By James Atkinson
Despite a tough market, Australian Liquor Marketers (ALM) has reported a very strong twelve months of sales, which CEO Fergus Collins (pictured) has put down to improvements in the Metcash division's supplier relationships and better retailer compliance.
Metcash yesterday reported that ALM's like-for-like sales had increased 3.6 per cent over the year to $2.33 billion, while EBITA was up 15.9 per cent on a like-for-like basis to $34.9 million.
"The division maintained its position as Australia's second largest liquor retailer," Metcash said.
Collins told TheShout that sales through IBA stores increased by five per cent over the year after ALM won "the support of the suppliers to make us competitive finally".
"A lot of the big suppliers understood where we were trying to get to, that they needed to make us competitive in this marketplace while you had Coles and Woolworths gaining strength, that they needed to have a third channel," he said.
"A lot of them have stepped up to the mark and they've benefited from it."
Collins said consumers at IGA, Cellarbrations and The Bottle-O liquor stores had responded positively to IBA's offer of "really good everyday pricing" rather than a "massive high/low strategy".
"This idea of buying on promotional cycles is just a joke, because all that was happening was that the retailers were buying within the buy period and then not buying outside the buy period," he said.
"[Suppliers are] giving good promotional discounts every day and then giving us a pool of discounts to allocate to key price points at key times."
Collins said it had been important for IBA to be able to demonstrate strong retailer compliance with its offers.
"You've got to show to the suppliers that you're going to be compliant, you're going to execute the promotional program, and that way when they invest in that channel they're actually getting a return on it," he said.
"I won't let the group be weakened by retailers who 'take the piss'. If they don't execute the promotional program, we'll kick them out, otherwise you just weaken the whole offer."