In the June issue of National Liquor News, Corey Leeson, General Manager of Independent Liquor Retailers (ILR), discusses how localised tailored strategies will remain key to the group’s success for the rest of this year and beyond.
National Liquor News: How has ILR been faring in 2022 so far, and what do you see as the biggest opportunities and challenges coming from this for the rest of the year?
Corey Leeson: We’re holding strong and continuing to grow sales with above average growth in certain categories. We are continuing to expand and invest, to grow the membership in new markets of QLD and soon VIC.
Opportunities include our continued roll out of digital services to improve marketing and grow sales via digital advertising and e-commerce solutions. Plus, we will be riding the market trend of shopping local. We are the only group in Australia with the name Local Liquor, so we will be launching a brand campaign to show the benefits of shopping local and celebrating the community our retailers operate in.
The biggest challenge will be managing the continually increasing cost of doing business, with the ongoing battles of logistics, fuel costs, import costs, dry goods costs and out of stocks all putting pressure on prices.
NLN: What are the key things you are working on to support your members at the moment?
CL: We are aiming to be the market leader in regionalised advertising by capitalising on the trends of local products. We have set up our business to be able to market in smaller areas within NSW, ACT and QLD to tailor advertising with popular local products and be a champion of the community. This provides a key point of difference to our competitors while supporting local producers.
We are also rolling out cost saving measures for retailers to help them with their costs of running a business. These include electricity offers, merchant services savings, paperless receipts and convenience lines savings, as well as exclusive category programs that offer additional discounts and rebates for stocking profitable, high margin lines supported by suppliers.
NLN: What is the role of e-commerce for ILR right now?
CL: We have set up our own e-commerce platform under myfoodlink to provide an option for members to get into online retailing. Seeing the growth in online, we understand the need to have an omnichannel presence and so have partnered with marketplace solutions such as DoorDash and Uber to help our retailers cater to demand with same day delivery.
NLN: What is the general focus at ILR now and into the rest of 2022?
CL: To provide solutions to help members save on costs of doing business and provide programs and platforms that will deliver incremental margin and increased consumer foot traffic. We’re continuing to work on regionalising our offers to cater for local demographics and upscaling our digital and online offerings to steal customers from our competitors.
NLN: How can suppliers better support banner groups right now?
CL: Provide a point of difference to help the independent sector. Brands are grown in independents, not the chains. Provide unique products and promotions that give us enhanced margins and a reason to support.
But also be mindful that stores don’t have ‘rubber walls’. The amount of new product being launched is out of control. If we are going to support a new line, it has to deliver higher than normal promo GP and shelf GP, be backed by an extensive marketing and sampling campaign and have an exit strategy if it doesn’t work.
NLN: Anything else to add?
CL: If anyone is interested in looking at a banner that will deliver you a more profitable and customised solutions to make you succeed, give us a call. We bat above our weight and if you want to be a true local and champion of your community, join Local Liquor.
Find this interview and the rest of the annual banner group feature in the June issue of National Liquor News.