The real workers in wine retail

Unfortunately, there won’t be a TKR next week as it’s final assessment time for the lung transplant and I have to spend Tuesday to Friday in hospital. I’m also not sure about the week after, as the buggers have unexpectedly booked me in for another procedure, which could put me out of action for three days. I will get TKR back ASAP.

I have been in the business of wine for more than 40 years. In that time I have seen a lot of changes, nearly all of them for the good. I still hold doubts about marketing and PR people, but I tolerate them. They do what they do; so be it. At least it provides jobs for those who have to clean up after their cock-ups.

Women in wine is interesting. In those four decades I have seen the trade/industry change from having a minuscule female representation to what it is today. I keep out of the gender balance argument, but do firmly believe in equal opportunity and equal pay. What I will say about balance is that gender should not prevent talent advancing; the best person should get the job, whatever their gender.

I’m interested in youth, and what young people understand about the industry/trade; having spent my early years working for Oddbins, when it was moving from little known to the smart or smart-arsed trendy wine retailer of the 1970s and into the 80s. There is a group, post-Seagram takeover, that thinks it was the inspiration that established the great era of the company. But in my opinion Oddbins started to decline the day it went corporate.

Anyhow, enough of history. The retail world today is dominated by chains, with the odd independent here and there. Chains, by definition, need to have structure, HQ management, area managers and so on. Sometimes those in these positions are strict company people who follow the company line, do the job, stay within bounds and look to the promotion ladder they are on. Put another way: dull.

For some time I have been looking to get comment from those at the pointy end: the people who are not only starting out in their careers but also deal every day with consumers. After discussion with people at Endeavour Drinks Group, which is responsible for about half off-premises retail sales in Australia, it was a delight to receive a list of BWS store managers who from time to time will give TKR and its readers literally the view from the shop floor. A couple are introduced in Australian Wine News.


Until I return.

Good karma.




1 thought on “The real workers in wine retail”

  1. Tony,
    Sorry I am late to comment.
    I empathise with you. My view is that for the very reason you state, the big chains stand to lose all but the lower end of the wine market.
    I am old enough to realise that food & wine trends move in cycles. Wow! When I was 10 years old a “Tank Loaf” of white bread was the Ants Pants!
    What happened? The supermarkets became boring – and “boutique” delis and other food stores emerged. To give them their due, the supermarket operators have stretched their offering to provide in-house baked bread et al. – but their modus operandi will never permit them to compete with the agility of the small passionate foodie deli/store on the corner.

    Relevance to wine?
    Our industry might be on a slower cycle – let’s face it, the Aussie wine culture as we know it, is only 40 or so years old… but mark my words – We ARE in a cycle and I believe it will see the re-emergence of independent wine retailers who are passionate about their business and who have equally passionate and knowledgeable staff.
    Most of those staff will come from Woolworths and Coles – where their passion is not satisfied….

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