Home' National Liquor News : NLN DEC 2016 Contents 58 | DECEMBER 2016 NATIONAL LIQUOR NEWS
KEVIN: I have been employed in the liquor
industry for the past 40 years mostly in retail and
merchandising positions and have worked at
both Coles and Woolworths liquor. I also owned
my own bottle shop for six years, but I sold it and
have been employed at the Lapstone Hotel for
nearly two years now. I have a unique perspective
on the industry and have a passion for wine. Every
year I learn more and more about the industry
and the hard working winemakers that put their
love into every vintage.
DAVID: I have been in the liquor industry for
28 years, since the age of 18. I have seen all
aspects of the trade from pubs, clubs, and retail
management and for the last five years have found
a home at Agnew Wines, distributor of Poole’s
Rock, Cockfighter’s Ghost and Audrey Wilkinson.
HOW ARE YOU FINIDNG THE
KEVIN: Liquor retailing is and has been extremely
competitive for as long as I can remember.
However, the past three to four years with the ever
expanding footprint of Coles and Woolworths and
to a smaller degree Aldi owned stores, margins are
being squeezed as we try keep our loyal customers
happy. Sometimes I think that the larger suppliers
are so tied into strict trading terms that there is
very little left in the cookie jar for us independents.
Suppliers sometimes forget that good independent
retailers keep the big box businesses honest and
without us in this market it will become like the
petrol and supermarket businesses dominated by
the major chains where they can control margins
and supplier profitability. To stay competitive in
such an aggressive market I would recommend
that an independent retailer join a banner group
and use their buying power to cater for your
customer’s needs. Each group has specific
differences but all I can say is don’t just look at
their glossy and slick presentations as some of
them say one thing but deliver another, look at how
they can actually help your bottom line. As a wise
man told me that the key is not how you sell, it’s
how it’s bought that gives you your store’s profit.
DAVID: It is such a challenging but positive
market at the moment and having a portfolio of
quality wines and pricing makes it a pleasure to
sell. On-premise trade is certainly picking up,
restaurants are looking to support their local
vineyards once again as the Hunter Valley is
providing some outstanding fruit across a wide
range of varietals.
WHAT PROMOTIONS OR
DEALS ARE WORKING FOR
YOU AT THE MOMENT?
KEVIN: I am seeing that customers are trading
up but drinking less. We sell local wines that are
not stocked by the majors as well as maintaining
competitive pricing on the top 20 mainstream
lines. We comply with our weekly banner group
specials as well as negotiated in-store specials
such as ‘two-for’ offers which seem to work well.
Good old-fashioned service by simply saying
‘hello’ when a customer enters the store and
‘goodbye’ when they leave is a simple point of
difference without costing any money.
DAVID: ‘Two-for’ deals really work well in the
current market as customers are buying quality
not quantity. The resurgence of Chardonnay,
Pinot Gris and Tempranillo over the past couple
of years has benefited the Australian wine regions
as the decline of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
has finally started. Tastings and staff training
gives great education to suppliers and staff and of
course the customers.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST
ABOUT WORKING WITH
KEVIN: We respect each other’s work experience
and work together to grow his brands and provide
that point of difference.
DAVID: I have known Kevin for a number of years
as we first met when I was Store Manager at BWS
Berowra (formally known as Berowra Cellars),
where I spent just on 10 years of my career. We
built a great working relationship from that time
on as we were reunited two years ago when he’d
taken over as Store Manager at the Lapstone Hotel.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH
KEVIN: As far as I am concerned the relationship
between a rep and myself is a mutual gain and is
to meet my customers’ needs. My time is valuable
and they must add value to the business.
DAVID: Trust in the working relationship goes
both ways. It is important to listen to the retailer
as to what is working for them, as no two stores
are the same.
WE TALK SHOP WITH KEVIN WILLIS THE MANAGER OF
LIQUOR STAX AT THE LAPSTONE HOTEL IN THE BLUE
MOUNTAINS AND DAVID DOUGLAS FROM AGNEW WINES.
Store Manager, Liquor Stax at the Lapstone Hotel, lower Blue Mountains, NSW
Senior Account Manager, Agnew Wines
Kevin Willis and David Douglas.
“MY CUSTOMERS MAKE MY DAY, I LOVE
MEETING THEIR NEEDS. WE ALSO SEEM
TO EITHER PLAY THE LOCAL MARRIAGE
COUNCILLOR OR JUST AN OPEN EAR TO
THEIR WORRIES OF THE WORLD,”
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