Michael Waters Retail Drinks

Retail Drinks’ initiatives a saviour in pandemic

October 1, 2020
By Melissa Parker

Retail Drinks Australia (Retail Drinks) held its second, and first entirely virtual, Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Wednesday, 30 September where it became evident the organisation’s progressive-thinking has seen many of its initiatives save liquor retail during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over what has been a significantly challenging period, acting CEO Michael Waters presented Retail Drinks’ Annual Report before outlining the organisation’s three-year strategic plan to members.

Mr Waters summarised Retail Drinks’ recent achievements, including the Online Alcohol Sale & Delivery Code of Conduct launched in July 2019, extended opening hours and advocating for liquor retail to be classified as an ‘essential service’, all critical accomplishments for the industry during COVID-19.

An industry first, the Code was developed following comprehensive collaboration with industry and government. The result is a best practice, fit for purpose framework to govern the successful online sales and delivery market, an initiative that came none too quickly given the boost of online sales due to COVID-19.

Retail Drinks collaboratively worked with state and territory governments developing online sales and delivery regulations addressing the national market place issue given liquor license legislation is state and territory-based. So far, NSW and WA have been the first to review their legislation to establish new regulations that reflect Retail Drinks’ Code.

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 As well as extended trading hours for packaged liquor licences (PLLs) in multiple states and territories, Retail Drinks consulted with government and advocated for the classification of liquor retail as an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“The entire liquor industry has benefited enormously from the proactive work of Retail Drinks, and this was reflected in ensuring that liquor retail was able to stay open whilst other industries were being shut down,” Retail Drinks Chair, John Carmody said when addressing members.

COVID-19 also saw Retail Drinks extend member services through the launch of COVID-19 related materials to assist members in navigating the pandemic. These included the COVID-19 Guide for Employers, Social Distancing Guidelines for Retail Liquor Stores and a Mental Health & Wellbeing Guide.

During his address Mr Waters also pointed to the other member services outcomes including the Commonwealth Government as Small Business Digital Champions, hosting the inaugural Liquor Retail Summit and Retail Drinks Industry Awards in October 2019 and launching several new services and benefits to help members run more efficient businesses.

“A key objective for Retail Drinks is to demonstrate the industry’s commitment to responsible retailing, which helps to nurture and develop a more responsible, engaged and respected industry. We will continue to lead and innovate, with a range of initiatives that not only educate and support liquor retailers and the broader industry but educate and support consumers and the communities in which our members serve,” Mr Waters said.

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