last updated 09/09/2019
last updated 09/09/2019
Liquorland is looking for high-energy retailers with a real customer focus to own their own stores
With over 115 stores around the country, and backed by the support and buying power of one of New Zealand’s largest retailers, Liquorland has to be one of the biggest and best brands in franchising.
A fixture on New Zealand’s high streets since 1981, Liquorland was purchased by the Foodstuffs co-operative ten years ago. That gave franchisees access to the expertise and buying power behind other names such as Pak’nSave, New World, Four Square and Gilmours – and they haven’t looked back since. Today there are 88 franchisees operating all around New Zealand, with some owning multiple outlets, and the company is looking for franchisees to establish stores in developing areas.
‘Liquorland franchisees need to have a passion for the liquor industry and be committed to offering an exceptional customer experience,’ says Brendon Lawry, who joined Liquorland as CEO three years ago after a career spanning 20 years in the liquor and FMCG industries. ‘You really need to care for your customers and the brand, as well as having the business acumen and retail skills to make the most of the opportunity the franchise provides.
‘This is a high volume/competitive industry, so we work hard to provide a good mix of premium products, including craft beers, wines and high-end spirits as drivers of our range and promotional programmes.
‘By providing a good service in your community you can turn over some big numbers. Liquorland stores are among the most profitable in the industry. This is a strong cashflow business – in many cases, product is sold before it’s paid for – and with our newly-developed annual profit share rebate offering further benefits, top operators can expect to achieve great results.’
So what makes a top operator? ‘The key driver of success is the care they take of their customers,’ says Brendon. ‘When they genuinely care about the customer and the experience they give them, the outcome is always positive.
‘Franchisees come from all sorts of backgrounds. Some have years of experience in the liquor sector, like one of our suppliers who changed sides and joined the franchise six months ago. He could see how good the model is, and is doing very well already. We have ex-military guys who combine the discipline of running a tight operation with the delight of customer contact, while our most recent new franchisees operated what was pretty much the last viable video store in New Zealand. The husband-and-wife team looked after their customers incredibly well there, and now they’re transferring those skills into a new sector.
‘At the same time, we are really strict on who we will accept as a franchisee. We have a really pro-active, high-energy group of franchisees and we want to maintain that. The majority of the feedback we receive from customers, good or bad, is about people, so it’s vital for a franchisee to have the right personality and be able to recruit and train the right team. They also need to be able to combine our national product offer with local variation to suit the needs of their local community.
‘The market is getting harder and harder to enter as licensing requirements get tougher, and we welcome that. Because of our reputation, and our partnership with Foodstuffs, we often get first option at new developments, and we welcome conversion of existing outlets to the Liquorland brand in suitable locations. There’s also a slow but steady trickle of existing stores that are coming up for sale as older franchisees retire – these offer an excellent opportunity for energetic new owners to take over an existing customer base.’
Putting the right people in the right place
An average Liquorland store will have around 3-4 employees. Key trading periods are Fridays and Saturdays, especially later in the day. Some franchisees work all hours, some Tuesday-Saturday, or have key staff and managers, especially where franchises have more than one store. ‘Even then, you need to stay on top of customer relationships in all your stores – you can’t spread yourself too thin,’ warns Brendon. A brand new store requires an investment of around $300-400,000; existing stores and conversions vary.
In terms of training, ‘A liquor licence is a key requirement,’ Brendon says. ‘We very much treat our licences as a privilege, not a right, so understanding of and compliance to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act is incredibly important and we take new franchisees through that process. We want people with business management experience and financial acumen, so we test that. As well as two weeks working in a current store, we also put candidates in front of a panel including at least one franchisee, and the questions go both ways. It’s really important for all of us to get the right people on board.
‘Once you’re approved, you get tremendous support. There are excellent supplier terms and specialists in operations, merchandise, finance, IT and marketing to help you. Liquorland offers Fly Buys and Air Points programmes as well as Click & Collect, and there’s ongoing service training for you and your staff.
‘If you love the retail business, love delighting your customers and love the liquor business, contact us and find out more about opportunities with Liquorland. We’d love to find out more about you.’
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