By James Atkinson

Licensed importers would do well to focus on selling their own products rather than trying to discredit their competitors, according to Michael Kollaras (pictured), who has spoken out against critics of parallel importers.

Kollaras, group general manager of Kollaras Group, one of Australia's biggest parallel importers of liquor, was responding to this month's coverage on TheShout of a recent tasting by wine critic Huon Hooke comparing parallel imported Champagne to that brought in by the licensed Australian wholesaler.

Kollaras told TheShout that a one-off tasting of two Champagnes was completely inadequate to draw any conclusions when there are so many other variables that could affect product quality.

"Hooke himself has suggested it's hardly scientific and he said no conclusions can be drawn," Kollaras said.

"Interestingly enough, Hooke in the Sydney Morning Herald also rated the parallel stock at 87 points. If you go back and look at his own scoring criteria that rates it as a bronze medal!"

Kollaras said Hooke himself also conceded that: "One of the reasons staleness can occur is when Champagne may have been lying around on a shop shelf for too long, or if a cork has not done its job properly".

"Besides the fact that they're in no position to be making assumptions, when they have no idea on who, how or where stock is coming from, and how it's stored or transported, they themselves need to stop trying to justify the poor quality product tastings, by way of assuming that it's been handled incorrectly," Kollaras said.

Even if licensed importers are using air conditioned containers as they claim, Kollaras argued that their products will inevitably be transported and stored by retailers in non-refrigerated environments on arrival in Australia.

"This would mean it is subject to extreme fluctuations in temperature, that one would assume would cause more damage, than that of a product maintained in ambient temperature throughout," he said.

"If it was refrigerated from point A to the consumer all the way through, then you could understand [their claims].

"But unless you're going to personally deliver it to my home when I've got my dinner guests there, you're kidding yourself."

Parallel is here to stay: Kollaras

Kollaras reminded licensed importers that his company has been in business for more than 50 years and has been importing some of their brands for longer than they have.

"As a business, over the years we've been offered numerous agencies on brands, leading Champagnes included, which we've knocked back, due to the fact that the brand owners want more for their product than it's actually worth on the global market," he said.

"Why should Australia be disadvantaged?"

Kollaras said his ability to offer Champagne to the trade at unprecedentedly low prices is a testament to Federal legislative amendments in 1997 and 2003 permitting parallel importation of copyright-protected goods.

"That ultimately made products more affordable and is more than likely the instigator of the significant growth of the Champagne category and many other categories within this country today," he said.

Kollaras said it's time official importers realised that parallel importers are here to stay.

"Instead of bagging them and the products that they represent, which is to the detriment of their own brand, maybe what they should be doing is knuckling down and doing what the brand owners want them to do – sell product."

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

Join the Conversation


  1. One thing that is forgotten here, is that if local distributors don’t sell any of their own stock, then there is no trading funds/terms, no marketing funds to attract/communicate to consumers, bonus deals for retailers, promotions for retailers, consumer promotions to attract consumers, tasting budgets to sample the products, sales jobs etc etc, as the money goes to another countries kitty. Also the government doesn’t care either as they get their revenue as it is a alc/vol tax, so they don’t care where it comes from.

    It is also known that Woolworths has their own department in parallel importing.

    It is like the music industry and pirating – if everyone does, then the artist wont record anymore and therefore there will be no music for anyone.

    Is this what big global brands want? Someone like Diegeo, Pernod, CCA needs to take a stance against them all!

    Build strong brands for the future to ensure that the consumer, the retailer, the supplier and the distribution network all see value and money in selling products.

    PS. That would mean no more junkets, “aka conferences” to glamorous locations, events, Melbourne Cup, Golf Days and so on!

  2. I’ve always found it hard to understand how people like Michael with the experience and knowledge they have, haven’t had more influence in government regulation of industries in which they contribute so much.

  3. When I go overseas and see Australian wines selling cheaper than we can buy them from the wholesalers in Australia, I know that their is too much taxing and profits going on between the chain of companies that gets that bottle to my shelf. If I can get Yellowtail for the equivalent of $6.00 in China, tell me why it costs me over $6 to buy, to then sell it for $9, when they ship in 1000s of kilometres further, handle it several more times, and still sell it cheaper. And that not getting me started on Aussie beers in Thailand…. Bring on Parallell inporters and i hope it helps the brands like Diageo realise they cant hold bottleshops over a barrell. Id love if someone could parallell import the old cans of Bundy RTD, back when you could tell each can apart form the other…..

  4. I am a customer of Kollaras and they save me heaps of money, i am getting the same products as i would off the ‘official distributor’, who haven’t visited me for YEARS, and can actually compete on price and still provide myself with an income.
    Any independent should be talking to Kollaras, they are keeping the market honest.

  5. I too am a customer of Kollaras. Theyre here to help the independents. Both my venues on and off premise have had no issues what so ever. I see there rep down here more than the big company reps and when i do see the big company reps all they do is bag Kollaras and other parallels but then turn around and try to sell me the same stock at a higher cost. Im happy knowing Im helping an aussie company with aussie staff. I have got the same prices as the chains and offer or better their specials thanks to kollaras.

  6. good to see the official distributors are starting to fell the same heat as us smaller bottle shop owners have been felling for years,if i continued to by of them my doors would be closed now,looks like things aren’t going to plan for woolies and coles because as smaller retailers have survived their price war and now there puting pressure on the suppliers to have parallel supply shut down.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *