By Amy Looker on the Gold Coast

The Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA) wrapped up its annual conference on Wednesday (26 August), held at the Sheraton Mirage on the Gold Coast.

The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Seize The Opportunity’ and delegates were given plenty of inspiration to identify and seize opportunities in their individual businesses once they return to them.

A stellar line up of speakers provided a valuable insight to the state of the industry, with ALSA president, Mal Higgs, and ALSA chief executive officer, Terry Mott, telling the assembled delegates at Wednesday night’s gala dinner that this has been the most successful conference to date, a point that virtually all delegates agreed with.

The conference opened on August 24 with a talk from economist, Peter Switzer, discussing the economic and environmental impact of the retailing in Australia’s current economic climate.

This year’s hypothetical session posed some interesting questions on the future of the industry to a panel consisting of Vincent Kelly (director of sales strategy, Lion Nathan), Tim Salt (managing director, Diageo), Michael McShane (managing director, Brown-Forman Beverages), and John Grant (president, Constellation Wines).

Later that afternoon, the Federal Minister for Health and Ageing officially opened the conference with a controversial speech that called on the industry to work alongside the Government on their terms or deal with the consequences.

Other standout sessions included the ALSA forum, where delegates were given the opportunity to quiz an expert panel of industry representatives, and a session hosted by Chris Watters, chief executive officer of DrinkWise, outlining the success of previous Drinkwise campaigns and what’s coming up next, including the launch this week of a campaign to encourage parents to delay the age that they allow their teen children to first try alcoholic beverages.

The conference finished on a high note with a Las Vegas/Casino Royale themed conference dinner, that saw a private casino set up for delegates, where they could (responsibly) gamble the night away using ALSA dollars they had accumulated during the course of the conference.

The ALSA dollars could then be redeemed for prizes at an auction, theatrically hosted by former auctioneer and Forest Hill Bottle Shop (NSW) owner, Bob Quormby.

Entertainment from Paul Martell and Jane Scali set the scene even further as they belted out classic show tunes and had the crowd in stitches with their comedy act.

The Angostura/Island2Island Golf Day capped off the conference yesterday, with delegates heading to the Colonial Golf Club for a day on the greens.

A full conference wrap-up will feature in the October issue of National Liquor News.

The Shout Team

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

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