The Drinks Association has welcomed John Barakat, General Manager Retail & Wholesale Operations at Australian Liquor Marketers (ALM), as a Board Member.
ALM is the largest wholesaler and the second biggest purchaser of alcohol beverages in Australia.
“We believe that industry bodies such as the Drinks Association bring the industry together, ensuring we build meaningful relationships that benefit the industry,” Barakat said. “We also trust that it is a natural progression in ALM’s commitment to the industry.
“I feel privileged to be representing ALM on the Drinks Association Board. I’m very much looking forward to working collaboratively with other Board Members to continue on with making a positive difference to the industry.”
Barakat said he hoped to provide value and support to the drinks industry as a Board Member, through initiatives that will help strengthen and future-proof the industry during these unprecedented times.
“I also hope to build and strengthen my connection with other Board Members,” he added.
Barakat has been with ALM’s parent company, Metcash, for more than 12 years, in roles ranging from accounting to commercial and was appointed CFO in 2018 before moving to his current role. He noted that ALM was a great company to work for due to its focus on championing successful independent liquor retailers.
“Knowing you are supporting mum and dad businesses, which also supports local communities for employment, sporting clubs, and charities is very rewarding,” he said. “The other aspect is the people. We are very fortunate to have great culture and diversity in our business.”
The Metcash Group, is a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion. In 2019, it was recognised as an employer of choice for gender equality and received an official citation from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
“The citation recognises employer commitment and best practice in promoting gender equality in Australian workplaces,” Barakat said.
Metcash has made significant progress across a number of workplace initiatives including:
- Promotion and leadership support of flexible working arrangements (including start/finish times, job sharing)
- Significant progress in closing the gender pay gap
- Establishing a Diversity and Inclusion Committee and championing gender equality across the business
- Tailored parental leave policies to support both women and men
- A campaign to attract females to traditionally male-dominated roles such as logistics
ALM supports its on-premise partners during COVID-19
Barakat said it had been a challenging year for ALM’s on-premise customers, who continue to be impacted by COVID-19.
As venues were closing in March, ALM worked closely with them to help minimise the financial impact on its customers.
“ALM worked with venues on stock returns and provided credits as well as putting payment plans in place to assist with cash flow issues,” Barakat said.
“As we started to see some light at the end of the tunnel and restrictions easing, we created ‘Project Awakening’. The objectives of this project were to support venues to re-open, assist our supplier partners in the delivery of their plans collaboratively, and ensure careful and diligent safety management of our team, our suppliers and venues.
“Our ALM on-premise team have been working closely with suppliers on building a support pack that’s made some fantastic re-opening deals available to help venues build back their stock levels.
“Further to this, we have provided credit extensions to enable venues to purchase stock, which allows a significantly reduced operation the ability to open.
“ALM is keen to continue partnering with on-premise venues and can provide a variety of benefits to help build back their businesses. This also includes our recently developed online marketplace, Agora, which connects our on-premise customers to suppliers with web-ordering, one invoice and the largest range of products, with flexible delivery options and a local support team.”
With restrictions continuing to ease around the country and two recent acquisitions for ALM – Liquor Centre and Kollaras’ private label portfolio – Barakat said it’s going to be an exciting year ahead.
“All I see is opportunity over the next 12 months,” he concluded.