Last year was a big one for Halewood, officially launching into the Australian market. We caught up with Halewood Australia’s Managing Director, Lawrence Williamson, to reflect on 2019 and look forward into 2020.
Bars&Clubs: How was 2019 for Halewood launching into Australia?
Lawrence Williamson: It’s been an incredibly exciting five months so far with many highlights.
The challenges very much are logistics as we are importing all of our stock from the UK with the exception of Ironbark and the lead times are therefore hard to manage, but we have worked through this and been able to deliver. Challenges around meeting customer orders are nice problems to have at least.
B&C: How have Halewood brands been received by the bartending community so far?
We’ve had a great response from the community and we are very appreciative of how supportive they have been of our brands and team. They have been very excited by our desire to shake up some categories such as rum where the feedback has been that it has become quite tired of late, so looking to invest and drive trial again in this area is something that the community are looking to support. The Dead Man’s Fingers launch was testament to this as we actually ended up being over booked due to the weight of support for the brand already.
B&C: The spirits category is booming – what do you think is driving spirits growth in Australia?
LW: The trends around premiumisation, cocktails and consumers looking for new experiences is very much in line with other markets and its very positive as we have such a diverse portfolio and we are looking to encourage consumers to trial new categories and styles of drinks.
B&C: What key factors do you think the industry should be discussing in 2020?
LW: We very much see a trend in Hemp products coming through and so we are launching Dead Man’s Fingers Hemp in February as this has been a great success in other markets already. We are being approached regularly for this product in this market as well.
B&C: What 2020 predictions do you have in the spirits category on-premise?
LW: As with general trends we are seeing the Spritz serves developing further as well as serves with soda rather than tonic which opens up the gin category for significant growth opportunities.
B&C: What will be Halewood’s focus for the on-premise in 2020?
LW: Our core brand focus is Whitley Neill Gin, Ironbark Wattleseed and Cascara Gin, Dead Man’s Fingers Rum, JJ Whitley, Crabbie Yardhead Whisky and Pogues Irish Whiskey and this shows how broad our portfolio is so we are looking at ensuring we segment our offering according to each venue and group.
We very much want to continue to build on the start made by driving distribution and consumer trial in 2020. We are investing heavily in expanding our Spirit Specialist team, our Events team and supporting the trade who have already shown they are very supportive of our brands and plans for Australia.
This interview was originally conducted for National Liquor News’ 2020 Annual Industry Leaders Forum issue, out in February.