Last year was a period of change and growth for Australian Liquor Marketers (ALM), as acting CEO John Barakat told National Liquor News. Despite wider economic uncertainty, ALM’s half-year results to December 2023 showed a 2.4 per cent increase in liquor sales, with total sales reaching $2.5 billion.

In a post-Covid and value conscious world, shoppers are continuing to shop local, and with at home consumption has increased interest in value categories such as cask wine, or large format beer in mainstream and mid-strength.

“In a challenging market we continued to see strong performance, with growth in sales to retail customers more than offsetting the decline in sales to on-premise customers,” he said.

One major change over 2023 was the resignation of former CEO Chris Baddock, who stepped down from the role for health reasons.

“Chris is a fantastic leader and led from the front in championing successful independents. However, I’m pleased to share Kylie Wallbridge, our newly appointed Liquor CEO, will be officially starting in March 2024.

Kylie has already had a hugely successful career and is a proven business leader with a strongpassion for retail brands and partnerships – we are very much looking forward to her joiningthe team,” Barakat said.

Over the course of 2023, there were several upgrades across the ALM network, as Barakat outlines.

“We have invested in our ALM warehouse efficiencies and retail network through store and coolroom upgrades, loyalty programs, our owned and exclusive portfolio, shopper value programs as well as growing our on-premise share,” he said.

A major focus for Independent Brands Australia (IBA) and ALM is its Network of the Future strategy. Announced in 2023, this strategy seeks to better understand shopper behaviours to assist members in their growth plans and drive good retailing.

“By leveraging data and insights through basket scan, loyalty, e-commerce, strong brand health, and new platforms, we have a focus of generating consistent and sustainable growth for our members, attracting shoppers through their doors and online, as well as richer conversations with our supplier partners,” Barakat said.

Additionally, this strategy has a two speed approach, providing opportunities for retailers who wish to further the growth of their stores.

“We will reward our most disciplined retailers to raise the level of execution in-store, drive speed to market with innovation and more, while maintaining current programs for those retailers who are not ready or capable of taking that next step. We really want to challengeand reward our best retailers for stepping up their game and challenge the pack to become fitter,” Barakat said.

Rewarding loyalty

Amid the growing trend of personalisation, loyalty programs are of key importance to ALM and IBA, and they are looking to add Porters and IGA Liquor to the loyalty offering.

As well as enabling personalisation, data gathered through loyalty will inform analyses of shopper behaviours and purchase trends.

“We know personalisation will only become more important in coming years. Customers are more willing to share their data with a retailer if it results in discounts on their purchases or a better understanding of them as a shopper,” Barakat said.

The Shout Team

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