By Andy Young
Woolworths has recorded a $1.3bn profit for the first half of the 2015 financial year, declaring its liquor business "performed well" over that six months.
The supermarket giant's food and liquor sales were up 3.4 per cent to $22.2bn on last year and net profit, after tax, was up 4.7 per cent.
CEO Grant O'Brien said: "Liquor continues to perform well and is the clear market leader across its formats on price, offer and convenience."
He added that the Woolworths liquor business is "the best example of winning the hearts, minds and wallets of consumers in Australian retail."
In its statement to the ASX, Woolworths reported: "Liquor continues to perform well across all three formats, Dan Murphy's, BWS and The Wine Quarter. Total liquor sales for the half-year (including ALH Group on premise liquor sales) of $4.2bn represent an increase of four per cent on the previous year."
October saw the sale and leaseback of 54 freehold hotel sites and over the half-year hotel sales were down 0.8% per cent to $782m. O'Brien put this slight fall down to the impact of the Victorian gaming tax.
In a media call O'Brien told TheShout that the future of the hotel business was "very strong" and that he was "very confident in that side of the business". He admitted that the hotel business was "not buoyant" but said that by the end of the financial year he expected to see a change in these results and after taking out the impact of the gaming tax "earnings before interest and tax were in line with last year".
Speaking of?the acquisition of Summergate Fine Wine and Spirits, a leading distributor in China, Brad Banducci, the managing director of Australian food and liquor, told TheShout: "China is and will continue to be a material market for the wine industry. Although this has tapered over the last two years with austerity, Chinese consumers are still drinking wine.
"Summergate is primarily a distributor in on-premise, which is where most wine is consumed in China. So this along with the two retail stores represents a nice, cautious toe hold into that market for Woolworths."
Woolworths also announced on Friday morning changes to its food and liquor leadership team, following the resignation of managing director Tjeed Jegen. Banducci has been made managing director of Australian food and liquor and will continue to have responsibility for the Woolworths Liquor Group until a new appointment has been made. Martin Smith, the general manager of Dan Murphy's, will provide added support to Banducci, in his new role as director of the Woolworths Liquor Group.
By James Atkinson
Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) has reported net sales revenue growth of 6.2 per cent and EBITS of $85.2 million for the six months ended 31 December 2014.
CEO Mike Clarke this morning said the result represented 77.5 per cent growth on the prior period, which was in line with expectations.?
He said the result was achieved despite the distraction caused by the two private equity proposals during the first quarter.
"While the first half of fiscal 2015 included the benefit of the successful transition of the Penfolds release date, we have also progressed with our overarching strategic initiatives to reset the business," Clarke said.
"While we are at the start of our transition from being an order-taking, agricultural company to a brand-led marketing organisation, the progress we have made to date and the results achieved by the team demonstrate that TWE is starting to address fixing the core of the business and is being set up for sustainable, future success."
Net sales revenue for the half was $882.7 million, up 6.2 per cent on a constant currency basis, with ANZ, Americas and Asia reporting solid growth.
TWE said the transition of the Penfolds release date from March and May to a single date in October was an outstanding success, both from a marketing and execution perspective.
Clarke said: "Supporting the 2015 Penfolds release was the 'Numbers Can Be Extraordinary' marketing campaign together with the Penfolds wine cabinet promotion in Australia."
"Not only have these initiatives been some of the most successful campaigns in the brand?s history, with the wine cabinet promotion now being launched in several countries around the world, they demonstrate a renewed confidence and commitment within our business to execute campaigns of this magnitude, supported by a significant step-up in consumer marketing investment."
Clarke said TWE was now in a strong position to capitalise on the outstanding wines available for sale from the 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 vintages.?
"However I, together with my management team, remain committed to taking a long-term view and will continue to pursue profitable growth opportunities and make the necessary investments in brands and key growth markets in order to build our sales and marketing reach."
By Triana O'Keefe, editor Australian Hotelier
In what is the group?s largest acquisition to date, Redcape Hotel Group has acquired the Crown Hotel Revesby for over $30 million.
The campaign was managed by Jones Lang LaSalle?s John Musca and is due to settle in a few weeks.
The well-established hotel currently boasts Top 20 Gaming venue status, modern sports bar and traditional Irish offering.
The acquisition follows an active year for Redcape in 2014, with the group adding Eastwood?s Landmark Hotel to its portfolio, together with plans to expand its nearby venue Eastwood Hotel.
Redcape CEO John Russell recently told Australian Hotelier the group was strongly focused on "portfolio enhancement".
?We?ve maintained a keen interest in adding to our portfolio, albeit selectively with a focus on acquiring assets where our expertise can be applied to unlock tangible value,? he said.
