and effective marketing campaigns Share in all profits and enjoy high rebates BENEFIT FROM HIGH REBATES AND EFFECTIVE MARKETING Do not pay membership fees Do not pay finance fees Do not pay monthly or admin fees

ALM driving consumer loyalty

In her first year as Australian Liquor Marketers (ALM) CEO, Kylie Wallbridge explains how the group is supporting its members to compete for footfall and frequency.

Q: How are you settling into your new role as CEO of ALM?

I spent my first few months on the road, getting out into the network and driving my ambition to champion successful independents. To the areas I haven’t visited yet, I look forward to visiting soon.

We have a strong independent liquor network across Australia supporting local communities, shoppers, and suppliers, and I’ve met members from across the country in both metro and regional locations to understand the trends in each market, what is driving shoppers into their stores and the challenges they might be facing.

Q: How is your Network of the Future strategy progressing?

Our Network of the Future strategy will enable retailers to compete for shoppers while staying true to local retailing. The shopper is at the heart of our strategy, ensuring we deliver the products they want, when they want them, through an omnichannel approach.

We’ve made investments across Metcash Retail Technology and we’re partnering with key POS providers to ensure our network is built on data and insights. This will generate new income streams for our retailers, create strong brand engagement

for suppliers, and consistency of experience across all channels for shoppers.

Q: Loyalty is crucial to your Network of the Future plans, how are the programs going?

We have over 200 stores on loyalty across Top Drop Rewards and My Bottle-O Rewards, with more applications ready for on-boarding. With both IGA Rewards and Porters Rewards in development we will have four loyalty programs, rewarding shoppers with points and member prices.

We know more about our shoppers than ever before, their shopping preferences, basket size and frequency. Our loyalty shoppers are driving incremental dollars per basket back to our retailers and through personalised communications we can share promotions tailored to their preferences and previous purchases. Being able to deliver value through price but also reward through points is important as we compete for footfall and frequency.

Q: As part of your technological transformation, you have also invested in One Stop Shop, what feedback have you received?

One Stop Shop employs leading-edge business intelligence and sales technology

to provide communications, real time alerts and an ordering hub for members. Urgent alerts, delivery and warehouse updates, promotional programs, marketing campaigns and digital tools are now available in one spot, tailored to the venue type and state.

Already we have seen over 15,000 total logins across IBA banners, contract customers and on-premise venues with an average of more than 30 minutes on the platform.

One Stop Shop continues the impact ALM Connect has already made. With almost 350 suppliers onboard, ALM Connect gives venues and retailers access to a supplier’s full portfolio and has already seen close to 20,000 orders since launch.

Q: What are you looking forward to in the next 12 months?

Having recently attended The IBA Key Supplier Forum on the Gold Coast, I am excited about the year ahead – we’ve got a strong calendar of supplier partnerships and highly engaged retailers. We’ll be focused on the quality of our network, continuing our technological advancements, and building our connected universe of platforms to win shoppers. ■

46 | National Liquor News Banner Groups

The largest supplier to independently owned liquor retailers and on-premise venues in Australia

The partner of choice for on-premise venues. Leveraging our strengths in delivering exceptional value, through competitive pricing and extensive range.

Providing ALM customers with access to a supplier’s full portfolio through existing ordering processes.

A single channel of communication for all customers. From delivery details, new products, promotional programs and marketing campaigns.

Expansion the name of the game for ILG

Paul Esposito, CEO of Independent Liquor Group (ILG) spoke about the group’s growth in Queensland and Victoria, and its unique member offering.

Q: How has 2024 been so far for ILG?

Year to date, we have growth in both pillars value and volume. ILG is up 6.5 per cent in value, and up 4.8 per cent on volume. Revenue was up about four per cent in the first quarter of this year and we’re just about flat when it comes to volume. As forecasted, growth is slowing down in this current economic environment.

Victorian independent members have welcomed ILG and excitingly we are recruiting around five to six members a week. Our strategic partnership with BAM Logistics in Dandenong provides our Victorian members an alternative to existing wholesalers. This collaboration not only enhances our distribution capabilities but also ensures we can offer exceptional service and support to our growing Victorian member base. The potential for ILG in Victoria is immense and we are committed to making this region our primary focus for the next 12 months.

Some of our members are experiencing reductions in basket sizes and consumers focusing on promotional price points. All

categories are impacted by the current economic climate, with consumers seeking out value lines and pack sizes or trading down to smaller pack configurations.

Q: How is the rollout of Liquorstop Warehouse going?

We’ve launched Liquorstop Warehouse in NSW, and we will soon launch the platform in Queensland and Victoria.

This platform has been designed specifically for the on-premise sector and is gaining traction in NSW. Industry data revealed significant leakage to the supermarkets within the on-premise channel. Liquorstop Warehouse addresses this issue by providing the convenience of online trading with retail benefits for more savings and margins. It also aims to help operators and suppliers connect and conduct business via a simplified online ordering system.

Q: Last year you said you expected Queensland to overtake NSW in volume. Is this still your expectation? The Queensland market is growing, and

we distribute beer for both breweries in Queensland, which inflates the Queensland numbers. Both States are performing well but Queensland is on track to exceed NSW volume.

Q: How does ILG make a difference to its members?

The difference is the importance of cooperatives. They keep industries alive by safeguarding the future of their members. ILG was formed 49 years ago for that same reason. ILG gives independent retailers the ability to compete effectively through better buying power.

Australia’s retail landscape is dominated by three major players that report to shareholders. The ILG shareholders are member-owners with equal rights, and our dividends are distributed within the membership. The risk we face with the ‘big three major players’ is their dominance on pricing and supply.

The best way to safeguard independent retailers is for more independent retailers to join the Independent Liquor Group cooperative. ■

48 | National Liquor News Banner Groups

Be a part of Australia’s largest Liquor Cooperative, servicing the industry since 1975.

Pat Kenny (NSW) 0409 308 341 Craig Stephenson (QLD) 0434 575 589
market leading banner groups across NSW, QLD and VIC Sydney Brisbane Townsville Melbourne FREIGHT FREE = Sydney Metro when you spend over $500 | Country when you spend over $3500 $30 FLAT FREIGHT FEE = for orders under $500 in Sydney Metro $180 FLAT FREIGHT FEE = for orders under $3500 in Country warehouse Y OUR ONE ST OP LIQUOR SHOP
Represented by three

Thirsty Camel delivers value during tough times

Adrian Moelands, General Manager of Thirsty Camel Victoria, spoke about engaging regional members, building loyalty, and delivering value.

