Home' National Liquor News : NLN MAY 2018 Contents 22 | MAY 2018 NATIONAL LIQUOR NEWS
Q WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO RELOCATE THE HAZELBROOK STORE?
We had been looking for a bigger space and the reason is two-fold. We
had wanted to refresh the old store – obviously IBA has a really good
refresh program to bring all of their stores up to a better level. Our old
store was tired and hadn’t had anything done to it in about 20 years,
so it needed it. The plan was to refresh it at the end of 2018 but when
the owners closed in this new venue it meant that we weren’t moving
far (Dan moved his store to the space next door). There were other
alternatives, but they were either around the corner or off the main drag
or a significant expense to buy a block of land to buy and develop our
own set of shops, which we weren’t quite ready or interested in doing just
yet. So it really became a no-brainer in the end but it just meant that we
had to bring the refresh forward and really push it along.
Q WHAT HAVE YOU DONE DIFFERENTLY IN THIS NEW SPACE?
We’ve given it a better flow and a little bit more space for people to move
around and browse, we’ve tried to focus on having opportunities to grow
our own avenues. While we still fit into the Bottle-O and Cellarbrations
key planograms we have also developed some space so we can continue
to grow the lines that we source ourselves because we do find that we do
about 50-50 of sales between the things we source and key retail. So while
I do still very much believe in the key retail program, this just seems to be
the way our business has gone so we have to foster that and develop it, so
with that in mind we’ve deliberately designed the store to be able to keep
our banner happy but also have that relationship with customers as well.
Q WHAT APPROACHES DO YOU TAKE TO GIVE YOUR STORE A
We try and differentiate ourselves against the chains in that we are locals,
if you come in here you’ve got quite a good chance of speaking to the
manager who is a local or alternatively the people who own the store,
who again live and are a part of the community.
We focus on trying to shop outside of the key core ranges of the
Bottle-O. The Bottle-O and Cellarbrations offer a great range that is well
promoted and certainly does have a large influence in drawing people
into our stores, but we’ve developed a reputation for having unique
things, such as preservative free and organically grown wines. So looking
WE TALK SHOP WITH DAN MACKIE, THE OWNER OF
THE BOTTLE-O HAZELBROOK AND CELLARBRATIONS
LAWSON IN NSW. MACKIE RELOCATED HIS HAZELBROOK
STORE TO THE VENUE NEXT DOOR LAST MONTH,
GIVING IT A FACELIFT AND LARGER FOOTPRINT.
for stuff that is a little bit different and not commonly promoted, like
small batch brewers and things like that.
The other thing that we have a real focus on is good customer service.
We all strongly believe that loyalty is not dead, it is customer service that
is dead. Often you walk into the chain stores and you don’t actually have
contact with anyone until you get to the checkout. For us, a part of our
mandate is that every customer gets greeted within 30 seconds of entering
the store, regardless of if you’ve got other customers at the counter or not,
they still need to be greeted. We find that even if you don’t know them and
you just say ‘G’day mate’ or whatever, that makes them feel welcome and it
encourages them to buy. So more people who walk through your door will
make a purchase rather than just browsing and leaving.
Q WITH YOUR STORES SO CLOSE TOGETHER GEOGRAPHICALLY
DO YOU FIND THEY COMPETE AGAINST EACH OTHER?
No, our customer bases are totally different. When we first opened the
Lawson store we basically just thought that they were two and a half
kilometres apart so we just photocopied the store at Hazelbrook and put
it into Lawson, and we added a few additional ranges that we wouldn’t
normally have room to keep at Hazelbrook, but in the first eight months
we deleted or removed around 180 lines that just didn’t work, mostly
wines – so it’s a totally different market in the wine game. The beers are
fairly generic in both stores although they do have a slightly stronger craft
market at Lawson. Hazelbrook is predominantly wine but we’re interested
to see if that changes now that we’ve refreshed the store and made it new.
We have already seen an upturn in trade, I didn’t expect it because we’re
a local trade but we’re getting about 12 per cent better turnover which is
amazing, and it’s actually held up for two weeks so far, so we’ll see what
happens as the shine starts to fall off and it just becomes the local Bottle-O
again, but we’ll take it while we can get it.
Q WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST ISSUES CURRENTLY FACING
I think the biggest issues at the moment are trying to get the headspace
working in the right direction where we’re not focusing on trying to take
on the chains too much. A lot of us are getting lost in that daily churn of
just putting beer on special or heavily discounting wines, and while that
has a place and you do need to do that to a point to show that you can be
competitive, I think we tend to overdo it a little bit at the moment and we’re
not focusing on areas where the chains can’t take us on, such as in small
batch boutique breweries or wineries and things like that which have a small
amount of product that they can distribute through a key range of stores and
then have promotional activities around it but without having to take on the
chains and having everyone race to be the lowest bottom as we call it.
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