By Deborah Jackson, Editor National Liquor News
Chris O'Brien, the General Manager of Liquor Barons has told the National Liquor News Annual Industry Leaders Forum that 2017 is set to be one of the most exciting years for the group as it as it enters its "next phase" of innovation and technology.
"The 2017 year promises to be another challenging one on many fronts, but for Liquor Barons it also promises to be one of the most exciting, with real opportunities to use those challenges as a catalyst to grow our brand and revenues, and to reach new markets," O'Brien told NLN.
"Underpinning all that we do, will be our continued investment in technology, which will enable us to reach our existing customers, attract new ones, and increase the cost effectiveness of our sales channels.
"At the same time, we need to be able to prepare for what we believe is a fundamental shift in the traditional sales model. The model that has been successful for the best part of 20 years – the McDonalds approach – is coming to an end. What has served us well for so long is not necessarily what is going to take us into the future to reach the modern consumer," said O'Brien.
The next phase for Liquor Barons will be one of innovation and differentiation based on extensive market research, investment in technology and higher levels of service, targeted at specific consumer groups.
"We are in a fortunate position, in that we have a very strong brand which is known both in the trade but importantly also by the liquor shoppers and consumers. We will look in the future at ways we can maximise the effectiveness of that brand strength and also take advantage of the excellent individual strengths of our stores.
"To this end, we are currently piloting two sites, using a hybrid model that we are confident will allow us to reach a range of customers from the off-the-street convenience buyer to the more sophisticated and knowledgeable wine buyer who is prepared to pay a little more for the service offering depth and breadth of wine knowledge.
"Liquor Barons have become a leader in innovation in the liquor industry at both a range level and at a total customer experience level. This will continue to be a key platform of our growth strategy in the future.
"Yes, 2017 will be challenging, but we believe it may also herald an invigorating new era for the co-operative."
For the full interview with Chris O'Brien see the 2017 National Liquor News Annual Industry Leaders Forum, available this month.