Lion New Zealand is selling its chain of Liquor King retail stores in New Zealand.
The brewer has operated Liquor King for more than 25 years and currently has 22 outlets. They will continue to trade during the sale process, however the Liquor King website will be shut down on August 31.
Lion NZ country director Craig Baldie said the company saw its core business as manufacturing, distributing and marketing adult beverages, rather than retailing, moving forward.
“Lion NZ has also become an increasingly complex business in a very competitive market and we believe a simplified focus will create space for us to unlock future growth in our core business,” he said in a statement.
“We have a hardworking and talented Lion Liquor Retailing team. We have not made this decision lightly and appreciate this creates uncertainty for those involved.
“Lion Liquor Retailing has been performing well and we believe there will be strong interest in the business based on the current retail market environment,” said Baldie.
Lion NZ also announced earlier this month that it would stop production of its cheap and cheerful Bernadino sparkling wine.
A Lion spokesperson said in a statement to Stuff: “The sparkling wine category is very competitive and with costs rising unfortunately it has become commercially unviable to continue its production at this time.
“We understand this may be sad news for the loyal Bernadino fans out there. There is still stock available at some retailers and similar wine styles to try including the Riccadona range from Italy.”
Metcash grows its liquor network in NZ
While Lion is exiting liquor retail in New Zealand, Metcash amped up its offering across the Tasman last year. The distributor announced in June 2020 that it had acquired Liquor Centre chain.
Liquor Centre commenced business in 1992 with just a couple of stores and has grown to become the largest liquor chain in NZ, with more than 235 stores nationwide.
“It gives me great pleased to announce that The Bottle-O and Merchants Liquor group have reached an agreement to acquire the Liquor Centre banner group, which encompasses the Liquor Centre, Liquor Spot and Satellite brands in New Zealand,” CEO Chris Baddock said.
“The combination of these liquor retail marketing groups increases the size of our member network in New Zealand from 110 stores to 350, offering consumers access to a convenient liquor store anywhere they are in the country.
“This acquisition builds on the greater than 2500 store network in Australia and provides a platform for the development of superior retail programs and supplier engagement in New Zealand.
“Our plan in New Zealand is to continue running Liquor Centre Group with its operations Manager, Andrew Senaratne, and its three Regional Managers, utilising all of their experience and expertise. Lal Senaratne, Liquor Centre’s Managing Director, will take a step back, but will no doubt keep a close eye on how the team and group is performing in the future. So, for most people it will be business as usual with the focus on delivering for the Liquor Centre members across the country.”