Supermarket war hits liquor


ColesColes has opened up a new front in its battle with Woolworths, launching an overhaul of its liquor business.

The changes are not likely to deliver the same savings to shoppers as the supermarket war though, with Coles more focused on improving the look of its bottle shops and narrowing their range of beer, wine and spirits.

Coles operates 820 bottle shops under the Liquorland, First Choice and Vintage Cellars brands.

Its liquor sales have fallen in the first nine months of this financial year, while Woolworths recently reported sales growth in its Dan Murphy’s and BWS businesses.

New Coles boss John Durkan admitted the company’s bottle shops were cluttered and confusing, and its staff were under trained.

“We know that we can optimise this business and make it reasonably profitable,” he said.

“This is the same turnaround strategy that we had in Coles five years ago that we’ve now got in liquor.”

Coles wants to streamline its network of bottle shops, but Durkan said decisions on the future of individual stores would be made later in the year.

Asked if the First Choice chain was under pressure from its main rival Dan Murphy’s, Durkan said some First Choice stores were performing well, but conceded others weren’t.

“This will take a while, there’s no quick fixes in this,” he said.

Coles also wants to simplify its liquor supply chain and cut its business costs.

Durkan signaled a stronger focus on fresh food in Coles supermarkets in order to attract the 30 per cent of its customers who do not buy their fruit and vegetables in store.

Part of that focus would involve increased investment in local producers, in order to improve the quality of its fruit and vegetables, he said.



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