By James Atkinson

Metcash’s Australian Liquor Marketers (ALM) business grew earnings 45.2 per cent to $24.1 million for the half year to October 31, while the division also confirmed its acquisition of a fourth hotel in Queensland.

The 45.2 per cent EBITA growth reflects the full six-month contribution of the Liquor Marketing Group (LMG) volumes, and was off the back of sales growth of 20.9 per cent.  

Metcash said the LMG contract continued to perform well growing overall sales by 18.8 per cent (six months versus one month of LMG in the previous corresponding period). 

But ALM CEO Fergus Collins said underlying growth was also strong, with sales through its Independent Brands Australia (IBA) business growing three per cent, and ALM’s on-premise wholesale business performing extremely well, growing at nine per cent on the previous year.

Club Partners (retail group for clubs) increased members and provided a six per cent growth in sales. 

The IBA Retailer Support Program produced net growth of 37 stores, with plans in place for a further 26 new stores by end of the financial year.

Wine a highlight as private label grows

Collins said the liquor market continues to be “very flat… so it’s obviously very good news that independents and IBA are growing, and growing well above the market”. 

He said the wine category was a standout for IBA stores, with like-for-like sales of bottled wine up 5.2 per cent, mainly in the $15-$25 price bracket.

Collins revealed that ALM had expanded its successful private label program to include the supply of spirits and wine to bars and clubs.

“It’s compulsory that all the IBA outlets actually range all the wine, beer and spirits for private label,” Collins added.

“The Summer Dry [Lager] is doing over 100,000 cases a year, that’s obviously very strong for the group.”

But Collins said that unlike the chains, private label would never grow to represent 30 per cent of IBA’s range. It would instead grow in line with IBA’s overall sales, topping out at a maximum eight per cent share.

ALM buys Sunshine Coast pub

Collins revealed that ALM now owns four hotels and eight detached retail bottleshops in Queensland, with the acquisition of the Bellvista Tavern on the Sunshine Coast at the end of October.

Located in Caloundra West, the Bellvista features a 150-seat bistro with outdoor dining, children's room, TAB and Keno facilities, a gaming room and a Cellarbrations drive-through bottleshop.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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