Q: What have been the highlights of the first half of 2024 for Thirsty Camel Victoria?

We’re so proud of the success that we’ve had so far in 2024. In a challenging economic climate, we’re laser-focused on executing our plans and delivering growth for our members. We’re thrilled to have welcomed three new Thirsty Camel stores to the Victorian business already this year, with six more planned to launch before December.

Q: How has your inaugural Roadshow Series been received?

In February, Victoria hosted its first series of Roadshows, where Head Office and valued suppliers travelled to four corners of Victoria to connect with our members in their regions. The response we’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive and we plan on continuing the events in the years to come. We saw great benefit in meeting our membership in their regions, talking to their teams on the ground. We discussed business priorities and opportunities and ran an interactive workshop to help upskill casual staff members.

Q: What are the key benefits of being a part of the Thirsty Camel banner?

We see so many benefits to being a part

of Thirsty Camel. We have a not-for-profit model, meaning we’re a member-based organisation and everything we make we give back to our members. We boast a small, agile range and three store formats, so our members have capacity to make choices around what’s right for their local customers, like with our opt-in premium wine and spirits program, Top Drops, that has seen impressive growth over the last six months.

Q: What sets Thirsty Camel retailers apart?

Convenience has always set Thirsty Camel apart from other liquor retailers. It’s what we do, and we do it well. We understand our customer, we can engage with them in a fun and irreverent way. After all, our brand is based on a talking camel. At our heart, Thirsty Camel is built around community. Each of our bottle shops are independently owned and operated by members of the community and that’s important to us.

Q: How does your Hump Club loyalty program benefit consumers and your members?

When we talk about value being crucial to deliver to our consumers, loyalty is always a part of that same conversation. Our best-

in-class loyalty program is delivering 40 per cent more value by its customers than the average liquor consumer. Hump Club is driving more frequent and consistent purchases and delivering a significantly higher basket size. In FY25, we’ll be doubling the amount of member offers for our loyalty customers as a way to engage with more people and give them more value.

Q: What are the main opportunities and challenges for Thirty Camel?

We will focus on delivering value through our in-store Everyday Value program, and through our loyalty strategy. We also know it’s important to grow our e-commerce business as our consumers are shopping online and we need to meet them where it’s most convenient.

The challenges are excise, price inflation and generally the cost of doing business. However, we also acknowledge this is an opportunity. Our 10-pack strategy continues to go from strength to strength, with our recent six-week mix-and-match promotion delivering 10 per cent growth versus the previous campaign. For us, it’s about how we use our understanding of what the consumer needs to build a program that makes sense for right now. ■

50 | National Liquor News Banner Groups

Networking &

Insight driven category management.

Everyday Value Program

Core range based on your store size (Large, Medium or Small)

EXPERT KNOWLEDGE Managers with extensive liquor & retail experience

Disruptive marketing support.

National marketing campaigns at key selling periods

‘Always On’ digital advertising

Exclusive activations with big brands

Market leader in loyalty.

latest data
Access to
and trends STORE SIGNAGE Specialist
design fitouts
educational opportunities
We invest in your store
made fun
. . . .
Hump Club customers spend 40% more per transaction than
. . Level 1 & 2, 143 Cecil Street, South Melbourne, VIC 3205 GET IN TOUCH TO BECOME A THIRSTY CAMEL TODAY! Head Office 03 8573 4100 Thirst Central ...I mean PROOF Want Hoof? “ What really sets the banner apart is their loyalty offering, – Aaron Day, Harvest Group which is easy to understand and provides our customers with a tangible benefit every time they shop with us. (They) deliver all the fundamentals required to run a successful liquor retail business. We feel the brand proposition suits the clientele we serve and aligns strongly to the way we operate. “ Total Australian Stores VIC Stores 310 131 MEMBER REBATES Based on your purchases WHOLESALE SUPPORT Free delivery from ALM

Winning more shoppers remains focus for LMG

Despite difficult market conditions, Liquor Marketing Group (LMG) CEO Gavin Saunders says a focus on shopper satisfaction is delivering greater sales and profitability for members.

Q: How has your performance been in the first half of 2024? What have been the highlights?

Calendar year 2024 to date has delivered small single digit growth, which compared with prior years is a significantly different result. However, the market is more challenging for discretionary consumer spend.

The focus of Bottlemart, Sip’n Save and Harry Brown has been winning more shoppers to offset the impacts of fewer shopping occasions and lower basket, through leading digital marketing, digital store offers and catalogues.

Bottlemart and Sip’n Save catalogues were recognised by Shopper Intelligence this year as the leading catalogue across all retail sectors in driving consumers to store - a great result and testament to the benefit of maintaining connection with and offers for our shoppers.

Q: How has the ‘There’s More in Store’ campaign been received, and how is it benefiting the group and your members?

Our ‘ There’s More in Store’ brand position was launched in 2023 to highlight that Bottlemart and Sip’n Save stores offer more

in terms of service, range, great offers, and innovation. One of the great advantages Bottlemart and Sip’n Save retailers have is their connection to the communities in which they operate, where shoppers receive more than they expect in terms of service. The brand campaign highlights this and more.

The campaign was supported with TV commercials, social media and radio, and with brand score tracking showing a significant uplift in awareness and consideration, the campaign is achieving its objective of delivering more shoppers to stores.

Q: What will be the key focus for LMG for the remainder of the year?

The focus for LMG always remains supporting our members – it’s LMG’s reason for being.

Our focus for the balance of the year includes launching our loyalty platform, which offers the power of first party marketing combined with the benefit of LMG’s promotional programs and price investment to deliver greater sales and profitability for our members.

Other activities include the rollout

of electronic shelf labels for the ease of execution and to allow our members greater time to work their business, along with continued promotions and marketing to win more shoppers.

There are numerous other activities occurring, including business insights platforms for members, retail store refreshes and continued growth of our e-commerce platforms.

Q: Why is now a good time to be a part of LMG?

