Liquor a drag for Coles, but help is coming
By James Atkinson
Coles has appointed former Rudd Government staffer Andrew Charlton as finance chief of its liquor business in a bid to address the division's flagging fortunes.
Growth in Coles' total food and liquor sales outstripped that of rival Woolworths, but the management of parent company Wesfarmers yesterday admitted a poor showing in liquor detracted from this result.
"In an overall sense, liquor was again a drag on the food and liquor performance [comparable results] for the quarter," said Wesfarmers CEO Richard Goyder.
"It pulled back our comparables in food and liquor by just under 1 per cent."
Acknowledging Coles had "some work to do" to address the slide, Goyder said help is on its way.
"Liquor is getting a fair bit of attention in Coles at the moment, including a number of new resources in there supporting [liquor boss] Tony Leon," he said.
Goyder was speaking as the company announced internally that it had appointed Andrew Charlton – the former economic adviser to Kevin Rudd during his time as Prime Minister – as chief financial officer of liquor.
"Andrew will take responsibility for finance, strategy and the development of liquor online," the company said.
"Andrew has worked closely with Coles through his previous role in Wesfarmers Business Development and brings a wealth of experience as a senior economist and analyst in government and from his time in consulting."
On a positive note, Goyder said Coles' liquor business had increased market share over the quarter, with "reasonable" growth in its large format stores and outlets attached to supermarkets.
"It's more challenging in the smaller format stores when they're on their own," he said.
Wesfarmers said Coles was working hard to improve its online liquor retail offering.
The division's total food and liquor sales grew by 4.3 per cent to $7.3 billion in the second quarter.
Coles opened 19 new liquor stores during the period, taking its total number of outlets to 886.