By Andy Young
Iconic South Australian brand, Sip’n Save (SNS) is a hugely successful liquor retailing story, with 40 years under its belt, plus the strongest awareness and advocacy of any independent retail brand within its catchment.
The group also has the largest market share of any single independent retail brand within state, and with that kind of resume it is no wonder the group is celebrating its 40th birthday this year.
SNS Chairman, Tony Hurley, whose family have been part of the group since it was formed, explained where the group originated and why he feels it has been so successful over its four decades.
“Originally it was the combination of two family-run buying groups. One was called Bar-Gains and one was called Red, White and Amber. Then with the backing of the AHA SA the group formed to a new group called Sip’n Save, and that was 40 years ago.
“Since then there have been a few logo changes, but we’ve never changed the name and I’m not sure there’s another group in South Australia that is 40 years old.”
In terms of why it has been successful, Hurley added: “Good steady leadership is definitely a factor. Over the 40 years, Sip’n Save has had only four Chairpersons and two General Managers. Simon Rowe is only the second General Manager in the group’s 40 year history and that helps. It was led by Mike Shelley for 34 years and Simon for the last six years, so good sound leadership is key.
“We also look at our local market and make sure we are relevant to those; but very good and strong membership is what SNS is all about. SNS likes to makes sure the members are happy, and if the members are happy then you have a really strong membership base.”
Another key part in the history of SNS came in 2005 when the group merged with Liquor Marketing Group (LMG). Rowe, who is General Manager SA & NT for LMG says that having a national perspective, while keeping Sip’n Save’s strong South Australian focus and feel has been key.
“The national buying power opportunities is definitely a factor for success for Sip’n Save,” Rowe said. “In addition there is a lot more data, insights and technology, along with a structured approach and more effective operating systems nowadays compared to what we had.
“I started a year and a half before we started with LMG and there has been significant changes in that time, but access to discounts and buying prices is significantly better now.”
He added: “The LMG approach is very good at understanding there are different nuances within the various states. LMG has the benefits of being a national organisation but they understand what needs to be done to meet the shopper needs at a state level, including an understanding that different products sell in different areas. We have a really good representation of state products within the Sip’n Save program as this meets the needs of our shoppers.”
LMG and Sip’n Save are both not-for-profit organisation with their primary purpose being to operate for the benefit of their membership. Both groups are owned and governed by members and operated solely for the benefit of its membership. This alignment and focus were one of the primary drivers of the success of the merger of the two groups back in 2005 and remains a key strength today. There are currently 110 venues operating under Sip’n Save branding and they represent approximately 23 per cent of the South Australian market.
SNS will celebrate its 40th birthday In May with activity and activations giving its shoppers the chance to participate. SNS will commemorate the milestone with another iconic South Australian brand, West End Draught, which has brought out a special retro pack with acknowledgement of 40 years’ operating side by side in the South Australian market.
Also on offer is the chance for a shopper to win a 40 year old Glenfiddich, valued at $4,900. The 40th birthday promotion will include an additional catalogue, out of home advertising, store theming and activations for shoppers which champion other iconic South Australian products and brands. LMG CEO Gavin Saunders, said the group plans to continue its support and investment in SNS to help secure its future.
“Given the strong performance, continued focus of the group on members and investment to promote South Australia’s leading liquor brand, we expect that the next 40 years will deliver further success for Sip’n Save and all its members,” he said.
And with Hurley saying, “with all the market research we have done, we believe there is no other independent group in Australia that has got the market share or the recognition that we have got in South Australia” you can understand why LMG and Sip’n Save members wish to celebrate the milestone, while continuing to grow the iconic SA brand in the future.