LMG has been recognised as the leading national banner group option for independents (Supplier Advantage Survey 2024), but we believe that the opportunity ahead of us is much greater. Complementing our marketing and promotions with the power of loyalty and further retail enhancement, including electronic shelf labels and retail refresh, will further advance our members’ offers to consumers. At this point in the market where consumers are more discerning with their spending, it’s important to be aligned with a group which delivers more shoppers and can support its members with competitive price points through investment and business insights. ■

Banner Groups 52 | National Liquor News
2023 ALIA RETAIL GROUP OF THE YEAR (2 YEARS IN A ROW) SELL MORE AND COMPETE MORE EFFECTIVELY LMG’s platforms, programs and support drive more shoppers and sales for independent retailers. NSW Aidan Desmond 0427 250 618 | QLD Shaun Landy 0436 002 418 | VIC Chris Christofi 0401 714 257 SA & NT Simon Rowe 0417 417 886 | WA Jamie Ryan 0403 224 479 CONTACT US NOW TO FIND OUT HOW WE CAN HELP YOU GROW YOUR BUSINESS There´s more in store FOR RACING FANS WITH HEART STOPPING DEALS WIN A TRIP TO SINGAPORE FOR YOU AND TWO MATES PURCHASE A CASE OF HEINEKEN AND ENTER AT BOTTLEMART.COM.AU FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN. HEINEKEN 24 PACK $51.99 10 PACK 48.99 SKYY VODKA DE BORTOLI $13.99 PLUS SHARE OF $5,00O WIN HOT PRICE $41.99 ST HUGO WIN RACING $39.99 There s more in store Your store online to increase your reach and sales, all facilitated by LMG Comprehensive advertising to drive customers to your store with significant price investment to enhance margin National scale and consumer activations, with local ranging and pricing Recognised and trusted brands which drive consumers to store and online YOUR STORE DOWNLOAD OUR APP

Cooperative advantage shines at Liquor Barons

After a stellar start to the year, Chris O’Brien, General Manager of Liquor Barons, explains how the cooperative distinguishes itself.

Q: How has Liquor Barons’ performance been in the first half of 2024? What have been the highlights?

In the first half of 2024 we continued to outperform the WA market, and the wider national market. There is a buoyant sentiment amongst our group with WA enjoying a long, hot summer and remaining relatively insulated from the recessionary mindset that is having a greater impact on the east coast.

We’re collaborating with brands on new product launches, and seeing the full capability of our in-house marketing team has been a real highlight this year. Delivering best-in-class marketing and merchandise programs, and achieving the right balance between these essential functions, remains pivotal to our success.

Q: What do you see as the biggest opportunities for Liquor Barons in the year ahead?

Our primary objective at Liquor Barons remains straightforward: to further enhance the profitability of our members, using bestin-market marketing programs to remain WA’s premier liquor retail brand.

Looking ahead, we recognise the pivotal role our loyalty database will play in driving our success. By delving into the wealth of

insights offered by our loyal customers, we can tailor our offerings precisely to meet their evolving preferences and behaviors, ensuring that our Barons Locals receive a compelling retail experience tailored to their needs.

Q: How did your brand partnership with Little Creatures come about, and how has the ‘Create your Kegacy’ campaign been received?

Teaming up with esteemed brands such as Little Creatures, who entrust our team to spearhead this campaign, is a testament to our expertise and credibility in the market.

This campaign aims to entice beer enthusiasts to visit their local Liquor Barons stores and make a purchase. The enthusiastic response across diverse media platforms confirms the effectiveness of our strategic targeting and unparalleled marketing capabilities.

Q: What are the biggest challenges for liquor retailers in Western Australia at the moment? How is Liquor Barons overcoming these?

As national chains continue to battle it out on price, maintaining profitability within the independent channel can face pressure. Liquor Barons distinguishes itself by offering value beyond mere price competitiveness,

exceptional customer service and tailored product offerings reflective of local preferences.

A challenge that specifically affects regional retailers in WA is local liquor restrictions. Liquor Barons supports and engages with the LSA WA, which actively works with the government on legislation.

Liquor Barons supports our retailers to safely serve their communities through collaboration with WA Police and the local council to help reduce harm around alcohol abuse in Kimberley.

Q: Why is now a good time to be a part of Liquor Barons?

As a true cooperative, our focus on a culture of support is something that sets us apart, and our engaged, passionate retailers are a primary driving force for the success of the group.

We have over 100 years of liquor retail support experience across our team, and this extensive knowledge translates into a range of top-tier services that would be almost impossible to replicate outside of a group setting.

We’re committed to running our Perthbased marketing and merchandise team, who have eyes on the ground here in WA where we can support individual stores to service their local communities better, and strengthening this model is a big focus. ■

Banner Groups
54 | National Liquor News

Liquor Legends embraces change in trading pace

Vaughan Peters, National Trade and Marketing Manager at Liquor Legends, shares some of the year’s highlights, from the inaugural Strategy Share Session to the rollout of electronic shelf labels.

Q: How has 2024 been for Liquor Legends thus far? What have been the challenges and opportunities over the past six months?

It’s been a very interesting year to date and I’m sure we aren’t the only retailers to say the same. January and February saw a bit of colour change in the performance and it would have been easy to create a sense of panic, but I consider it “just trading”.

There was an obvious hangover post-key selling period, stock weights were high and transactions were less, which made for a bit of a stalemate. Our reaction to this was to stay the course, insulate our Rewards membership base and continue to recruit into this space. The good news is we are seeing green again.

Our inaugural Strategy Share Session was well received back in March. The opportunity for us to share relative content and our focus pillars with our trading partners is invaluable in preparation for individual supplier partner alignment, not to mention the time saved. Our challenge now is to execute the plans and measure the outcomes.

Q: How have members optimised their use of LARA and Project Swordfish since their introduction across the group?

We are in the final stages of development and testing with the Legendary Automated Replenishment App (LARA) and members are certainly excited by a tool that can improve business efficiency. The second phase of Project Swordfish is about to be released. We have shared the capabilities of optimal personalisation in recent supplier partner joint business planning sessions, highlighting the ability to drive brand connection, shopper frequency and engagement which ultimately strengthens shopper relationships for our group members.

Q: What progress has been made so far on the integration of electronic shelf labels?

ESL is progressing very well, our operations team has rolled out to around 20 stores to date. Feedback from the stores has been nothing but positive. Appreciating the fact that ESL is a committed investment, the ROI is definitely rationalised and improvement to business efficiencies guaranteed.

Q: How is Liquor Legends leveraging its large Rewards membership?

We are very fortunate to be in the position of nurturing over 930,000 registered Rewards memberships. We have a biased approach to this network as a standalone strategic objective, given we understand what the loyalty means to our retail members, today, tomorrow and into the future.

Q: What plans does Liquor Legends have in place for the rest of the year?

We set our plans in line with the financial year, so we are about to celebrate a year gone and welcome a new one. Again, our recent Strategy Share will set our course for the next period ahead. By the time this article is published, our joint business planning sessions with supply partners will now be actionable plans.

