By James Atkinson
Moët Hennessy Australia is facing a serious backlash from its customers over its decision to launch a new e-commerce site that sells the company’s entire portfolio of wine and spirits direct to the public.
The new website, Moët Hennessy Collection, offers competitive pricing on the company’s full range of luxury alcohol brands with metropolitan delivery times of one to three days.
Moët Hennessy Australia managing director Boris de Vroomen told TheShout the website recognises the “irreversible trend” of consumers seeking direct connections with luxury brands online.
He said the From The Producer e-commerce wine website launched today by the Winemakers' Federation of Australia is further evidence of this trend.
De Vroomen stressed that Moët Hennessy Collection is heavily focused on gifting occasions, bundle deals and unique products such as cellar door exclusives and back vintages.
“It’s not like a grocery model, it’s very rich in content,” he said.
“We have absolutely no intention to replace the business of our retail partners – we see this as something that is complementary and incremental.”
“I understand that a few people are vocal about it and it’s causing a stir with them, but you’re talking about a small number of retailers here. That’s not representing the entire feedback that we are receiving from the market.”
However, TheShout has spoken off the record this afternoon to executives from several of New South Wales’ largest banner groups who are absolutely livid at the move and are now reconsidering their relationships with Moët Hennessy.
Other independents who were happy to speak openly, such as online retailer Winestar and Sydney CBD retail group Red Bottle, have already cut ties.
“We’re led to believe from an independent viewpoint that Winestar was probably their biggest retailer in Victoria,” Winestar’s Bert Werden told TheShout.
“We stuck with them through the whole grey import saga, so it’s a bit of a slap in the face for us. We thought we did the right thing, and now they are absolutely a competitor.”
“It goes totally against the loyalty that we’ve shown them.”
In an act of retribution, Winestar is now advertising on its homepage Moët NV Champagne for $39.95, which was sourced on the secondary market.
Retailers 'battling suppliers for market share'
Meanwhile, Red Bottle Group director Scott Towers told TheShout he is instructing his six Sydney CBD liquor stores and corporate supply business to cease purchasing from Moët Hennessy Australia.
“Red Bottle cannot support Moët Hennessy’s decision to sell its entire portfolio direct to the public in direct competition to all liquor retailers,” Towers said.
And Tim Kelly, owner of Brisbane’s The Wine Emporium, said he “cannot believe that retailers would accept this direction from one of their key suppliers”.
“Us retailers, not only do we battle the big boxes, now we’ve got to fight our own suppliers for market share,” he said.
“I think it’s the most contentious issue facing retailers since the Australian Government has allowed the predominance of Coles and Woolworths in the liquor industry.”
“That’s how important I regard this issue,” said Kelly.
Liquor Stores Association NSW president David Reberger told TheShout: “It is not surprising that retailers are extremely concerned by this development, as we all recognise that retail liquor trading conditions are very tough.”