“The beginning of 2023 was a turbulent time for retailers,” says Chris O’Brien, General Manager of Liquor Barons, reflecting on inflationary pressure. Despite economic threats, O’Brien speaks of a positive year for the cooperative, which he attributes to Western Australia’s resilient market.

“What we saw last year was a slight downturn in on-premise figures, which has led to a slight upturn in the off-premise, and as the leading liquor retailer in WA, we’ve benefitted from this shift in consumer behaviour.

“The Liquor Barons team has worked hard to deliver a profitable year for our members. Throughout 2023 we supported our members with best-in-class marketing and merchandise programs, and getting the balance right for these two key functions was pivotal.”

Rising retail crime

While Liquor Barons had a successful year, staff safety was a growing concern amid an increase in reported assaults from liquor retail workers in WA.

“The number one focus for Liquor Barons has always been to keep our staff safe,” says O’Brien. “We work in close collaboration with the Liquor Stores Association of Western Australia (LSA WA), West Australian Police and WA media to ensure this important issue continues to be mitigated.

“We want to ensure our staff have a safe place to work and will continue to support legislation for stricter restrictions and tougher penalties for violent customers.”

Delivering value

Looking to the year ahead, O’Brien says: “The immediate focus for Liquor Barons in 2024 is simple – continuing to make our members more profitable. We will continue driving our best-in-market marketing and merchandise programs to remain as WA’s premier liquor retail brand.”

One example is the Legit Value brand campaign, which took the previous Legit Locals campaign one step further by showcasing the value that Liquor Baron’s Legit Locals credentials offer its customers.

“In this interesting economic environment, West Aussie consumers are seeking out value. While we’ve got the major chains battling it out on price, as a 100 per cent WA owned and operated co-op, Liquor Barons offers our customers so much more than that.

We pride ourselves on providing them with real value, which is personal service, in-depth knowledge, a tailored range, convenience and support for local communities.

“We know that one size doesn’t fit all, and we recognise this individuality. Our business model is designed to support individual stores to service their local communities better, and a big focus will be to strengthen this model.

“We’re committed to running our Perth-based marketing and merchandise team, who have eyes on the ground here in WA where we can properly support West Australian businesses.”

Protecting communities

A major focus for Liquor Barons in 2023 was its continued support for responsible service of alcohol in the West Australian community, which O’Brien says will continue over the next 12 months.

“We understand that a small portion of the community has a problem with alcohol, and we work closely with LSA WA to make sure we can be part of the solution. We strongly support the continued trial and roll out of the banned drinkers register, spearheaded by LSA WA.”

This article originally appeared in the 2024 Leaders Forum issue of National Liquor News.

Deborah Jackson

Deb joined Intermedia in 2015 as Editor of National Liquor News and Deputy Editor of The Shout. Since then, she has also worked as the Editor of Beer & Brewer and the New Zealand title, World of Wine....

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