We hold ourselves to account to deliver on these plans and to meet our number one strategic objective, which is to grow our group member’s gross profit. I’m excited by the next period, as I’ve mentioned we’ve witnessed a change in trading pace, we can never assume it will remain steady, that’s what is so fascinating of late and what keeps it exciting. ■

56 | National Liquor News Banner Groups

Paramount Liquor pushes for retailer autonomy

Nathan Rowe, CEO of Paramount Liquor, provided an update on the performance of Sessions and the launch of Bottle Stop.

Q: How have Sessions and Bottle Stop performed so far in 2024? What have been the highlights?

Sessions has experienced a remarkable third quarter in FY24 and is poised to continue this momentum into the fourth quarter, culminating in a solid FY24 result. Sales have increased by three per cent across our member base.

The industry has warmly welcomed Bottle Stop, with several key retail players committing to its rollout in the coming months. This enthusiasm is largely attributed to the autonomy retailers have over their stores, allowing them to select products that optimise sales and margins – two objectives that don’t typically align. Bottle Stop is well-positioned for long-term success in a highly competitive market.

Q: What are the biggest challenges for liquor retailers right now? How are your members overcoming these?

The retail sector faces common challenges across Australia, such as the cost of living, current spending patterns, CPI, and supplier price increases that are a concern in all industries at present.

Our members have successfully navigated these challenges by focusing on seasonal preference purchasing, particularly with RTDs, beer, and sparkling sales during summer periods. This strategy has proven effective in mitigating the impact of economic pressures.

Q: You’ve got bold growth plans for the next five years, can you share some insight into how you plan to scale your retail network over this time?

We have ambitious growth plans for the next five years, which we believe are attainable through a mix of growing our core business while innovating and expanding our retail footprint. We have a clear strategic plan with our retail team, led by our National Retail

Manager James Wasley, who have been working behind the scenes to ensure we offer a competitive edge while providing a streamlined onboarding process for new members.

Due to our digital-first approach and market-leading innovation, prospects for our banner groups are promising, with expansion plans across the eastern states and into South Australia designed to position them competitively while forming strategic partnerships with the right retailers to ensure sustained success.

This includes enhancing e-commerce and loyalty programs to drive additional sales and margins, ensuring our members benefit from our growth and value-added services.

Q: How can independent retail stores benefit from being a part of Sessions/Bottle Stop?

One our key differentiators is our proprietary POS system which we’re gifting to all members to ensure a digital-first approach, allowing them to unlock new revenue streams, increased loyalty and far more. Making a substantial impact for retailers by reducing staff costs, which in turn enhances store margins.

The autonomy our retailers possess allows them the freedom to stock products that suit their demographic, as they are most knowledgeable about their customers’ preferences, and this flexibility is a significant advantage.

While we’re experiencing challenging market conditions, it’s important to maintain a big picture perspective. If you’re a retailer seeking change and yearning for more control over your store, we encourage you to reach out.

We’re helping our members to not only keep up but to exceed market expectations by embracing technology, creating new revenue streams through e-commerce, building customer loyalty and in turn executing a dynamic digital marketing strategy. ■

58 | National Liquor News Banner Groups

In the mix

Despite cost-of-living pressures, consumers will continue to use premium mixers as a small indulgence for a variety of reasons this winter.

While the lockdowns of the pandemic are firmly fading into our rear view mirrors, some key trends that developed during these lockdowns still remain in play today. Perhaps one of the most lasting impacts has been the confidence and curiosity to explore ‘better’ drinks at home, a movement assisted by the exciting products that can be found in Australia’s premium mixer market.

Budgeting for the best

Although current cost-of-living pressures remain top of mind for many, a significant amount of Australian consumers have grown to understand the value of a good mixing partner, according to Caitlin Lockie,

Brand Manager at premium Australian mixer brand, Strangelove Beverages.

“We have found (a knock on effect from Covid times) that consumers are happy to shell out a few more dollars on a premium mixing option, to elevate at home drinking,” said Lockie.

“When you compare the price of a drink at a venue, versus experimenting at home, you actually end up with a pretty cost effective way of drinking quality, without breaking the bank.”

In such challenging economic times, consumers looking for value are not simply choosing the cheapest product on the shelf. Shoppers still want to treat themselves, as witnessed by the team at Buderim Ginger.

60 | National Liquor News Premium Mixers

“Tighter budgets are leading to more selective purchasing, however, we know that mixers remain resilient due to their ability to offer an affordable indulgence, allowing consumers to enjoy a sense of luxury without significant financial strain,” says Product Manager, Millie Mae.

On the occasions they choose to spend more, customers also want to trust they will be rewarded with quality. Beverley Reeves, Marketing Manager Non Liquor at Bickford’s, notes this is why “value is a perception, not a price”.

“Consistency is important, the last thing shoppers want is to be disappointed when they’ve decided to treat themselves,” she said.

Steve Carr, Trade Marketing Manager at Fever-Tree, said these mindsets are driving one of the top recent trends of premium mixers - a back to basics approach.

“The relative cost to trade-up your mixer is much lower than the cost to trade-up your spirit, so we are seeing Australians continue to premiumise their mixed drinks through their choice of mixer,” he said.

“We’ve seen mixed drinks as a spirit consumption style grow significantly over the past year while

cocktails have dropped. As people have lower disposable incomes, their willingness to make what is perceived a ‘risky’ purchase reduces, which is driving demand for trusted classic serves such as the gin and tonic and the whisky and dry. Simple, elevated serves is a key trend for 2024.”

Mixing for winter weather

Mixed drink tastes evolve with the seasons, with consumers now looking for beverages that can complement the dropping temperatures.

Kate Solly, Sales and Marketing Director at Capi, predicts the premium mixer winter season will once again be dominated by flavours “particularly suited for pairing with dark spirits, resonating during the cooler months”.

As Carr explained, safe choices for consumers will be dark ‘n stormy style drinks, with ginger becoming increasingly popular. Ginger can also appeal to light spirit fans this winter too though, for example, through the classic Moscow Mule, in which ginger and vodka can pair to bring a bit of warmth and spice even when dark spirits aren’t in the mix.

June-July 2024 | 61 Premium Mixers

What’s new

Some recent and upcoming activity in the premium mixer space indicate some of the directions in which the market is developing.

Easy mixing is key: Fever-Tree is helping make cocktail mixing easy with two new additions to the brand’s cocktail mixer family - Espresso Martini and Mango Passionfruit Martini.

Summer flavours can have a place all year round: Strangelove’s latest launches - Spiced Pineapple and Passionfruit Lo-Cal - are designed to give a tropical twist to classic cocktails, bringing a taste of summer to any season.

