A new national industry body for liquor retailers, Retail Drinks Australia, will launch on 23 October under the leadership of Julie Ryan.

Ryan was appointed as the CEO of the Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA) following Terry Mott’s retirement in July, and at that time an independent review took place to determine the future direction of ALSA.

As a part of the review, it was determined that there was a clear need for change. The rationale was that the industry was in need of a body that would “take a leadership position to abandon unproductive misalignment, and significantly shift the historic approach towards advocacy”.

As such, Retail Drinks will formally replace ALSA as the national packaged liquor retail representative body from 1 January 2019.

Retail Drinks has already accepted membership from a significant number of the packaged liquor licences in Australia, and following the launch, most of ALSA’s state-based membership will also consolidate into Retail Drinks.

The newly formed industry body will represent all off-premise packaged liquor retailers in Australia, with the vision and purpose of enhancing its members’ freedom to retail responsibly through positive and pro-active advocacy, sharing of intelligence and increasing industry alignment.

This vision has been put in place with the aim of protecting both large and small businesses which are increasingly threatened by a complex web of regulation.

Ryan explains: “In an environment where regulatory change and increased red tape forms the largest risk to liquor retailers’ profitability and viability, there is a clear need for a single, unified and credible voice to represent all packaged liquor licences in Australia. Retail Drinks will identify the areas of industry consensus through its board of recognised industry leaders, and will then communicate and represent that consensus view with government, community and the broader liquor industry.”

With a background practicing in corporate law and more than seven years as an executive at Accolade, Ryan has taken a different approach with Retail Drinks. It will apply a corporatized structure to ensure maximum efficiency to free resources to be solely applied in the pursuit of benefits for liquor retailers.

“Advocacy in the liquor retail space needs to be proactive and agenda setting. Our members deserve an advocate that will maximise its resources for their benefit, and be willing to take a structured strategic approach to its operations. The time for industry to leverage the power of its areas of alignment is now.”

The maximising of resources for member benefit will lead to an increased value and level of services for members, complementing existing services that include legal advice and support, discounts and exclusive deals, professional development and a comprehensive suite of resources to assist members to run their businesses more efficiently and effectively.

The speed of transformation has been swift, with the corporatisation, re-branding and restructure to take it to the next level as a professional entity being delivered in less than three months from when Ryan commenced as ALSA CEO.

The transformation has also sparked renewed excitement among the industry, with some key board appointments and membership to be announced at the launch on 23 October.

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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