Championing successful independents: ALM posts record-breaking results for FY23
Australian Liquor Marketers (ALM) CEO Chris Baddock discusses how the company’s single unifying focus has underpinned its strong performance over the past four years.
Chris Baddock, CEO of Australian Liquor Marketers (ALM), was the keynote speaker at the Australian Drinks Association's Network Breakfast held on Wednesday, 28 June 2023, at the Kirribilli Club in Sydney.
A division of Metcash, ALM is the largest liquor supplier to independently owned liquor retailers in Australia and the largest broad-range liquor wholesaler in Australia.
During his presentation, Baddock revealed the full-year results for FY23, showcasing another record-breaking year of sales and earnings.
Metcash recorded an overall group revenue increase of 5.7%, reaching an all-time high of $18.1 billion. The group's underlying EBIT reached a record $501 million, reflecting an 8.1% rise.
The liquor business outperformed the rest of the group, with wholesale revenue sales up 8.3% to achieve a record-breaking $5.1 billion, while EBIT increased by 8.9%. Over the past three years, ALM revenue sales have grown 37.7%, and an impressive 43.0% in EBIT.
Baddock said: "Liquor revenue grew 8.3%, and it's the first time we've been over $5 billion. To give you an indication of just how much we've grown, that was $3.6 billion four years ago when I started in this business."
"It's been a massive team effort. A lot of the hard work was laid down before I started, and we've just taken it to the next level and I believe we can take it to another level again with some of the exciting things we are doing. We are only halfway through our agenda of being the best we can be.”
Reflecting on ALM's sustained growth and outstanding three-year track record, Baddock highlighted the critical factor behind the company's strong performance: its single unifying focus on championing successful independents.
Elaborating on his definition of "successful" independents, Baddock explained to the event attendees: "Our aim is to champion successful independents because they're the ones that believe in retail standards."
"They believe that the customer is number one. They're the ones who don't sit behind the counter and wait for the customer to come in. They're the ones that believe in being the best store in town and make sure they invest in their store. They train their people, they believe in partnership, they listen to suppliers, and they work on their store every day," he added.
Addressing the suppliers in the room, Baddock said building relationships and trust was key to gaining competitive advantage in the independents trade.
"If you want to deal with the independents, you need to build relationships with the committees, and you need to build relationships with the stores so that you understand what's happening and can be agile."
“The suppliers who talk ‘we/us/our’, who go back to the office and talk about their independent accounts like they’re representing them internally – it’s amazing how much love they get. Just by changing their attitude to talk ‘we’.”
On navigating tough market conditions, including inflation, soaring interest rates and an uncertain economy, Baddock said: “My advice to people who are worried about what’s happening in the economy is to look after the things you can look after.”
“One of those things is engagement of the team, engagement of your customers, and making sure you are priced accordingly to the market – consumers are very much looking at value today.”
"I didn't think I'd ever see cask wine in growth. If that's not an indicator that consumers are looking for growth, I don't know what is," he said.
ALM is a Category One Member of the Drinks Association