Versatile options deliver for all tastes: Capi aimed to cater to drinkers of a wide range of spirits with its latest releases, the Charred Pineapple and Low Sugar Lime sodas.

The ‘better for you’ movement continues: Buderim has tipped it will introduce new nosugar SKUs later this year, highlighting that great taste is still possible to deliver for healthconscious consumers.

Mixers don’t need alcohol: Bickford’s is updating and refreshing its range and branding to help elevate everyday consumption, whether the drinks are mixed with a spirit or consumed on their own.

But ginger won’t have all the fun this winter. Lockie says to watch out for boundary-pushing combinations, especially featuring mixers with specialty fruit flavours that are continuing to gain traction. One example is mandarin soda paired with malt whisky, which she says is: “Not your standard go-to but works surprisingly well together in the glass.”

Beyond the warming, the spicy, and the intriguing, this winter there can also be room for fresh flavours in mixed drinks. After all - given that many winter days can actually be quite mild in the Australian climate, consumers won’t solely be looking for heat in the glass.

Reeves says: “Options with a bit more body like juice-based mixers and fruit juices generally are often go-to choices to create creamy drinks that are traditionally popular because the taste delivery is more ‘fresh’ than ‘refresh’ –plus the addition of spices brings the warmth – cue the Bloody Mary!”

Stocking for success

Supermarkets may have a strong share of the mixer market, but liquor retailers can use premium mixers to craft a competitive advantage. There are many ways this can be done, largely stemming down to utilising what liquor stores can do that grocery stores can’t.

Mae said: “What we have seen work for us is working with liquor retailers to host in-store tasting events and offering bundled promotions, such as pairing spirits with complementary mixers, which supermarkets typically can’t match.”

When it comes to the product itself in-store, Carr said: “It’s all about location and education of serves to capture impulse purchases.

“In an ideal world, having mixers ranged within the spirit bay or off located

62 | National Liquor News Premium Mixers




on free standing display units with pairable spirits allows consumers to easily define a serve, explore a flavour and proceed to purchase.

“Price generally isn’t a major factor when convenience is at play. With a lot of stores, mixers are hidden or hard to find, so consumers won’t generally seek these out and would grab them in their grocery shop pre-planned. Even small things, such as having a till screen prompt within the store to ask consumers if they need a mixer, or a counter unit ready for a grab ‘n go – simple things can go a long way to drive incremental basket spend for retailers.”

Solly agreed that placement and in-store prompts are key drivers of impulse purchases, which can boost satisfaction.

“Today’s consumer prioritises convenience, and availability is key. They want to buy what they want, where they want it, and often, this is when they’re purchasing spirits… There is nothing more frustrating than getting home or to a party without the mixers you needed,” she said.

Communicating this availability at every touch point goes a long way to enabling impulse purchases, and as Reeves reminds us, that includes through the advice and customer service of staff.

Staff play such a key role in the creation of incremental purchases as they can also inspire customers to trade up and try something new. This is why Lockie’s top tip is “running through different ‘out of the box’ pairing options based on consumer preferences.

“We want consumers to see beyond the obvious choices and push the boundaries of drinks. It’s why we do what we do, to keep drinks interesting.” ■

Taste trends

In an age of innovation alongside nostalgia, there is a wide range found in the top trending flavours and serves. As Reeves noted: “It’s a real dichotomy of complex flavours like spice and savoury versus old school simplicity like lemon and pineapple and where the two meet, there’s often something unexpectedly special.”

These recipes offer an example of some trending tastes, especially for the winter months.

Lemon and Ginger: Penicillin


40ml Blended Scotch

10ml Peated Scotch

10ml Honey Syrup

15ml Lemon Juice

Fever-Tree Ginger Beer

Method: Build in a highball glass over ice, topping with the ginger beer. Garnish with lemon twist.

Specialty fruits: Pear’n Rum

30ml Dark Rum

90ml Strangelove Cloudy Pear Lo-Cal Soda

Method: Build in a short glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with Strangelove Smoked Pear Tipple Topper.

Pineapple: Pineapple Coconut


50ml Blanco Tequila

20ml Lime Juice

10ml Agave Syrup

25ml Coconut Milk

50ml Capi Charred Pineapple Soda

Method: Shake all ingredients except the soda together with ice. Top with the soda and give a quick stir. Strain into a salt-rimmed glass and garnish with charred pineapple wedge.

64 | National Liquor News Premium Mixers






Shining a light on Adelaide’s liquor retailers

Six independent retailers reflect on the highlights and challenges of operating in the South Australian liquor market, and the unique qualities that give them a point of difference.

With its strong focus on local products and proximity to some of Australia’s most respected wine regions, the South Australian liquor market is a unique one.

As with many places throughout the country, the market has changed in recent years in South Australia, with shifting customer preferences, cost-of-living pressures, and a growing food and wine culture in Adelaide all affecting the way that retailers orient to consumers.

Last month, six retailers spoke to National Liquor News about the challenges, opportunities and innovations in the retail liquor space in South Australia.

Drakes Cellarbrations leans into locality

South Australia has a very competitive liquor retailing landscape, with ongoing CPI increases, less consumer spending and rising business costs challenging retailers to fight for market share.

Independent retailer Drakes currently operates a total of six Cellarbrations stores in South Australia, each attached to its supermarket stores.

Offering a one-stop-shop model where consumers can purchase food and alcohol in one location,

with a special focus on local produce, the Drakes Cellerbrations offer is very attractive to the South Australian consumer.

Despite Endeavour Group dominating market share in South Australia, Joanne Elson, Category Manager SA & QLD at Drakes says growth for independent liquor channels in the last three years has been significant.

“We find the consumer enjoys shopping in a family-owned business where the service is always high, and the competitiveness of our pricing is strong.

“In South Australia our customers love ‘local’. We have some of the best wine producing regions in the country from the Adelaide Hills with the cooler climate famous for our Sauvignon Blanc and sparkling, the Barossa with our historic vineyards and full-bodied reds, and the Clare Valley for our world class Rieslings just to name a few,” she says.

Beyond South Australia’s famed winemaking, the state also has many established local beer producers such as Coopers and Pirate Life, and local spirits distilleries producing exceptional products. For Drakes, it is this love of local that allows the retailer to create a point of difference.

“As a family-owned business we focus heavily

66 | National Liquor News Adelaide Retailer Spotlight

on supporting local suppliers. We have worked hard to get unique products into stores to help drive sales.

“The added benefit of having superior supermarket stores gives our liquor stores an edge and our customers confidence. Our social media presence is also growing and we drive sales through our local area marketing.

