Michael Waters Retail Drinks

New CEO for Retail Drinks

December 3, 2020
By Ioni Doherty

Retail Drinks Australia has officially announced Michael Waters to the role of chief executive officer leading the organisation into the post-COVID era.

Following the departure of founding CEO, Julie Ryan in July this year Waters assumed the role of acting CEO and came well-versed on retail drinks industry affairs from in-house experience. Since December 2018 he held the position of chief operating officer of Retail Drinks.

Retail Drinks Chairman John Carmody said they were delighted with Waters’ appointment and look forward to his leadership.

Speaking on his appointment, Waters said the most significant challenge for Retail Drinks as the national peak body advocating on behalf of the retail liquor industry is the increasing level of government regulation impacting on the availability, affordability and accessibility of alcohol products.

Waters says they are committed to ensuring the interests of liquor retailers are well-represented throughout all stages of the policy development process.     

“My number one priority in representing the entire retail liquor industry is to ensure that we continue to deliver on our vision of enhancing the freedom to retail responsibly. As part of delivering this vision, I am excited to be a strong advocate for the rights of all liquor retailers in Australia and to uphold Retail Drinks’ core role in acting as a consistent and unified voice with governments at all levels across Australia.

“This is complemented by delivering value to our members through providing relevant and cost-effective services enhancing their ability to operate sustainably and effectively,” Waters said.

When asked how he saw the industry evolving, Waters says we have already seen several significant changes in the retail liquor industry over the last five years, particularly concerning the growth of the online alcohol delivery sector.

“Many of these changes have been driven by evolving consumer preferences which have seen liquor retailers adapt their businesses in response. For instance, we are seeing Australians continuing to drink less overall but choosing to drink higher quality alcohol products, which has impacted the product offerings of individual liquor retailers.”

It’s been a tough year for Retail Drinks but they have delivered positive outcomes such as the Online Code of Conduct and advocating for liquor retail to be classified as an essential service during COVID. Looking forward to 2021 Waters says he is proud of the various achievements, especially in the policy and advocacy space and hopes to continue this momentum into the future.

“Our Online Alcohol Sale and Delivery Code of Conduct continues to set a globally-recognised standard in industry self-regulation, and liquor retailers have been able to stay open throughout the COVID-19 lockdowns as a result of our successful advocacy with various governments around Australia.

“In 2021, Retail Drinks will be focussed on delivering the key elements of our strategic plan, which we unveiled at our most recent AGM in September. This includes our major strategic priorities of driving momentum, continuing to lead and deliver value, expanding our member services and benefits, enhancing industry responsibility, sharing our stories and promoting the good…

“Our members can rest assured that Retail Drinks is doing its utmost to nurture a stable political, social and commercial environment to enable the industry to grow sustainably over the long term,” Waters concluded.

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