By Amelia Ball

Keeping on top of the issues impacting on the liquor industry has been the focus of the Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA) conference this week.

Liquor retailers, suppliers and member partners have attended a number of invaluable sessions and seminars over the past few days, providing insights to assist in business on return.

Gathering at Palm Cove, the delegates heard from a number of speakers, including yesterday’s address on retailing from Steve Ogden-Barnes, who represented the Australian Centre for Retail Studies at Monash University.

Detailing the successful approach of a number of international retail businesses, Ogden-Barnes highlighted the need for operators to hone their points of difference.

ALSA president Mal Higgs and CEO Terry Mott broke down some of the issues fuelling the ongoing debate labelled by some as the ‘binge-drinking epidemic’. They also reiterated the many benefits of being an ALSA member and the importance of retaining a united front between the independents and chains.

“If you go to the Government as a fragmented industry, you will not have any success,” Mott said. “If you’re united as the voice of the entire retail sector, then you have a chance of being heard.”

Yesterday’s sessions finished with an industry forum, in which a number of company representatives fielded questions that triggered debate.

With Foster’s, McWilliam’s Wines, Lion Nathan, ALM/IBA, Constellation Wines, De Bortoli Wines, Coca-Cola Amatil, DSICA and ALSA represented on the panel, the forum provoked much discussion on the issue of pricing, GP, the coming ‘09 vintage, retail trends and the relationship between supplier and customer.

It precedes the hypothetical forum to be held today, where veteran journalist George Negus will take liquor supply heads through a number of hard-hitting questions.

The big week wraps up tonight with a gala dinner.

The Shout Team

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

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