Tess Sharp, Store Manager at Dan Murphy’s Richmond, was named the 2023 Retail Drinks Australia Young Liquor Retailer of the Year at last week’s Retail Drinks Industry Awards.

Sharp, who says she was in complete shock when she heard her name called, was selected by the judges from a pool of 80 fellow nominees from around the country. She will now join the Retail Drinks Board as an observer for the next 12 months – an opportunity that she is very much looking forward to.

National Liquor News took the opportunity to catch up with Sharp this week, to find out what the recognition means to her, and how she thinks it will help to benefit her career.

NLN: Tess, tell us how you originally got into liquor retailing?

TS: In 2017, at the age of 24, I joined Dan Murphy’s as an Assistant Store Manager after working in the tourism industry for several years. It’s funny because I never saw myself working in the liquor industry, I started as a Customer Experience Manager while studying part-time and I didn’t even know that Chardonnay was a wine, let alone a grape variety.

However, something unexpected happened and I quickly developed a deep passion for our work and the entire industry. It opened a whole new world for me and since then, I have never looked back.

NLN: What do you enjoy the most about what you do?

TS: Hands down it is the people, whether it is our incredible team members or passionate customers, I love interacting with people. One of the best things about working at Richmond is that we are opposite the RMS centre, so we regularly have customers who come in to pick out that special bottle to celebrate with their family and friends after they were successful in obtaining their driver’s licence. It is great to be part of celebrating such a special milestone in someone’s life and that is what Endeavour is all about, creating a more sociable future, helping people get together, making memories and leaving a positive imprint.

NLN: How did it feel to be named Young Liquor Retailer of the Year?

TS: I was in complete shock when I heard my name called out and it is quite surreal seeing my face all over social media! However, in all seriousness, it is certainly a highlight in my career, and I feel incredibly honoured and humbled. But I would like to point out that although my name is on the award, there are many people behind the scenes who have contributed to my success. I would not have achieved this without my amazing Dan Murphy’s Richmond NSW team. The last two years working with them have been some of the most rewarding and fun times in my career. Plus, I am also incredibly lucky to have so many other people who have had such a big impact on my growth and development.

NLN: What do you think set you apart from the other nominees?

TS: This is a tough question because all the finalists are deserving candidates. If I had to guess, I would say it would be my passion for helping our local communities through our community-giving partnership with GIVIT. I have been the NSW/ACT State Lead for our connecting communities working group, which aims to give back more than we take since we have begun this initiative. I am really proud that since 2021, together we have raised more than $2 million for GIVIT and Richmond has contributed nearly $10,000 of that.

I am also a big advocate when it comes to training workshops around RSA obligations, ID25, Refusal of Service and equally as important, our social licence to operate. At the end of 2021, in conjunction with the L&D team I helped the build and launch of our ‘Social Responsibility Workshops’ and continued to be a facilitator. Since then, we have managed to have thousands of team members go through the sessions, which as a result has increased our ID25 mystery shop pass rate, but more importantly increased the confidence of our team members.

NLN: What opportunities do you hope will arise from this recognition?

TS: I would have to say it is definitely the opportunity to network with people and learn from some of the best industry leaders. What is incredible about winning this award is the opportunity to be an observer on the RDA board for the next 12 months. That in itself is an amazing opportunity and I know I will meet some incredible people.

NLN: What are you the most passionate about in your role at Dan Murphy’s?

TS: My answer to this question is very similar to what I enjoy most about what I do. I am passionate about the wellbeing and development of my team members and peers. I have been fortunate enough to be part of the leadership journey for several of my team members and both of my previous assistant store managers. One who has now been appointed to his very own store as a store manager and the other who is currently doing a store manager secondment at Richmond NSW. This makes me so proud and gives me so much happiness. I have a real sense of purpose every day I come to work, and you can’t beat that!

NLN: How did you overcome the challenges of stepping into the store manager position just as the pandemic hit?

TS: When the pandemic hit, my store manager at the time was asked to go to another store to support and I was asked to commence a relief in my home store. This was originally meant to be for three weeks…. Fast forward six months and I was knee deep in a role where I was constantly learning while there was a global pandemic! Reflecting however, it would have been one of the best things to happen to me to develop my resilience and ability to adapt to changing environments. In terms of overcoming the challenges, I relied heavily on my peers for support, and I tried to remember to be kind to myself. We were all operating in an unknown (and scary) environment, so our number one priority was to just be there and support each other.

NLN: What approaches do you take to give your store a unique offering and level of service?

TS: Dan Murphy’s Richmond NSW is known for our passion around local products and supporting our community. We work closely with our local suppliers to ensure our ranging is the best it can be, and we have frequent local tastings. The secret to offering exceptional service is to have passionate team members who are advocates and love sharing their latest picks with not only our customers but also the wider team. I am incredibly lucky to have that at Richmond, as customer and team discovery is the norm.

NLN: Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?

TS: Well, I have recently commenced a six-month secondment within the Endeavour Group People Team as a People Advisor in Team Services as this aligns with the studies I have (and still are) completing. This means my days are spent supporting and providing advice to store managers and leaders within the business from an EA, policy and procedure and low-level ER perspective. So, while I am not currently in stores, and don’t see myself as a Store Manager in five years’ time, I still very much want to be within a role where my passion around operations is combined with my passion in HR.

NLN: Is there anything else you would like to add?

TS: In 2022 I graduated from a Bachelor of Business (management) and Bachelor of Arts (psychology). I am currently just past halfway in completing my Masters in Business Admission with a major in HR.

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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