For the full interview with John Russell, see the? 2015 Leaders Forum edition of Australian Hotelier.
By Amy Looker, editor - National Liquor News
Bottlemart has teamed up with beer label XXXX in a promotion that will see the retailer rebranded as XXXXmart.
Launched on Wednesday, the XXXX takeover of 400 Bottlemart stores nationwide will run for one month alongside an integrated marketing campaign including TV, radio, press, catalogue, online and social media executions.
According to Liquor Marketing Group?s general manager, Damien Page, the campaign is a new and exciting way to showcase major liquor brands, with more key national brands scheduled to ?takeover? the Bottlemart banner later this year.?
?During this campaign, XXXX is the hero to this fully integrated national promotion with mass media communications and the opportunity to rebrand our stores and take our promotional activity to the next level,? said Page.
?Both Bottlemart and XXXX consumers will reap the benefits of a bigger, better and more targeted promotion from a brand they love.?
Developed for Bottlemart by M&C Saatchi, the campaign is scheduled to run until late March.
By Stefanie Collins, editor bars&clubs
Agave producers and professionals from around the world will converge on Sydney for the inaugural Agave Love conference on March 22 and 23.
The event will comprise a series of masterclasses, tasting sessions, mixology sessions, and talks presented by some of the world?s leading experts on tequila, mescal and lesser-known agave-based spirits. T
The events are being held across seven bars ? most in a 250 metre radius ? including The Cliff Dive, Shady Pines, and Hello Sailor. They are expected to attract over 2000 consumers, bar professionals and liquor industry members.?
The brainchild of Australian tequila pioneer Phillip Bayly, owner of Sydney?s iconic (now closed) tequila bar Café Pacifico. He says the idea of the conference is to educate consumers and trade on the rich cultural history of agave spirits including tequila, mezcal and other spirits like Raicilla and Sotol.?
?Agave Love is an opportunity to spread my love and passion for all things agave, a plant that dates back some 12 million years and has a history as an alcoholic beverage that dates back to pre-Columbian times,? he says. ?This is about category not brand, with a focus on educating lovers of Agave spirits and introducing it to people who have either never tried it or have had bad experiences.?
Speakers at the event include Phil Ward from the legendary Mayahuel bar in NYC and official tequila ambassadors Julio Bermejo and Tomas Estes (inventor of the Tommy?s Margarita). Other sessions will delve into the history of agave, different tequila styles, and in depth discussion on the subject of mezcal.
The appropriately named Agave Central will be set in the Old Cell Block building at the National Art School of Sydney on Sunday 22nd March. The consumer exhibition and information hub for the conference, it will be an opportunity for both consumers and trade to sample over 60 tequilas and mezcals and talk with brand distributors and agencies.
By Andy Young
This year's judging panel for the Australian National final of the Bacardi Legacy competition has been announced.
Barcadi's global brand manager Enrique Comas will be joined on the 2015 panel by bartender and former owner of Sydney's Cafe Pacifico, Phil Bayly?(pictured left) and the 2014 National Legacy winner, Fred Siggins (pictured below right).
Comas is the son of a Bacardi master blender and a sixth generation Bacardi family member, while Bayly, who holds the Southern Hemisphere's only "Distintivo T" award, is known as one of Australia's leading authorities on tequila.?The third judge on the panel, Siggins, won last year's national title with his "Empire of Dreams" cocktail, which featured whole espresso beans and was described by its creator as a "cultural collision in a glass."
Bacardi Lion's head of marketing, Kristie Asciak, said: "We're both proud and excited to have these bartending legends judge the national final. For them, it will be about finding the next addition to the Legacy story and a contender to stand alongside the classics we all know so well."
From now until the final is held on March 3, Siggins will be upping his Bacardi collaboration at Black Pearl, the Melbourne bar where he is bartender. Black Pearl has created an all Bacardi cocktail list, featuring five Black Pearl inspired cocktails alongside five Bacardi classics.
Tash Conte, owner of Black Pearl, said of the collaboration: "Over the past 13 years, we have been working relentlessly to create premium cocktails and that's achieved by working with the best.
"Bacardi has a heritage we're proud to align with, particularly given our shared value of family; one that is integral to how we work at the Pearl."
This year's Bacardi Legacy competition will take place across 36 countries with the Australian national final taking place at Melbourne's Cuban bar El Coco on 3 March.
By Andy Young
Gage Roads Brewing Company has confirmed that Chris Baddock has joined the company as a non-executive director.
Baddock, a former managing director of Lion Australia's Fine Wine Partners business, was recently appointed general manager of Pinnacle Drinks, which is wholly owned by the Woolworths Liquor Group. Woolworths also has a 25 per cent?stake in Gage Roads Brewing.
