Kollaras & Co. drawing inspiration from the ‘hipster revolution’

15 March, 2019 by Deborah Jackson

The evolution of Kollaras & Co. “from a wholesaler to a brand-focused business” has been the principal focus of the company for the past few years, and in 2018 Managing Director John Kollaras was excited to start receiving recognition for the company’s portfolio. For example, Two Truths was named New Wine Product of the Year at the 2018 LSA NSW & ACT Retail Liquor Industry Awards for Excellence, and Kollaras has more products he plans to release in 2019.

“This was an important moment for our whole business, when we talk about our goals and something tangible is delivered to represent successful delivery of them, it makes you proud. We have a few brands in the works and are gearing up for a massive year.

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“In addition to this, outside of continued growth coming out of Asia, our cruise business is expanding its footprint with the appointment of new resources in the USA to support our existing cruise business but also to support our focus for growing our brands into the global cruise market, a new frontier of growth for us.”

Kollaras has also stressed the benefit of “bringing in capable, experienced and strategic minds”, such as Doug Misener, who has brought extra edge to the third-generation family business.

“Bringing in capable, experienced and strategic minds is essential to any organisation that is challenging itself to grow and evolve. Our appointment of many of our people from both within and outside the industry is representative of our recognition of just how important this is in our pursuit of organisational excellence.”

Kollaras highlighted the advantages of running a family business, combining “nimbleness” with a more long-term approach.

“Family businesses have a great sense of authenticity, both when dealing with internal and external stakeholders. There is a passion within them that is not easily curated as part of a corporate culture, it is in the DNA of a family business and can be very powerful. Further to this, there is a great benefit in being both nimble and not focused on often limiting time horizons of public companies, which gives you a platform for more long-term decision making.”

The upcoming year will see Kollaras & Co. continue to target new drinking demographics and occasions, in particular the “hipster revolution”, which Kollaras describes as “fun, funky and mysterious”.

“Two Truths was very much an example of success in this space and both retailers and consumers told us they want more of this. What is also an important differentiator for our brand portfolio is we focus equally on targeting the right value chain outcomes for our customers, so that the total package delivers for everybody. From brand development, this is as important a part of the brief as anything else.”

That’s not to say that Kollaras doesn’t foresee challenges lying ahead in 2019 in the form of regulation. To ensure that things are done correctly, he is calling for unity from the industry, alongside informed conversations at all levels moving forward.

“With the benefit of some perspective of a product with even greater regulation than alcohol, through our business unit Tobacco Imports Company (TIC), I think it is important that there is a united voice coming from our industry in the form of an informed position on good alcohol regulation in the future. There is a real risk across all layers of the liquor industry if regulation is approached incorrectly in the long-term. A sensible, industry wide conversation, including players big and small, is really important to ensure the right outcomes long-term.”

This article was written for the 2019 National Liquor News Annual Industry Leaders Forum published in February.