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The largest liquor store chains in Australia

Sydney / Australia

The largest liquor store chains in Australia

“BWS” and “Dan Murphy’s.” It is a sure thing that these are Aussies’ go-to liquor stores. With more than 1600 locations across Australia, they are literally leading the industry. Both brands are owned by Endeavour Group, one of the nation’s biggest players in retail drinks and the hospitality business whose annual group sales reaches 11.6 billion AUD. Its 28,000 team members are passionate about their purpose: “Creating a more sociable future, together.” Today there is an increasing demand towards Japanese alcoholic beverages such as sake and shochu, and BWS and Dan Murphy’s stores have expanded their range. Australia is a multi-cultural country—the 2021 Census found that almost half of Australians have a parent born overseas (48.2%), with 27.6% reporting a birthplace overseas. There is no question that their tastes for drinks are also getting more diverse.

Sake and shochu

Within the range of Japanese alcoholic drinks, sake and shochu are seeing the biggest growth. “What we are seeing is that customers are increasingly looking for more discovery, more new and interesting drinks to try—they want to expand their palates and explore drinks they may have never tasted before! Drinks made in Asia are in-demand particularly among premium customers, especially Zoomers and Millennials,” explained Samuel Lam, Endeavour Group Asian Beverage Souring Manager. In July 2022, the group doubled its sake range, offering customers more options to choose from. Shochu is also becoming popular with its sales having almost doubled in the last fiscal year. “Customers are turning to shochu because it has a unique flavor and is a spirit that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Most shochu also has a lower ABV and fewer calories than many other spirits like vodka,” he also explained.

More is less

When people look for something new, labels are the best place to find basic information. Sake has a delicate taste, texture and aroma, and it varies depending on the rice variety, polishing rate, brewing method and many other factors. This makes the sake world very deep, but it is sometimes confusing for Australians. To solve this problem, sake bottles on BWS and Dan Murphy’s shelves have unique labels. Pinnacle Drinks—a distribution company within Endeavour Group—designs these labels based on their abundant experience in the wine industry. “We have tried to keep the information straight forward. For example, sake labels can be very technical, and we have tried to simplify them, or have asked the team to focus on specific information,” Mr. Lam explained. The labels do not have too much information but still provide a clear index, which will surely help customers to find one to try.

The future of Japanese alcoholic beverages

“Aussies are enjoying exploring more premium expressions of sake, in particular junmai daiginjo sake, which is the highest grade of sake,” Mr. Lam explained. Customs data also shows that the amount of alcoholic beverage exports from Japan to Australia has steadily grown over the past years, jumping by approximately 60% from 2020 (2.6 billion yen) to 2021 (4.2 billion yen). It is nothing but a tailwind to BWS and Dan Murphy’s. “There’s definitely still place to grow. For example, the range has been quite straight forward for sake and has not included other styles like sparkling, koshu, nigori sake, or different types of gin and shochu,” he added. He also said that the team makes as much internal communication as possible, enabling each staff member to ask and learn about the bottles on their shelves. It must be a lot of work, and we Japanese owe a debt of gratitude to the team for their ceaseless effort and passion toward Japanese alcoholic drinks. “Japan is a key country that we decided to focus on.” Let’s just hope more and more Aussies enjoy Japanese alcoholic beverages.