Liquor Barons is ‘debt free and in great shape’
By James Wells
With zero debt and hundreds of thousands of dollars in rebates paid to its cooperative, Liquor Barons claims it is in the best position to capitalise on an improvement in the WA economy.
Liquor Barons general manager, Chris O’Brien, delivered a positive outlook to 129 delegates at the group’s Transatlantic conference this week.
“At our conference last year in Bunker Bay, we discussed how to create growth in a tough retailing environment, so 12 months on we are certainly in or have been through tough times. It has been tough but we are starting to see some green shoots in WA, and over the next month we will start to see a small upswing, because what we have seen already is the rate of decline has decreased significantly – particularly in the period March through May – much better than the September to February period,” he said.
“As a business, I think we are pretty well positioned to ride this upswing within this economic cycle. We are sitting today at 71 outlets, the cooperative is in excellent financial health and we have zero debt.
“The focus we have had over the last handful of months reducing our expenses has already returned hundreds of thousands of dollars in rebates back to members which is over and above budget. So the plan we spoke about in February and March this year is delivering what we said it would do.
“We have refocused our staff and as a result we have become leaner at a head office level and most importantly it is more efficient in how we work. Pleasingly, from a supplier perspective we have become easier to deal with and easier to work with based on the feedback we have received following the changes. I think also in terms of talking to our members, our communication has increased and the amount of time we are spending in our stores or talking to our members has increased significantly and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
“We have also increased our digital marketing capability. After a false start Liquor Barons now has two full time people particularly doing social media with Facebook and Instagram, and we have had a couple of good early wins. We have launched an On the Vine website which looks absolutely fantastic, in the quality and the quantity of digital content we are putting into the market and all of our measures show we are kicking some goals albeit we are quite youthful in this space.”
O’Brien also said he will be working to improve the group’s loyalty program which now boasts over 110,000 members. Earlier this week TheShout reported that Liquor Barons will concentrate on promoting its brand through a $500,000 marketing plan for the second half of 2017.