The Coles Liquor team has joined together to mark the end of the financial year and raise a toast to CEO Darren Blackhurst. before he returns to the UK to be closer to his family.
Coles Liquor announced in April that Blackhurst was returning to the United Kingdom. Blackhurst joined the company in 2020.
General Manager Operations Steve Hugginson said: “We should be very proud of what we have achieved over the last few years, but I can say categorically, that without Darren’s vision and leadership, we wouldn’t have delivered it. On behalf of the Coles Liquor team, we will miss his mentorship and his coaching.”
Joined by his wife, Samantha at the celebration, Darren Blackhurst said: “It’s breaking our hearts to leave Australia and to be leaving this team. It’s been a privilege to be your CEO and a pleasure to be a part of Coles Group. This team has united behind a vision and turned it into reality. I can’t thank everyone enough for their hard work and for making this business much simpler than it was, much more accessible than it was, more locally relevant and making us the drinks specialist we are today!”
Coles Group CEO Leah Weckert has promoted Michael Courtney to the role of CEO Liquor.
Courtney has led the Coles Express business for more than four years.
“Michael has spent the past six months immersing himself in the e-commerce business and transforming our customer offer,” Weckert said.
“Michael is exceptionally well-placed to lead liquor in delivering the strategy and transformation plans underway. He is committed to building a strong culture and team who are passionate about being local drinks specialists. I’m delighted to welcome Michael to the executive leadership team. He is a fantastic example of building a great career at Coles and this appointment is testament to his ability to seek opportunities to continually adapt and grow.”
Courtney said: “I’m really excited to be taking the role because providing an exceptional drinks experience for customers is key to Coles Group’s strategy.
“Customers are the reason we exist and a really exciting part about the liquor market is that customer trends are continuing to evolve at a rapid pace. If we want to win in this market we have to stay at the forefront of what our customers’ needs are and find a way to best serve them.
“We’ve got three really strong brands in the liquor business being Liquorland, First Choice Liquor Market and Vintage Cellars. They each cater to a variety of customer missions and give us the opportunity to really differentiate in the market.
“Darren Blackhurst in his three years in the business set forward a strategy that has gained really positive momentum and I’m looking forward to building on this and working with the team and our suppliers to be really clear on what our plans are to be the very best drinks retailer in Australia.”