Nothing can be more interesting than to give the women the opportunity to choose their favourite brand of beer or wine from a retail store. It might sound a little odd to some but on a welcoming move, after liberalization of the alcohol licensing policy by the government of Maharashtra, under FL BR II license, more and more super markets and mega shopping centers are making space for the beer and wine shops.
Much to everyone’s relief now it is easier and convenient to pick up your monthly stock of beer or wine while shopping for grocery at any supermarket. Under the new regulation, any liquor retail store can tie up with the supermarkets and avail space inside the same premise to sell wine and beer. Though other hard liquors do not fall under this category, this is still welcomed by the wine lovers. “This has given us a decision making capacity with so many choices available on display. Earlier I was a little hesitant to buy wine and even beer from the stand alone liquor stores, but now things has changed,” says, 23 years old, Gargi who frequently organizes parties at her place for her friends.
Living Liquidz, a three decade old wine and spirits retailing company, has plans to set up more than 160 retail points within Mumbai and Pune by end of 2008. Currently they are present in Spencer’s, Fooldland and Spinach the major hypermarkets in Mumbai. Consumers can also place orders through the website and will have the deliveries made across the city. “Wine shops were always looked down upon and the variety offered is never impressive. Living Liquidz wine boutiques will make available the finest choice of wines, spirits and imported liquor at off the shelf prices, locally available to consumers”, says, Mokssh Sani, MD Living Liquidz.
Living Liquidz stocks an exhaustive collection of the finest wines from France, Italy, Argentina, Spain, Portugal, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, California as well as Cyprus, Bulgaria and Serbia. Special care has been taken while packaging and storing the wines, with proper storage angles at correct temperatures, with personal attention, and a large variety and a fair price. A special set of Bar Set-Up’s, Bar Accessories will also be made available at all outlets to complete the wine experience very soon.
The monthly revenue from the Spencer’s store is Rs 5 to 6 lakhs says Asish Gupta, the Operation Manager of Living Liquidz.
In 5 to 6 months time we are hoping to cross Rs 8 to Rs10 lakhs with the Inorbit store and Rs 12 to Rs 15 lakhs from the Juhu store considering of the kind of crowd that it pulls every day.
The only legality that the retailing company has to take care of is the FLBR II license with the yearly charges of Rs 84,300.
The response to the store has been tremendous says Asish Gupta. Especially for ladies, this has proved to be a much easier way to pick up their own products as they generally do not prefer to buy liquor from the stand alone retail stores.
The company plans to come up with 45 retail stores in tie up with Spencer’s, 45 with Spinach and 40 stores with Foodland in various cities like Mumbai, Pune Bangalore, Gurgaon and Chennai by end of this year. We are also talking to the multiplexes to allow us space to set up our liquor stores, he says.
Some of the other retail outlets where wine is available include Haiko Supermarket, Powai, Big Bazar, Lower Parel.
With an intention to give a boost to the wine industry in Maharashtra, there had been proposals to set up wine bars in public areas across the State. Under the new Excise regulations, the license to sell wine in supermarkets and grocery stores works out to be one-fourth of the cost of a regular liquor shop license.
As per the latest rules, bars can set up small parties and get-togethers with daily license fees of Rs600. Earlier when wine was clubbed with hard liquor and only eateries were permitted to be served; they used to charge a daily license of Rs 6, 000.
This decision has come at a time when wine is receiving tremendous visibility and the future looks bright not only for connoisseurs but also for those in the wine business. As per the recent government figures, the wine industry in the country is growing at 35-40 per cent a year which is faster than the consumption of the usual favourite whisky, which is growing at eight per cent. The domestic wine industry has also matured enough to compete for shelf space with international brands.
There are super markets like Haiko, owned by Surendra Hiranandani which has opened its own liquor corner in the premise. An official from Lakewood Malls, Powai, says, “The response to this new initiative has been fantastic and the category is growing day by day. The mall gets an average of around Rs 35,000/- per day from the wine shop. The annual turn over of the Haiko store is approx 26 crores.”
Speaking about the trends these days among the liquor buyers, he says, “Liquor buyers beyond age of 35 are more or less brand conscious but youngsters with high disposable incomes(young employees of BPO’s in Hiranandani area) do experiment with multiple brands therefore the trend is clearly demanding variety. Liquor buying is also elastic to the price discounts.”
The advantage over buying the wine and beer from a Haiko store or Spencer’s or Food Land is that it is much cheaper than standalone stores as the prices are lower than regular wine shops.
When asked about the legalities of opening a liquor corner inside shopping malls, he replies, the store needs to have an independent area within the store, which can be accessed by customers without disturbing activities of the store and can be shut separately during dry days, plus one needs to obtain the FL BR II license from the excise department for retailing wines and beer.
People are crazy about imported beers but the craze has reduced drastically as we have good domestic brands available in India now, however if there is reduction in import duty by the government then there will not be much price difference left between local & imported brands & that would be the awaited moment by every liquor buyer so that he has much wider assortment to choose from.
At present, just one outlet of Haiko has liquor store but the plan is to have two more stores by this year-end, he says.
The dynamics of liquor distribution is also changing in recent times and as some state governments allowing alcohol products to be sold through organised retail, liquor companies are coming up with new business strategies.
Currently, only Karnataka allows wine and beer on retail shelves. Delhi allows beer and Maharashtra only wine. West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh are expected to follow suit.
Apart from companies like UB and Radico Khaitan who are planning to take advantage of this new found opportunity, Diageo is also opening its exclusive brand stores. The first Johnnie Walker store has been opened in Mumbai suburbs recently.
FL BR II, the new licensing system created by the Maharashtra state excise minister, Ganesh Naik, could be issued to the non-liquor stores. The licence has to be renewed yearly and could be issues for ‘soft’ liquor. The district collector is the licensing authority for this category unlike the earlier system where the state excise department had the sole right to issue a liquor licence. Any shop can now apply for a licence to the collector and store or/and sale beer and wine.
Along with retail shops, malls or grocery stores, eating joints can also serve wine even if they don’t possess a restaurant or hotel licence.
- By Rojita B.Tiwari