Beer Cartel partners with First Choice

Beer Cartel founders Geoff Huens and Richard Kelsey

Beer Cartel founders Geoff Huens and Richard Kelsey

A selection of mixed beer packs created by retailer Beer Cartel will be made available through Coles’ First Choice Liquor Market.

In a media release Beer Cartel advised that under the partnership the packs would initially be available to online customers in New South Wales before expanding to other states.

Co-founder Richard Kelsey told Brews News that he hoped the partnership will grow beyond the First Choice Liquor Market in New South Wales.

“As a starting point we are selling through their online store in New South Wales, and it will be sent directly from their warehouse,” he said.

“And then over time, the aim is to then look at having merchandise in their First Choice liquor stores and then, hopefully, over time broaden that out even further to be in Liquorland and Vintage Cellars as well.”

He said that New South Wales was just a starting point.

“We’re looking at going into the eastern seaboard states this side of Christmas and then branching out from there,” he said.

“It’s all about testing and making sure that we’ve got everything working, both ourselves and First Choice, and then we can grow it from there.”

In a media release, the companies said that, at its full potential, the partnership could see Beer Cartel packs ranged in more than 930 Liquorland, First Choice Liquor Market and Vintage Cellars stores, as well as online.

With many of the beers in the Beer Cartel packs already available through First Choice Liquor Market, Kelsey said the partnership was based on his company’s skill at developing mixed packs.

“If you take our Birthday Box for example, it’s not a product that they currently range,” he said.

“They’ve always said that they’re very good at selling product, but certainly not very good at coming up with these kinds of mixed packs, which is where our skill set is.

“So utilising that skill set and what they’re good at and bringing the two together.”

Kelsey said Beer Cartel had developed skill had been in developing gift boxes that look good and sell reasonably well, but that he wasn’t concerned that the partnership would see the Coles-owned business learn from them.

“Potentially, I guess for us, it’s looking at the kind of the bigger picture and that the opportunity that we can have with partnering with them,” he said.

“There’s always a risk but it’s also going, ‘what is the benefit of it?’ and trying to weigh those two things together.”

Kelsey said that while many beer gift box businesses had started over the 14 years Beer Cartel had operated, it’s a challenging business to operate in.

“You can make a gift pack, but it’s also being able to sell it,” he said.

“You have the skills to make sure that your product is found, and that it’s found by enough people that you’re actually going to sell enough volume to keep going and then being able to do it at a sort of profitable rate.

“I think one of the challenges that we’ve seen with a lot of businesses that have come and gone is that they’re able to get sales, but not necessarily enough volume to ensure that they’ve got a business that keeps going.”

Founded in 2009, Beer Cartel has established itself as a leading, if small, retailer of specialty online beers and gift packs.

Late last year the company announced it was closing its bricks and mortar store to transition to an online-only model.

Brews News spoke with Beer Cartel founders Richard Kelsey and Geoff Huens earlier this year to discuss the company’s 2022 results and outlook.

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