Paramount Liquor celebrates thirty years of business this year, and this month, it becomes Australia’s largest family-owned liquor wholesaler this month when the merger with Queensland’s Liquid Specialty Beverages is complete.
Liquid Specialty Beverages Merger
Paramount bought an equity stake in Liquid SB last year after a decade of the two businesses working closely together.
Paramount has spent the past year planning to integrate Liquid SB under the Paramount umbrella when it will service more than 9,000 on-premise customers from Adelaide to far north Queensland.
“We are two family businesses in partnership,” says Paramount’s Director, Nathan Rowe (pictured above brother, Leigh Rowe).
“We have been in business together for a decade. We expect it to be a smooth transition.”
The sales reps, customer service and invoice systems will remain the same for Liquid SB’s customers, says Mr Rowe .
Paramount operates in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales & the ACT with warehouses in NSW, VIC and SA. Liquid SB services venues from the Northern Rivers of New South to Port Douglas in far north Queensland, through its two warehousing facilities.
Suppliers and customers are expected to benefit from a single, on-premise focused solution, including the unified ordering portal that was launched by Paramount last year.
Supplier partners’ brands will be marketed and distributed nationally across five distribution centres, totalling more than 50,000sqm.
Three decades on, it is a long way from the single bottle shop opened by Mark and Christine Rowe when the couple moved from Queensland to Melbourne in 1992 with a truckload of XXXX to sell.
Move to off-premise: Sessions
In addition to its on-premise customers, Paramount has also established its Sessions retail networks in Victoria (8) and New South Wales (6). The stores focus on offering local and premium product fit just right to their local markets.
Spearheaded by former ALM team: Jon Fernandes and Fergus Collins, Paramount’s target was to have 12 stores in play within the first six months of 2022 and its next is to have 30 Sessions stores in Victoria and New South Wales by the end of the year.
Mr Rowe says that the business has South Australia and Queensland in its sights for more Sessions outlets.
Diversification & Expansion
It is a whole new world following two years of lockdowns. The impact of COVID was transformative for Paramount. Given its world was 95 per cent on-premise, the response to the pandemic by the family had to be immediate.
After losing all revenue at the onset of the pandemic, retrieving all stock as lockdown hit and maintaining all of its employees, Paramount had to diversify to survive. It did so with a strategy to build its e-commerce servicing capabilities and to develop a revenue stream via off-premise channels.
Paramount acquired a tech firm of twelve, upped the head count of the business, and shifted its warehousing facilities in New South Wales to Yennora expanding its distribution footprint to more than 30,000 sqm across Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.
Hires to the new team from this year alone include new General Manager, Adam Trewin who joined the business after a very short stint at Lark Distillery, Commercial Partnerships Manager, Sean Forsyth, and NSW Sales Manager, Matt Gardener. The business also has sales field teams on the ground in four states. Paramount now employees more than 500 people.
Its Evolution Marketing Program has been rolled out, supporting its on-premise customer base as well as serving the business’ digital and sales strategies. With such a big on-premise sample, Paramount has a big data offering to share with its suppliers. It has access and insights into on-premise trends, on-premise decision makers and the website and customer user experience allows Paramount to share valuable feedback to its supplier partners.
The program is heavily incentivised, and Paramount recently conducted the first of its targeted sample opportunities to 1500-2000 of its most loyal on-premise customers.
This kind of data means that Paramount has an offering beyond price. This is something to which Paramount has always remained true.
In 2022 and its 30th year, Paramount is in a whole new league.
However, while Paramount may have shored up its position, Mr Rowe acknowledges that uncertain times lie ahead.
By now, this is a familiar prediction for FY23: suppliers are running low on stock, raw materials are increasing in price, fuel costs are well on the rise and, Mr Rowe says: “The ability to attract high quality staff is the most challenging it’s ever been.”
He’d like to see immigration open up and is hopeful that relief will come with the return of international students to support a strong casual workforce throughout Australia.
Despite all this, Mr Rowe takes great comfort recalling that at this time last year, Sydney and Melbourne were back in lockdown and that today, Paramount is tracking 30-40 per cent ahead of where it was in 2019 during first lockdown.
The next 30 years are going to look very different, and be very exciting, at Paramount.