“We can offer high quality food and liquor all in one location that resonates with our customers, with our staff having strong knowledge of their respective stores and what suits their demographics. We also help our local suppliers to get noticed in the market and drive economic growth for South Australia,” added Elson.

Speaking about shopper behaviours and category trends, Elson says Drakes has a high wine mix in its stores, predominantly driven by local, and like many other retailers across the country, RTDs are big movers.

“With cost-of-living pressures we’re seeing the $1525 wine price performing well. Our stores offer a wide varying range of wine in over 10 subcategories from reds to whites and fortified wines,” she says.

“We see the consumer moving toward the six-pack and 10-pack offer across the RTD market, getting strong growth, and high ABV is a big consumer trend taking off with increased volume in this space.”

Spirits-wise, Elson notes that gin, particularly local, has seen growth in recent years along with increased interest in tequila. More than anything, she believes that shopping behaviours are currently being influenced by a dip in discretionary spending.

“We see the shopper seeking value and moving away from big packs to smaller pack options. The Cellarbrations program is competitive and keeps us relevant with the consumer and ongoing challenges.”

East End Cellars reaches for Riesling

Opened in 1998 by wine fanatic Michael Andrewartha, East End Cellars is home to an array of local and international wines, often purchased in smaller quantities due to limited storage space, and so what you see on the shop floor makes up most of the total stock.

The tasting bar at Panorama Cellars is used for masterclasses, staff education, and private functions.
June-July 2024 | 67 Adelaide Retailer Spotlight
The tasting bar at Panorama Cellars is used for masterclasses, staff education, and private functions.

Shaughn Jenkins, Assistant Manager at East End Cellars, says: “We have a lot of wines that the larger bottle chains don’t carry, because of their quantities, and we have a lot of great local producers, which make up 50 to 60 per cent of the wine we sell.

“The vault in particular is key to this, because the wines are all under six bottle quantities in there. Some of them go way back in time or into tiny allocations that even we, after nearly 30 years, still have to fight for, to try and get the wines out of the hands of Sydney and Melbourne.

“It can be challenging, because a lot of those wines would sell in a weekend in those cities. But in a town of 1.5 million, with 55 per cent of the nation’s wine being made in our state,

there’s no shortage of wine, so we have to make sure we get them all into the right hands.”

One of the notable wines stocked by East End Cellars is the Kanta Riesling by Egon Müller, the result of a unique winemaking partnership in which German tradition meets the premium, cool climate fruit of the Adelaide Hills.

“The Kanta wine is something special, it’s actually our own Riesling and we work on that with a very famous German winemaker, Egon Müller,” says Jenkins.

“Egon comes over every year and works with Michael and the team. At Adelaide Hills we’ve got a couple of blocks that we source from, and we make a Riesling each year, which retails around $35 to $40.

“We started working with Egon 20 years ago, so it’s been quite a long time, and he is considered to be one of the top Riesling minds in the world. That was a very fortuitous friendship forged many years ago, and to be able to have someone of that knowledge come and work with us is very special.

“We always have our current vintage on by the glass so that people can get a taste for it, and jump straight into it without having to pay a hefty cost,” he concluded.

50 years of family at Fassina Liquor

The Fassina Liquor story begins in 1975, when father and son duo Joe and Ross Fassina bought a liquor wholesaler, then shortly after a bottling hall operation in Adelaide, bottling local and imported products such as Heaven Hill Bourbon, Clan Stuart Scotch Whisky, and Zhivago Vodka.

In the 1980s, the opportunity arose to expand into liquor retailing, and the family jumped at the chance.

Today, there are seven Fassina stores in Adelaide and one in Whyalla, as well as a large warehouse. Third generation retailer Elise Fassina spoke about how the family business honours its heritage.

“Our store name has changed a couple times over the last almost 50 years, and since 2004 we have operated proudly under our family name, Fassina Liquor. I’m told we are South Australia’s longest running familyowned wine store and the second oldest in Australia,” she said.

Now, the business is run by the second and third generation, with Elise’s father Ross as Managing Director, her aunt Eleanor as Finance Director, her brother Adam as Operations Manager, and herself as Marketing Manager.

“With both second and third family generations working side by side in the office every day, we are still truly a family business in every sense of the word,” says Elise.

The market for South Australian liquor retailers is increasingly challenging, especially

Inside East End Cellars.
68 | National Liquor News Adelaide Retailer Spotlight
East End Cellars prides itself on its unique and hard-to-get range of wines.

due to competition from Endeavour and Coles Group. Being independently owned and operated is an important point of difference for Fassina Liquor.

“It gives us a distinct advantage of being more flexible and able to execute a quicker turnaround time for rolling out new products and promotions. We also stand apart by acknowledging each store has a different customer base and working closely with each store’s manager to modify their range, along with maintaining a heavy focus on showcasing local products,” Elise said.

Over the coming months, Fassina Liquor is upgrading its systems and preparing to celebrate a major milestone next year.

“We are about to embark on a significant whole of system upgrade this year which, once completed, will enable us to offer our customers more convenience options, including click and collect and a unique customer-focused loyalty program,” added Elise.

“We are very excited to be celebrating the company’s 50th anniversary next year. While currently in the planning stage, our customers can expect big competitions, special tastings and sale events to mark our half a century as a South Australian family company.”

Hurley Cellars sees success with flexible ranging Hurley Cellars, the retail wing of Hurley Hotel Group, comprises five stores in Adelaide and two in regional South Australia. Hurley Hotel Group’s Retail Liquor Manager, Tony Hurley, explained

that being a South Australian owned and run business is a key point of difference for the stores.

“Compared to the national retailers, we’ve got a much better ability to market ourselves to our demographic here in South Australia. I think some of the national banners struggle with that because South Australia is only eight per cent of the population, so a lot of the national statistics are based on Melbourne, Sydney, and other bigger cities. We can target our offering to what our customers really want when they come into our store,” Hurley said.

Local South Australian products are a favourite across the stores, but preferred categories differ from location to location.

“At Panorama Cellars, wine seems more popular, and we’re not far from McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills. Other venues have a focus on premium spirits, like at Marion Cellars,” Hurley said.

Three Hurley Cellars locations feature tasting rooms, including the recently opened Panorama Cellars. These tasting rooms provide a space for staff, customers, and suppliers, to learn about and experience the products on offer.

“A tasting room provides an opportunity for our customers to sample a variety of wines, spirits or other beverages. Our tasting room can also serve as an educational space where customers can learn about different types of beverages, including their origins, production methods, and flavour profiles,” Hurley explained.

