Business venture

inside Michael Clarke’s latest lucrative venture

In the world of premium spirits and craft beverages, market disruption is never far behind. This is most certainly the case for online beer, wine and liquor sales which saw a massive surge in demand during the pandemic lockdown when bars and pubs were forced to close.

According to data from IbisWorld, Australia’s online alcohol market was worth A$1.8 billion (US$1.3 billion) in 2021. Its forecast growth rate was 27.2% for the same year. Meanwhile, in the United States, online alcohol sales were valued at US$8.8 billion in 2021, according to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis.

“Growing up in Liverpool, I have always had a connection to Western Sydney, so I am extremely proud to represent this community by sharing our exceptional brands and products with the country.”

All of these lucrative numbers point to one thing: an explosion of online retail platforms cashing in on this new drinking trend. One such Australia-based company is Australian Boutique Spirits (ABS), a family-run distillery in western Sydney set to break into the market with its latest direct-to-consumer platform, Bevmart.

As ABS nears the end of its initial public offering, which is expected to reach A$10 million ($7.4 million) through Australian and international private capital and select high-net-worth investors, another partnership strategic materialized to complete their initial public offering on the ASX in the first quarter of 2022 – retired Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke.

“While celebrity relationships allow brands to get exposure in new markets and reach more customers, my goal in partnering with Bevmart was to bring more than who I am. I have an investment staff in the company and I believe in the product,” Clarke said exclusively. CEO magazine.

Disrupt the beverage trade

Behind Clarke’s celebrity status, Raj Beri, who is the founder of ABS and Bevmart, holds his own repertoire in the startup scene. Beri is a serial entrepreneur in the spirits industry, having founded Elegance Brands, a leading US direct-to-consumer beverage company that raised over A$30 million (US$22 million) in capital in 2020 , with Europa Group, CannHealth Group and others. This beverage industry experience is built on a track record of bringing genuine, innovative and exciting products to Australian and US markets, almost exclusively through the popular direct-to-consumer model. As a seasoned poker enthusiast, the fierce competition in the market doesn’t seem to bother him.

“My vision with Bevmart was to create a customer-centric marketplace for a suite of brands, exclusively imported or manufactured by ABS, but with a direct focus on convenience and the customer journey,” says Beri.

“All current and future brands will be exclusive to ABS and positioned in our own market, Bevmart, ensuring that we can use our own tactics for customer engagement and retention while building respective brand equity across various offerings. lifestyle oriented.

This means that customers will have exclusive access to drinks such as rapper Drake’s Virginia Black Whiskey and Mod Sélection champagne. It’s a smart move, one that should set Beri’s business apart from the rest as it continues to roll out an impressive roster of celebrities expected to be revealed by Bevmart over the next six months to boost their premium offering.

I am a passionate Aussie and like to stay true to my roots having also grown up in Western Sydney. My family immigrated to Australia with a few thousand dollars and four suitcases in the early 1990s.

What’s more interesting is Beri’s eye for spotting market gaps in an industry controlled by big names. How did he determine there was an international market for Australian-based spirits so early with ABS?

“As a spirits collector, spirits judge and a huge fan of small-batch artisanal quality, I have always believed that ABS produces products of exceptional quality. However, the difficulty most quality producers face is that they fail to take their artisanal offerings and turn them into ‘brands’,” he says.

“ABS focuses on both craft liquids and building targeted brand equity with the respective consumer in mind. In my travels, such as after moving to the United States, I have found that most American and global consumers have a very positive view of Australia and a desire to try Australian handcrafted products, which makes me led to imagining brands that we could create at ABS and bring them to the world.”

The most sentimental part of this successful business trip is Beri’s personal connection to western Sydney, the location of Bevmart’s operations and a far cry from his current attributes of sunny Beverly Hills, California.

“I am a passionate Australian and like to stay true to my roots having also grown up in Western Sydney. My family immigrated to Australia with a few thousand dollars and four suitcases in the early 1990s. Australia gave us offered incredible life-changing opportunities, so by growing a family business, employing other Australians and promoting our brands to the world, we are also contributing as a family to the Australian economy as a whole.

“Over the past 20 years I’ve seen Australian manufacturing disappear in many industries, but in the alcohol industry consumers love the ‘Brand Australia’ story and are willing to pay extra for the quality, not to mention that there is little risk of losing such an industry to cheaper imports.

Clarke also being born and raised in working class Western Sydney, the partnership was a natural fit for both parties.

“Growing up in Liverpool, I have always had a connection to Western Sydney, so I am extremely proud to represent this community by sharing our exceptional brands and products with the country,” says Clarke.

The power of fame

The allure of celebrity association isn’t a new concept in corporate marketing, but it’s clear that Beri and her team are taking a more carefully curated approach in an effort to expand Bevmart’s social footprint. with very influential personalities.

“As ABS is a young company in its infancy, we need to be able to successfully market our business and our range of brands,” says Beri.

“The partnership with Clarkey was natural; he was connected to me through a friend and after some discussion he and I shared a lot of similar values ​​which led him to become an investor and ambassador for our brands. Clarkey’s fame [status] will bring great awareness to our company, but he’s not the only celebrity we’re actively talking to – there are several others, including an Oscar winner.

Clarke is more reserved when talking about her alignment within this celebrity collective.

“I have a personal investment in the company and I believe in the product. In the six years since my retirement, it’s the first liquor brand I’ve affiliated with commercially, which I think speaks to the genuineness of our partnership. So for a celebrity lineup to work, it’s imperative that the relationship be genuine and based on shared values.

“The decision to partner with Bevmart and ABS was easy with many alignments that made sense,” he adds. “It’s an Australian family business with an incredible range of products, and as a team we are bound by the common interest of bringing our Western Sydney distillery to the world. The company has a strong track record and an exciting future in the pipeline, I couldn’t be prouder to be part of the journey while representing the community I was born and raised in.

The strategic secret of success

Given Beri’s alternate ego as a seasoned poker player outside of work, there will naturally be suggestions about the correlation between risk taking, straight faces and business success.

“Any good poker player will tell you that your poker strategy is the most important aspect of the game. Players lose in the long run, but poker players with a defined strategy win in the long run,” he says.

“The same applies in business: you can take risks in the short term, which may not work in the short term, but with a defined vision and strategy as a resilient and eager entrepreneur, you will gain in long term.”

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