While other companies expanded their portfolios in 2018, last year saw Edgemill Group bring a whole new portfolio into play, going from a “predominately spirits based business into a spirits and wine business”.

Edgemill Group enjoyed double digit growth last year and launched BeGin Pink Gin and Old #15 ‘Bacon’ Bourbon, and David Hounsome, the National Sales and Marketing Manager, is excited about increasing the acreage of Edgemill vineyards and to launch Black Bart Spiced Rum. He says that these new launches have tapped into the continuing trend of people “drinking less but better”.

“Black Bart Spiced Rum is a small batch hand crafted spiced rum which signals our intent to supply excellent quality spirits that offer exceptional value in the higher value end of the market. Consumers are prepared to experiment and seek out innovative and different products. The consumer enjoys the ‘discovery’ of new products.

“All in all, 2018 was a fantastic year with double digit growth and the ‘independents first’ motto for which we stand finally started paying off and delivering the kind of results our independent retail partners deserve.”

Edgemill’s relationship with independent liquor partners remains the business’ cornerstone and Hounsome believes that suppliers and retailers working more closely together is the greatest opportunity for 2019.

“I believe the independent retailer should support suppliers who support them exclusively, and they are few and far between in the spirits category. The ‘indies’ should not accept second or even third best from suppliers. We are committed to their sustainable future and we believe by offering good quality, value for money products along with innovation, the independent liquor retailer can compete and flourish in the future and in a market where they can co-exist on their own merits.

“Edgemill’s growth is directly related to the enthusiasm and engagement of our independent retail partners, so we will be seeking their support for Black Bart Spiced Rum and any other NPD we have planned for 2019. Their support fuels our NPD research and development and our trading model is simple – ‘Best price on a single case’ – so we can get on with the very real job of creating the point of difference they so badly need to compete effectively.”

Hounsome believes that, as a family business, Edgemill has better opportunities to “innovate and operate with scale and pace” with everyone “deeply involved in every aspect of the business”, something which is critical when it comes to improving the working relationship between retailers and suppliers to drive growth.

“I think it is very important for each to have a sound understanding of their respective businesses and to consider medium and long term strategies. All too often there is a short-term view and the future is left to take care of itself, which leaves the way clear for more planned businesses to beat them to the punch.

“Our independent retailers are slowly learning that their future lies in a portfolio that differs from the national chains. This has been done with success in the wine category but the spirits category is still flooded with large international equity brands and they have been slow on the uptake for Australian-made.”

As well as working together to create strong working relationships and offers that will appeal to consumers’ tastes for quality and experimentation, Hounsome believes that retailers and suppliers across the board need to come together and shout louder in 2019 to combat the legislative challenges that lie ahead.

“The liquor industry needs to become far more vocal and challenge the current taxation rules with regards alcohol in this country. The current taxes penalise everyone and do little to educate responsible consumption. Taxation seems to be more punitive and revenue raising rather than strategic and is not used for education and responsible sales and marketing programs.”

This article was written for the 2019 National Liquor News Annual Industry Leaders Forum published in February.

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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