The Fassina family tasting wine inside their flagship Fassina Liquor Somerton Park store. Inside a Fassina Liquor store. Tony Hurley, Retail Liquor Manager, Hurley Hotel Group.
June-July 2024 | 69 Adelaide Retailer Spotlight
Inside Hurley Cellars at Arkaba Hotel.

One of the main uses for these tasting rooms are regular masterclasses, which are led by local producers.

“Hosting masterclasses attracts customers who are specifically seeking out a unique and immersive tasting experience. These masterclasses add a distinctive element to our brand identity and aim to attract both local customers and individuals seeking a tasting experience,” Hurley said.

Masterclasses also have a positive effect on sales, more so than other events like wine dinners.

“The masterclasses are shorter, and they attract people who have a passion for wine or for that particular producer. We also usually have competitive pricing or a value add to go along with the masterclass offering,” Hurley said.

Hurley emphasised the importance of flexible ranging to providing a quality customer experience.

“I would hate to think that any of our retail managers wouldn’t stock something that was really popular, that the consumer wants, just because they didn’t like it. You’ve got to be adaptable, to range the things that the market wants.”

Edinburgh Cellars ups the ante with fine wine focus

Since 1997, Edinburgh Cellars has operated as an independent liquor retailer from a heritage listed sandstone shopfront in the historic Mitcham village. Since then, there have been various incarnations of the shop, but it has always stood as an icon thanks to its connection to the wine industry and trade.

Offering a unique selection of fine, rare and carefully cellared wines, Edinburgh Cellars makes use of its surrounding wine regions and relationships with international wine importers. Sam Taylor, Cellar’s Manager at Edinburgh Cellars, says the store

has upped the ante over the last four years to make fine wine its niche focus.

“I liken this to the older UK-style independent wine merchants,” says Taylor. “I think we’re probably the last of this style independently left.”

At street level, Edinburgh Cellars has a full-service bottle shop, and just below, customers can expect to find a downstairs cellar. Previously, the store was home to a drive through, but in 1997 this was rebuilt in order to dig two underground cellars, one used for events and functions and the other home to an extensive range of back vintage Australian and international wines.

“This is 30 odd years’ worth of collecting and putting together,” says Taylor, speaking about the downstairs cellar. “Down here we have old Barolo, Barbaresco, plenty of Italian stuff because there’s a big Italian focus in Burgundy.

“We’re incredibly lucky because we have historical relationships that gave us the connection basis, but our two owners are pretty adventurous and like to have a crack at things.”

Inside Hurley Cellars, Panarama Hotel. Tom Ellis staffing the Panorama Cellars tasting bar. Joe Feliciotto and Sam Taylor in the cellar at Edinburgh Cellars. Beneath Edinburgh Cellars is a carefully curated cellar housing an extensive range of back vintage Australian and international wines.
70 | National Liquor News Adelaide Retailer Spotlight
Edinburgh Cellars is a proudly independent liquor store operating from a heritage listed sandstone shop-front in the historic Mitcham Village.

Surrounded by the Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, the Barossa Valley and the Clare Valley, Taylor says Edinburgh Cellars is in a prime position to attract prestigious players in the South Australian wine industry, and a number of notable names have worked in the shop while obtaining winemaking degrees.

“Nick Ryan worked here in ’05, and Adam Wadewitz of Shaw + Smith,” said Taylor. “Many of our casuals come through here while they’re doing their wine degrees, and it’s always a bit of fun.

“We’ve got a giant wall of great people, from those who have either worked here, or winemakers who have visited over a

long period of time and hosted tastings and masterclasses.”

Parade Cellars encourages industry collaboration

Parade Cellars aims to engage consumers with a diverse and unique selection of products. Ashely Sinclair, Parade Cellar’s Fine Wine Expert, explained that providing this experience requires both quality products and quality customer service.

“Our ethos is to provide our customers with an exciting range of local and international wines, spirits and beers. Our experienced team aim to provide a high level of customer service and expertise, in order

to ensure our customers leave the store with a product that fits their needs and that they feel excited about,” he said.

Parade Cellars includes a fine wine room, which is separated from the main body of the store both for security reasons and to create an atmosphere.

“It’s part of the experience. People who drink these types of wines, they like to come into the room, to feel special. They generally like to grab one of the staff members and have their attention for a while. We have a very high standard of staff, and if it gets them over the line to buy something, it’s part of what we want to do more of,” Sinclair said.

Consumer preferences for wine have changed significantly in recent years, especially during and following the pandemic. Sinclair pointed especially to a shifting interest in natural wine for the off-premise.

“When everything was locked down, the bar is the place where people would normally drink out, but they had nowhere to source their wine. We had an influx of customers chasing it, and an influx of winemakers wanting to sell their wines,” he said.

However, as venues reopened, this trend reversed, and consumers returned to the onpremise for their natural wines. In Sinclair’s opinion, these unique wines are easier to promote in the on-premise because consumers are more willing to allow servers and bar staff to guide their drink choices. However, Sinclair sees more opportunities for collaboration between the on- and off-premise.

“I don’t think we talk about the relationship between the on- and offpremise enough. We’ve got Arkhé, one of the most respected, most booked-out restaurants in Adelaide, just down the road from us, and their wine list and our selection has a lot of crossover,” he said.

“There’s room for everyone, and I think we could do a better job at interacting more and being more tolerant of our competition. We might as well find areas where we can prop each other up.” ■

June-July 2024 | 71 Adelaide Retailer Spotlight
Declan Howkins and Ashley Sinclair at Parade Cellars. Inside Parade Cellars.

Empire Liquor: Strong relationship with strong brands

While Empire Liquor has encountered a number of operational challenges during 2024, its unique and high quality portfolio has continued to engage customers and consumers alike.

Adelaide-based distributor Empire Liquor offers a unique portfolio, with a particular focus on German and English beer and family-owned Australian wine.

National Liquor News spoke to Owner and Managing Director Brenton Quirini about the business’s history and how it has fared during 2024.

Quirini joined Empire Liquor in 1993, with a long history in the liquor industry prior to joining the company. Growing up, his parents owned and ran an Adelaide pub, and in his working life, he held sales roles with Seagram’s and United Distillers, as well as a stint as a publican himself.

“From 1993 onwards, it was my goal to establish a boutique wholesale distribution business that focused on family-owned wine labels, and I am very proud to say that two of those labels have been with the evolving business since 1978; d’Arenberg and Pauletts,” Quirini said.

Empire Liquor has expanded significantly in the 30 years since Quirini joined the business.

