Coles Liquor sales revenue has led results for the Group in the first quarter at $726 million, up 3.5% on the prior corresponding period with 0.7% comparable sales growth.
Same-store supermarket sales for the three months ending September rose just 0.1% after rising 2.2% in the June quarter and by 5.1% in the September quarter last year.
Coles Liquor comparable sales growth was impacted by the timing of public holidays in Queensland, NSW, South Australia and ACT. However, it reported a strong performance in First Choice, supported by the roll-out of the First Choice Liquor Market renewal program.
Exclusive liquor brands also contributed to the Coles Liquor sales result result, with penetration at 19.1%, an increase of 1.1 percentage points compared to the fourth quarter of last financial year, and improvements across all categories of wine, beer and spirits.
A total of 26 exclusive liquor brand lines were launched during the quarter, with 136 medals and awards received, including ‘Tinnies Pale Ale’ winning the World’s Best Pale Bitter at the World Beer Awards in London.
The performance of First Choice and exclusive liquor brands offset softer trading conditions in Liquorland.
Growth in Vintage Cellars in the first quarter was largely a result of improvements across the categories of wine and spirits. The first Vintage Cellars trial concept store is on-track to be delivered in the first half of FY20.
Coles Liquor sales growth continued in the online channel with planned website upgrades expected to land through the remainder of FY20.
Coles adds liquor to its UberEats offering
An extension of the UberEats trial from supermarkets into liquor also commenced during the quarter, which Coles noted had improved the convenience offer for customers.
Customers can choose from nearly 60 Liquorland products on the Uber Eats app, including beer and cider, wine, spirits, non-alcoholic drinks and snacks.
Currently about 20 Liquorland stores in Victoria are taking part in the trial, including Camberwell and Northcote, but if the response from consumers is positive more stores will be added.
Investment in the liquor store network continued in the quarter with seven new stores opened and three closed, resulting in a total of 914 retail liquor sites at the end of the period.
Coles has also introduced a drinks-centric collectables campaign that follows up the Little Shop 2 collectables program, offering credits for Spiegelau wine glasses and champagne flutes when customers spend $20 or more in Coles supermarkets, Liquorland and First Choice stores.
Coles Group CEO Steven Cain said: “The refreshed strategy we set out to win in our second century has helped us to deliver a positive set of results for our first quarter. The increased sales momentum we are seeing
in the second quarter demonstrates that the changes we are making to inspire customers are already making a difference.”
New Coles Liquor head announced
Coles revealed last week that British supermarket veteran Darren Blackhurst had been appointed as Coles Liquor Chief Executive.
Cain announced in a memo to staff that Blackhurst would be joining Coles early in the new year.
“Darren joins us with over 25 years’ experience in international retailing and an impressive background delivering results, driving change and leading highly engaged teams,’’ the memo said.
Blackhurst’s most recent role was as Group Commercial Director of Morrisons in the UK.
Coles Liquor has a national team of 5600 team members in 900 stores. Coles Liquor stores; First Choice Liquor Market, Vintage Cellars and Liquorland collectively serve more than two million customers each week.
Cathi Scarce has been Acting Coles Liquor Chief Executive since March 2018.