Home' National Liquor News : NLN FEB 2016 Contents NATIONAL LIQUOR NEWS FEBRUARY 2016 | 85
RETAIL & WHOLESALE
CHAMBERS CELLARS CONTINUED
FOCUS IS ON STORES WITH A
GREAT RANGE, COMPETITIVE
OFFERS AND FRIENDLY,
INTERACTIVE AND HAPPY STAFF.
hat a year 2015 has been. It was
certainly a year of change and yes
this evolving world and industry
needs change, but are we changing
for change's sake or for the benefits of
I think 2015 will be a year many in the trade
refer back to over the next few years. We have
seen consolidation, consolidation and more
consolidation. Most of the bigger suppliers
have moved to a more national platform
retrenching staff and leaving huge gaps in their
field force and in key roles.
We have seen across all categories a huge
deterioration in the level of service in our stores
and in the key account personnel. The new
national platforms being implemented are being
pushed as a positive for the retailers. While I
don’t want to highlight any one company, there
are companies where we are seen at a national
level and their service to store has been top
notch. To some other suppliers we are only
a small state-based retailer to their business
and their reply to emails, meeting submission
deadlines, packaging deals and offers that suit
our business all ‘appear’ too much for them.
Many of the key account roles are being
replaced with new people who don’t have
the support, experience or understanding of
their own company let alone their customer’s
needs and many of the experienced personnel
have been moved on. I see the introduction of
telemarketing service support and removing
face to face contact with many stores as a huge
negative. For wine, it’s taking away the theatre:
there is no knowledge and passion being
used to educate staff. Yes, it might be very
professional and business-like but it’s making it
just about the economics and price.
“But it shouldn’t be just about price”
suppliers comment – why is it then that
their approach to their customer is based on
cost cutting, scaling of store visits based on
sales, and promotional submissions are only
marketing department tasting notes and a price.
The supplier is leading the discussion and it’s
only about price.
Now if we are experiencing this, what is
happening to all the other independent groups?
To me, it looks like big business is happy to
ignore this sector which represents more than
30 per cent of the market.
There has been a win for the smaller
suppliers and family-owned wineries who are
really taking up this void in the market. They
do have the story, theatre and passion and there
is real value in their brands.
We grew to 37 stores with more new stores
planned, and the renovations are complete at
Avalon. Our continued focus on stores with
a great range, competitive offers and most
importantly friendly, interactive and happy
staff has resulted with six stores in the top 50
at the LSA Liquor Store of the Year awards.
This award category comprises of thousands
of liquor stores across NSW, so to have six
in the top 50 is a great achievement and
recognition for the store managers and their
teams. However, we still have areas that can be
improved and in 2016, we will be developing
these and driving improved customer
satisfaction in our stores. Our new website has
been undergoing trialling at present and this is
focused on engaging and connecting the store
and online customers better.
There is also a new POS system being trialled
and while this will improve staff and customer
interactions at the counter, it really will cut the
amount of double handling and procedures,
freeing up staff and resulting in greater customer
interaction and improved reporting. With a wide
demographic customer base throughout the
Sydney metro area, reporting is vital, identifying
the early signs of changing and emerging
trends. This is an aspect really necessary when
meeting with suppliers as many don’t have any
visibility until up to six weeks later. By then the
marketing plan is already locked away for the
next few weeks so they react with information
two to three months late.
Premiumisation throughout 2015 was
strong. Customers are reacting positively with
the better quality. While the authorities focus
on policy limiting the negative aspects of
alcohol, focusing on more premium products
is being linked to pleasurable experiences. We
are focused on the occasion rather than the
price and volume. While suppliers are pushing
premiumisation they still have budgets to hit
and bulk cheaper products make up a large
portion of their budgets and are easier for
them to sell – again their focus on price.
Having an interesting range is ongoing,
but in line with premiumisation of categories,
we have more focus on lifting the average
sale price per unit sold. Imports like Malbec
and Rioja are selling well along with
quality Rosé’s. While sub $12 Marlborough
Sauvignon Blanc is still a huge volume
mover, the $20+ brands are getting great
traction. This is across all varietals and has
allowed a lot more in-store promotional
activity such as the two for $30 promotion. In
many instances we are selling the same volume
at $2 more but finding the upsell to two for
$40 an easier transition with the focus on the
quality and region.
SUPPLIERS SELLING DIRECT
This is not new but there are a few suppliers
selling at cheaper than market promotional
pricing so much so that we are making eight
per cent gross profit (GP) or less matching
their pricing. You’re welcome to operate your
business how you see fit, and Chambers will
operate how we choose, but we will not be
supporting these suppliers and brands.
There are suppliers focusing on quality,
awards, their story and brand online and are
offering their wines at the same price they
submit as their product RRP or higher. It’s
great to see and support their message to
market about their brand and generate GP
from their products.
We are looking forward to 2016. There has
been some positive news about employment,
interest rates and house prices for a while now
so hopefully there is some stability to come.
Competition will be tough but we are looking
forward to these challenges.
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