“From humble beginnings in a double brick garage, selling during the day, invoicing, and packing during the night, the business moved to a small office and warehouse in the CBD off Halifax Street, Adelaide.

“After five years there, we moved to Underdale, in what was the old Norman’s Winery warehouse. We were there for seven years and needed more space as our imported beer business had grown further and room for kegs, both full and empty, necessitated more room. In 2007, we purchased our current office warehouse in Edwardstown, where we operate from today,” he said.

Quirini is proud to say that over the years, Empire Liquor has been a stepping stone in the career of some industry heavy-hitters.

“One of the many joys of being in this business has been the chance to offer people a start and see them go on and blossom in their careers. With sales reps going on to be national sales managers, international presidents of sales and marketing directors, and administration staff going on to be office and administration managers, it has been very satisfying to think that Empire Liquor was a stepping stone for their career.”

Today’s landscape

Like many businesses, Empire Liquor is seeing the effects of reduced consumer spending.

“Q3 and Q4 for FY24 have been incredibly

72 | National Liquor News Distributor Profile
Pauletts Founder and Chief Winemaker Neil Paulett and his son, Matt Paulett, Operations Manager.

challenging for our customers, especially on-premise. With consumer confidence soft across Australia directly affecting discretionary spending, consumers are either staying at home more or if they are going out, spending around 50 per cent less. Many are opting to drink more at home and may also trade down on price,” Quirini said.

The economic situation also presents challenges for Empire Liquor in its import and distribution operations.

“The greatest challenges for us currently are the control of operating expenses, including overseas and domestic freight. These aspects of our business we cannot do without, but seemingly know no boundary or control,” Quirini said.

In response to the difficult operating conditions, Empire Liquor emphasises its unique portfolio, which includes Australian wines as well as premium beers from Germany and the UK.

“Our UK beer range has now grown with the addition of Theakston’s from Yorkshire, joining Old Speckled Hen, Hobgoblin, Greene King, and Belhaven. All beer products adhere to our unshakable policy of being ‘brewed in the country of origin’,” Quirini said.

In addition, the connections Quirini has built with both customers and suppliers are an asset to the business, and reflect the business’s values of authenticity, provenance, and respect.

“The trust and strong relationships that has been built over more than 40 years allows us to do business on a very personal basis. Many customers who have been with us since the business first started back in 1978 continue to support our long tenure Australian wine brands including d’Arenberg and Pauletts as well as Munich’s famous Hofbrau Beer,” he said.

“When opportunities present themselves, the benefit of going direct to the person who can decide and not having to wait for boards does make getting on with business a whole lot easier.”

A positive outlook

For the remainder of the year, Empire Liquor will focus on improving the efficiency and cost effectiveness of product distribution, as well as introducing new products in its UK beer portfolio.

“Our brand development will focus on our new UK brands, which will include Theakston’s, St Austell, Badger, and Timothy Taylor. All these products will join our range during the remainder of 2024,” Quirini said.

Quirini is confident that consumers will continue to seek out quality products like those imported and distributed by Empire Liquor.

“Although a niche sector, I still have faith in the desire from consumers to access great international beers to enjoy, either at the pub or at home. The brands we are attracted to are those that have a great heritage and provide high quality that has been recognised by their longevity of operation,” he said.

“In the wine category, my aim is to work with family-owned brands in two categories: those with a great track record for consistency, recognition, and value, as well as new and up and coming future super star brands. It’s always exciting to be working with the established brands and newer brands alike.” ■

June-July 2024 | 73 Distributor Profile

Carlingford Cellar Door packs a punch for its size

In its first six months of opening, the Sydney bottle shop has been well-received for its unique and expansive range.

Moving from a career in wine supply and distribution, Proprietor Tore Margiotta has opened Carlingford Cellar Door in Sydney’s northern suburbs, offering an expansive and unique range within the store’s small footprint.

Margiotta began his career in the wine industry in 2006, most recently working as State Sales Manager for Pure Wine Co. Other roles with Delegat and Treasury Wines, as well as knowledge gained from completing the Wine & Spirits Education Trust Diploma in 2012, have fostered his passion for wine that is evident at Carlingford Cellar Door.

“I’ve worked with countless wine retailers and producers around Australia, which inspired me to create a special place where both wine geeks and novices can find something amazing to enjoy,” Margiotta said.

Small producers are a particular focus for Margiotta, alongside an impressive international range with a particular focus on Italian wines. This interest in independent producers is continued across the beer and spirits range, with the spotlight on local companies and a good selection of German and Belgian beers.

“The chains are focused on pushing their private label brands and the same old tired drinks you see everywhere else, so we really want to support great local producers and those small family businesses that strive to create something exciting.

“There is clearly a hunger out there to discover something new and delicious. Local producers such as The Primary Goods Co, which is Parramatta’s first

legal distillery, and Village Days Brewery at Gladesville are creating delicious and distinctive drinks that offer a real point of difference,” he said.

Margiotta continues to engage his customers with tasting events every Friday and Saturday night, introducing shoppers to products they may not have tried before. The tastings have become a major drawcard for customers, and Margiotta has seen success through promoting them on Instagram and a new TikTok account.

“We’re trying to make the content fun, keep it light. There’s a lot of slow, boring content about wine, but we want to make sure that our accounts are accessible to anyone,” he said.

Margiotta seeks to provide his customers with value and encourages them to explore different styles of products than what they would usually drink.

“With the range, we made sure that whether you want to spend $20 or $200, you’re getting something that’s excellent value for money, something that’s delicious, and something that you’re not going to find everywhere else,” he said.

“Within the shop, we have shelf talkers that tell the customers a bit of the story of that product. They will say things like, this wine is great because it speaks to the place it’s from, or it won a trophy at this show. We’re trying to give people a reason to try something new. The range is constantly evolving, so every time a customer comes in, they can find something new. If you like to explore, there’s always new things to check out here.” ■

“There is clearly a hunger out there to discover something new and delicious. Local producers such as The Primary Goods Co, which is Parramatta’s first legal distillery, and Village Days Brewery at Gladesville are creating delicious and distinctive drinks that offer a real point of difference.”

Tore Margiotta

Tore Margiotta, Proprieter, Carlingford Cellar Door (Image credit: Magnetic Shots)
74 | National Liquor News Retailer Spotlight

Do you have an upcoming launch, NPD, line extension or promotion? Then drive brand awareness. Support your sales team. Book a campaign.

Contact * Google Analytics 2021, TheShout averaged 60,497 unique users per month.
Shane T Williams to book now! on 02 8586 6205 or email
unique users every month.

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.