In the 2023 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum, Chris Baddock, CEO of Australian Liquor Marketers (ALM), talks about what the group’s positive results in a number of areas shows about consumers.

The independent liquor channel was a bright area in 2022 for Metcash, parent company of Australian Liquor Marketers (ALM). In the first half results of the company’s financial year (May to October 2022), ALM showed strength in a number of areas.

In this period, ALM saw continued increased preference for local neighbourhood shopping and at-home consumption, leading to increases in shopper basket sizes. In the numbers, this was reflected by an 11.6 per cent increase in total sales (including charge-through), a 1.3 per cent increase in wholesale sales to ALM’s network of Independent Brands Australia (IBA) bannered retailers, and a 14 per cent increase in sales of Owned and Exclusive brands. Retail growth was complemented by great results in the on-premise segment too, with a 47.8 per cent increase in sales to these customers. Chris Baddock, CEO of ALM, said such impressive performance has been driven by consumers’ growing love for local independent liquor.

“The attractiveness of local shopping (convenience) with a wide as well as local range and being able to serve the local community through locals who own the store has helped to deliver the results,” Baddock said.

The strength of the independent liquor retail channel has been a key highlight for Baddock in 2022, alongside ALM’s ability to support customers in the on-premise as the sector recovered from pandemic restrictions. Such an environment also created core challenges to navigate in 2022, with staff shortages, supply chain issues and inflation affecting both the ALM business and IBA retailers.

And while unpredictable economic conditions are likely to remain challenging in 2023, Baddock is confident in the entire ALM network’s ability to overcome them.

“As proven during the past three years, both IBA and the independent retailer has shown agility to react and adapt to the ever-changing needs of our customers,” he said.

Championing successful independents

The mantra for IBA is simple – to champion successful independents. Baddock said there are three main focuses to this mission that the company will develop further this year.

The first is being famous for the right brand and offer, by building brands which appeal to every liquor shopper across supermarket attached (IGA), convenience retail (Cellarbrations, The Bottle-O and Thirsty Camel), speciality destination (Porters) and Big Box (Cellarbrations and The Bottle-O super stores). IBA has a store and program which appeals to all shoppers’ needs.

The second focus is to be a frictionless order to cash wholesaler, as Baddock explained.

“This year we will launch R.O.S.S (Retailer One Stop Shop) where all ALM customers will be able to access their needs located in one portal. In addition, we will expand ALM Connect and continue to build the extended aisle so retailers can access product from across the industry which may not always be in our warehouses,” he said.

Finally, IBA will be creating “sticky shoppers and customers”, by continuing to enhance the group’s e-commerce offer, and taking its loyalty program from trial to a full launch.

Baddock added: “We will continue to ensure our retailers have the right range at a competitive price – a focus that will never end!”

As the liquor retail industry evolves into 2023, Baddock said the partnership between retailers and suppliers will be incredibly important, especially with NPD and innovation. Owned and exclusive brands, particularly in the value sector, will be big players to create category growth in this space.

“I would like to thank all retailers and suppliers for their partnership – we truly believe that working together and understanding our role in the eco-systems builds a sustainable independent liquor trade,” Baddock concluded.

Find more from the 2023 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum here.

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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