By James Atkinson
There are significant opportunities to bring more independent liquor retailers into the 2400-strong Independent Brands Australia (IBA) network, according to Metcash CEO Ian Morrice.
Morrice told delegates at this week's IBA Trade Workshop that IBA brought across more than 100 new retailers last year and a similar outcome was expected in the current reporting period.
He said IBA continues to outperform the market, at a time when other independents are struggling – as reported yesterday on Smart Licensee.
"The last year has been incredibly tough in the market, but yet again IBA has grown sales and you've grown your profits, in a market which has been flat," he told the retailers.
"There aren't too many other retail groups and networks out there that are doing that as independents." [continues below]
He said Metcash has earmarked up to $20 million of capital expenditure over the next three years to provide a more sophisticated online and digital solution for retailers in all its pillars of grocery, liquor, automotive and hardware.
"What that offers you is local website construction and social media content… on a much more cost effective basis," he said.
"We realise that interacting with consumers online is a very important factor."
Morrice said Metcash plans to accelerate the liquor division's evolution from being a wholesaler to being a retail-focused business.
"A few years ago when IBA was first conceived we were very much a box mover, but that's changed," he said.
"We're now at the 50/50 point – half of the business is in IBA, half of the business is in pure wholesale."
"We see that tipping significantly now into the retail side. Our focus is going to be very much about driving growth for you and with you as a retail-focused wholesale business."
"It is the way to get profitable growth," the CEO said.
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