The Gage Roads board said it welcomes Baddock to the company and, "appreciates his extensive experience in sales and brand management in the beer and liquor industry."
Current non-executive director Brad Banducci will continue to support Gage Roads in the role of alternate director to Baddock.
The brewer also announced that its rolling supply agreement with Woolworths, which contains an annual commitment of one million cases, has been extended.
In an announcement to the ASX, Gage Roads said: "Woolworths has taken up the maximum allowable extension under the agreement to extend the term for a further two years from 30 June 2015 to 30 June 2017."
The brewer added that it "anticipates" the agreement will be "reviewed and extended" towards the end of June 2017.
John Hoedemaker, managing director at Gage Roads, said: "The company values its continuing role in the support of Pinnacle Drinks' exclusive brands strategy for Woolworths. The extension of this agreement is a major step towards achieving Gage Roads' long-term goals and earnings growth for shareholders."
By Triana O'Keefe, editor Australian Hotelier
A name change sees the remodelled Bayview Tavern now trading as the Bayview Hotel. The brand has been reworked to modernise its appeal as the renovation has created a fresh personality and the overall offering is more broadly appealing.
The hotel, located at the heart of the Gladesville shopping centre, Sydney, has long been a gathering place for local and business people alike.
?The premises hadn?t really been touched since 2007 so a renovation was on the cards anyway,? said owner James Hannon.
?From a marketing point of view, we were conscious of how the new look would benefit from a fresh identity to broaden the appeal to local residents,? he said.
However, there was a more significant reason for the recent makeover: the owners were keen for the hotel to appeal equally to both sexes.
?The hotel was a little dark and enclosed and it didn?t really attract women and families,? Hannon said.
?We wanted to freshen it up, open up the entrance and enhance the heritage qualities of the building.?
James Hannon and his team at Haps Hotels have been operating venues for over 30 years and currently own the Hornsby Inn and the Epping Hotel, alongside the Bayview Hotel.
This experience has played an important role in the makeover and has assisted them in building a better balance to meet the evolving needs of their identified market.
For the complete article on the Bayview Hotel makeover see the latest editon of Australian Hotelier
Retailers failing to target 'millenials': ALSA Study Tour
By James Atkinson
A group of liquor retailers visiting the USA on the ALSA Study Tour has identified several findings relevant to their businesses in the Australian market.
As the study tour draws to a close, ALSA president Giuseppe Minissale said it was evident that in the US market, both suppliers and retailers were heavily focused on growth opportunities.
One of these was the 'Millenials' or Generation Y - an important group of younger generation adults whose needs, wants and tastes are very different to their predecessors.?
The retailers in the group all agreed that there was very little focus on these consumers in the Australian context.
"This year's trip has once again challenged our existing beliefs," Minissale said.?
"Whilst there are many aspects of the US market that are different to our own, the themes we have identified we can develop and bring back to Australia as learnings from the trip."
The Study Tour group will be presenting their findings at this year's ALSA Conference in Darwin in late August.
By James Atkinson
Stoneleigh has recently introduced a mid-tier Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir as exclusives to the independent retail and on-premise channels in Australia.
Wines under the Latitude label are sourced from Marlborough vineyards within an area dubbed the ?Golden Mile?, known for outstanding grape growing conditions resulting in aromatically-lifted wines.
The current release includes the Latitude Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (pictured left), a portion of which was fermented in oak to add texture and weight.?
"This 2014 vintage has produced a great example of this textural and weighty wine, with a flinty minerality to top it all off," says Stoneleigh winemaker Jamie Marfell (pictured below).
The Latitude Sauvignon Blanc should see Stoneleigh further capitalise on continued strong growth in the NZ Sauvignon Blanc category of almost six per cent a year.
NZ Sauvignon Blanc makes up 34.7 per cent of the Australian white wine market and Stoneleigh enjoys a 9.4 per cent share of the NZ Sauvignon Blanc segment.
Also in the new mid-tier range is the Latitude Pinot Noir 2013 (pictured right), which Marfell says captures the bright, rich, red berry fruit characters of the varietal, with a delicate palate structure showing both elegance and finesse.
"2013 was a fantastic growing season and is reflected in the fruit we received and the purity of the wine we have made. This wine comes from an iconic vintage, and will continue to develop beautifully in the bottle,? he says.
The Latitude wines are available through the Independent Brands Australia (IBA) and Independent Liquor Group (ILG) retail banners, as well as the on-premise channel
Also new in Australia is the Stoneleigh Marlborough Pinot Noir Rosé 2014, introduced off the back of strong consumer feedback at the Stoneleigh pop-up bars held in Sydney and Melbourne over the summer.