Liquor giant swallows Taranaki retailer

JOHN ANTHONY
Last updated 05:00 21/05/2013
The Mill Liquorsave bought by Independent Liquor
CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ
CHANGE OF HANDS: Independent Liquor has agreed to buy The Mill later this year. From left, Independent Liquor CEO Julian Davidson, The Mill's co-owner and founder, Chris Simkin, incoming CEO Jeremy Livingston and GM Bevan Seddon at The Mill's original store in New Plymouth.

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A nationwide liquor outlet chain started by two Taranaki brothers will be bought by Auckland alcohol maker Independent Liquor.

The Mill's co-owner and founder, Chris Simkin, said an agreement had been reached for Independent Liquor to buy The Mill Liquorsave for an undisclosed sum. The sale was expected to be confirmed by mid-year.

The buildings and the properties were not included in the sale.

Mr Simkin and his brother, Nyall Simkin, first opened The Mill in Powderham St in New Plymouth in 1993.

The idea was to create an independent liquor chain with a cross-section of products which was something of a rarity back then, he said.

The brothers hoped The Mill would be a regional success, little expecting that it would take off throughout New Zealand, he said. It has 35 outlets nationwide.

Independent Liquor chief executive Julian Davidson said under its new ownership The Mill would focus on increasing its brand selection, not price discounting.

"It's really not about cheap booze, that's the last thing we want to do," Mr Davidson said.

The sale would go ahead once the transfer of leases had been confirmed, he said.

Mr Davidson said the decision to buy The Mill was aimed at increasing competition in the liquor retail market.

Independent Liquor would shift The Mill's focus away from the lucrative ready-to-drink market and move towards beer markets as well as introduce more of its competitors' brands, he said.

This was Independent Liquor's first foray into the retail market since it was established 25 years ago.

The Mill's incoming chief executive, Jeremy Livingston, said Independent Liquor would spend "a seven-figure sum" giving The Mill's 35 stores a facelift.

It also planned on franchising the stores, he said.

Independent Liquor was a market leader in the emergence of Australasia's RTD market.

It also brews international beer brands such as Carlsberg and Kingfisher under licence.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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