By Ian Neubauer

The President of the Liquor Stores Association of Victoria (LSAV) has confirmed the state body has split from the Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA), citing an increase in the national body’s fees.

“We are a recovering organisation that is getting its way back in terms of membership and funding,” said LSAV president David Kepper. “It has been hard in the past 10 years to keep up with the rising costs of ALSA membership. So for the moment we are going it alone and hope to come back to the table when we are in a stronger financial position.”

Kepper denied the split was linked to larger ideological issues. The ALSA represents the interest of all off-premise liquor merchants, while the LSAV changed its constitution last year and now represents only independent operators.

“It’s got nothing to do with that,” Kepper insisted. “The guys at ALSA know my position in terms of the chains. In the last three years, I have done a lot to form relationships with the chains and to have good communication. I have a comfortable and healthy relationship with them on the national level.”

ALSA chief executive Terry Mott confirmed the Victorian chapter had broken away. “The decision was made by Victoria to resign and we are hoping they will return,” he said. “But all the other states that are smaller in terms of membership and infrastructure have decided to remain a part of the ALSA. [Fees] don’t seem to be an issue for them.”

Mott said ALSA membership fees had risen only marginally but refused to disclose actual figures. “It was not a significant hike,” he said. “The membership for state associations has traditionally been very low and remains low — relatively speaking to the value they get for it.”

Mott added that the split would have no effect on ALSA’s ability to operate because the national body still has a very large membership base in Victoria. “ALSA still has a significantly larger membership in Victoria than the VLSA with our Coles, Woolworths and Master Grocers Association members,” he said. “We are still very well-represented in that state.

“We want to represent independents and chains on the same table and we do not get involved in political issues,” he said. “Every liquor store is in competition against each other, so we treat all of them in a likewise manner. Independents should focus on their strengths and not worry what competitors are doing. When they do this, they lose focus on their own business.”

The Shout Team

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

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