By Andy Young

The final night of the annual Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA) Conference, which took place on the Gold Coast this week, saw the naming of the association’s 2016 Young Liquor Retailer of the Year. TheShout caught up with Rebecca Polley following her win.


What does it mean to you to be named the 2016 ALSA Young Liquor Retailer of the Year?

This award and recognition is a tremendous honour. It also represents an excellent opportunity to further my knowledge and gain valuable insights that I hope to repay to my customers and to the wider drinks industry.

What do you hope to get out of the 2017 ALSA Study Tour to Europe?

Europe is both the largest importer and exporter of alcoholic beverages in the world. This Study Tour is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get an insider’s look at how liquor retailing operates in a large competitive modern economy and to consider adaptability of best practices into our own industry to continue growth. The opportunity to spend quality one-on-one time with some of our industry leaders will also give me the ability to broaden my knowledge.

What are some of the biggest issues currently facing the retail liquor industry and how do you think the industry can go about addressing them?

Now more than ever our customers are in the driver’s seat. Customers have more and more choice when it comes to drinks especially in the rapidly growing online sector. For traditional retailing, it is imperative that we continue to adapt to these changes in consumer trends. Customers are more selective in ranging, demanding more value for money and nothing but the best in customer service.

This is the second Young Liquor Retailer win for BWS, what is it that they are doing to help you guys to become such successful retailers?

We are fortunate to have a leader that recognises store managers and teams are closest to understanding and responding to our customers and empowers us to do what is best for our own stores. There are no two stores alike just as there are no two leaders alike. We have some of the best industry training in retailing standards and leadership development. It is also a business that genuinely cares for its team members. An example is the personal support and flexibility given to me to finish my tertiary education while continuing my career growth at the same time.

This is also the second win for a female, do you think women are starting to get a stronger foothold in the liquor industry?

The Endeavour Drinks Group values diversity and ensuring our team and team leaders are representative of the communities we serve. In Queensland, we are fortunate to have great role models through our five female area managers and many female store CEOs.

What led you to a career in liquor retailing?

I started my career in retailing in our supermarkets division, it was my first job. About two years ago an exciting opportunity to transfer over to liquor came up and I jumped at the chance to work in a fast paced and challenging role. Very quickly I knew that I had found my forever career.

What have been some of the most successful innovations in your store?

I firmly believe success is rooted in doing the basics to a very high level to deliver a solid foundation for how we can then go above and beyond. In my store we know our customers. One of the best innovations as a business was a relatively simple one – a first class automated ordering and replenishment system assists us in giving our customers 100 per cent of our focus. By focussing on having the right products at the right price at the right time, we have more time to spend with our customers one-on-one, to engage with them and create genuine relationships with our community. We are our local’s bottle shop.

What approaches do you take to give your store a unique offering?

We are really lucky to have some great boutique brewers and distillers close to our store. With our tailored ranging we stock local products that aren’t available in all stores. Our customers love that we not only have the well-known brands but are investing in local ventures. Customer feedback is a key driver in all the decisions we make relating to our store. Our customers know that when they give feedback, we don’t just listen, we act.

See the September issue of National Liquor News for the full article.

The Shout Team

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

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