Speaking to the 2019 National Liquor News Leaders Forum, Liquor Marketing Group CEO, Gavin Saunders said LMG aims to continue with further retail and e-commerce improvements, as well as supporting its members with further innovation in 2019.

NLN: How was 2018 for LMG? What were the highlights and challenges?

GS: Liquor Marketing Group (LMG) has enjoyed a truly exceptional 2018 calendar year which has seen strong growth along with recognition by the industry and shoppers during the year.

Highlights for the year included being awarded the Retail Group of the Year at the Australian Liquor Industry Awards (ALIA) and being recognised by Shopper Tracker (survey of liquor shoppers) as the leading convenience liquor retailer for price, premium products, innovation, and as the only liquor retailer to improve overall customer satisfaction. These results recognise the health and appeal of the Bottlemart, Sip’n Save and Harry Brown brands.

However, the absolute focus and highlight for the year was achieving significant growth for our members, with growth achieved in each month of 2018. The December 2018 quarter and month recorded the highest volumes on record for LMG with total national growth for the quarter approximately nine per cent (like for like also approximately six per cent).

What are the key strengths of LMG?

Without a doubt, LMG’s key strengths are our brands, marketing programs, member support systems and teams along with our committed national membership base.

LMG has the benefit of being an organisation that is owned, governed and operated solely for the benefit of our members. This allows us to invest in our programs with the goal of providing the best trading performance for each member without having to manage outside shareholders expectations.

This investment in our go-to-market plans has driven the results achieved in 2018, which has an enduring benefit for the brand health and consumer appeal of the Bottlemart and Sip’n Save brands.

What will be the main focus for LMG in 2019?

The focus for 2019 will be further enhancing the investment in go-to-market plans and momentum of 2018 along with complementing these programs with the e-commerce platform for Bottlemart and Sip’n Save members. This platform offers our retailers the opportunity to engage their customers through the app/online and provide the convenience of delivery or click and collect.

To what do you attribute LMG’s growth and do you expect it to continue into 2019?

LMG achieved record growth across each major category and state for the 2018 year, which given market challenges across some categories (e.g. CDS) and states, is a significant achievement.

The results being achieved for each calendar month, state and category as well as significant like-for-like growth, highlights the impact of the LMG marketing and retail support programs. This support and health of the Bottlemart and Sip’n Save brands will be enhanced further in 2019, therefore there is no reason to consider that 2019 will provide anything less than a continuation of the extraordinary performance achieved throughout 2018.

How successful has the one-hour delivery trial been and how is the rollout progressing?

The Bottlemart and Sip’n Save app and online with delivery integration was launched in August 2018. Results to date have been encouraging with 25 stores fully integrated and we have plans for another 100+ stores to be set up in first half of 2019.

Initial results are impressive with an average basket size 73 per cent greater than in-store sales and approximately 45 per cent of customers re-ordering through the app. The real game changer for this route to market will be integration of social media click through for customers to buy from their local Bottlemart or Sip’n Save which will be enabled in 2019 with the roll out of the next tranche of stores.

E-commerce provides LMG retailers the opportunity to continue to compete effectively through their stores, however adds the point of difference of app integration, online and delivery for the next level of convenience for their customers.

What innovation can we expect to see from LMG in 2019?

Along with further retail improvements and e-commerce, LMG will continue to support its members with innovation during 2019. A focus for the coming year is providing our retailers greater access and deeper insight to their data and trading information with the benefit of LMG analytics.

The provision of data and analysis provides our retailers the opportunity to identify areas or performance and opportunities for their retail versus benchmark and therefore improve profitability.

How do you see the retail liquor landscape evolving into 2019?

I expect that the year ahead will provide a continuation of the trends seen to date, although at a much faster pace. Retailers who have not already done so, will initiate their investment in online and focus on premiumisation.

Our Bottlemart, Sip’n Save and Harry Brown retailers are in a strong position to meet these retail trends with programs and systems already in the market.

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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