Home' National Liquor News : NLN MAR 2016 Contents 50 | MARCH 2016 NATIONAL LIQUOR NEWS
MEL: This industry has been an evolving part
of my life for so many years now, starting out
running bars and working stock control, to
managing cafes and bars around Brisbane and
the Gold Coast. All of it pointed to my love of
product and entering the retail side and working
my way up.
LUKE: Prior to joining i2i, I worked for Campbell-
Arnotts and Snackbrands Australia covering many
roles including representative, territory manager
and wholesale manager in the impulse channel.
HOW ARE YOU FINDING THE
MEL: I find it so cult driven right now. Within our
store, we are seeing a climb in interest for a more
premium product, particularly with spirits and craft
beer. I also find the Brisbane consumer scene is
growing in knowledge and broadening their tastes,
which makes for an interesting time for us.
LUKE: Although premiumisation is not new
to the industry, the i2i portfolio has seen good
growth in the last few years as it fits perfectly with
what consumers are now looking for; a premium
product. It is rewarding to know all the hard work
with brand education and tasting provided years
ago is now paying off.
WHAT DEALS OR PROMO-
TIONS ARE WORKING FOR
YOU AT THE MOMENT?
MEL: Always gift with purchase; there is nothing
stronger than a mixer or glassware to convince
consumers. We also find that educational
evenings, much like our in-store tastings and
events, provide the consumer with a story
while they taste. This helps to capture a better
understanding and enjoyment, which in turn
translates into sales.
LUKE: Lots of different and unique things have
worked for us, and gift with purchase (GWP) is
one of them. We have run a few of these recently
across a number of categories, with glassware
being the most successful; the consumer always
has a sense of instant gratification when they walk
out the door with a little extra. Consumer trainings
such as single malt and rum masterclasses
provide good brand exposure and a good point of
difference for Stewarts.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST
ABOUT THE JOB?
MEL: I love the people within the industry and
the diverse styles of education. We have to be
one of the luckiest industries on the planet (albeit
for our poorly fed pockets). There are so many
experiences to be had and shared from bottle
and region, to food and wine matching. It also
provides opportunities to drink some of the most
prestigious beverages in the world. There is so
much to love and share, whether that is new and
upcoming styles or trends or romancing over the
history of a product.
LUKE: I can’t split it between the people and
the brands. The industry is filled with an eclectic
mix of people who have all been drawn together
by this passion of alcohol. I have been fortunate
enough to build relationships with many of
these people, learn from them and apply their
experiences to my trade. We have also been
blessed with an amazing portfolio, one that is still
being discovered. I don’t think there is a better
feeling than having someone try a brand for the
first time and see their face light up, questioning
why they have never tried it before or saying how
good it is. I get great pleasure in bringing these
brands to the people.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT
MEL: It is always great working with someone that
has an understanding of this climactic industry.
Luke has that understanding and is passionate at
communicating and imparting knowledge of his
LUKE: Stewarts Wines was the first retailer in
Queensland to sell the i2i single malt range, so
I have a long-standing relationship with Mel. It’s
great working with a person who is knowledgeable
and passionate about the industry. This allows us
to work constructively together to really deliver for
the end consumer.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH
MEL: With an open mind. Learning from each
other by listening and communicating needs and
ideas that enable our working relationship to move
forward in a way that is current and beneficial to
our customers and store values.
LUKE: I approach all relationships with respect,
understanding and passion. There is a good
chance that if they are managing a store, they
have a great understanding of its operations and
its target market. Therefore, I like to take the time
to listen to their needs and find viable solutions
that can deliver them a point of difference and
provide longevity in relationship that is beneficial
for both parties. I love the brands and company
I represent and I want each customer to feel this
passion and know that I will work closely with
them to ensure the consumer feels it too.
TALK SHOP WITH MEL HOLMES FROM STEWARTS WINE CO.
IN BRISBANE AND LUKE FROST FROM ISLAND2ISLAND.
Store manager and crafty buyer for Stewarts Wine Co.
Area manager for island2island (i2i) Queensland
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