Wal-Mart Stacking Beer in Aisles to Double Alcohol Sales

on 09/08/13 at 10:02 am

Industry

a.aaa-Walmart-Beer-Train-On-SaleLast September, 500 representatives from the alcohol industry gathered at the Sam’s Club auditorium in Bentonville, Arkansas, for an “adult beverage summit.”

Attendees, some of whom had never been to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT:US)’s headquarters, learned how serious the retailer was about selling more alcohol. Executives, who included Chief Merchandising Officer Duncan Mac Naughton, told the gathering they wanted to double sales by 2016.

In the year since, the world’s largest retailer has focused as never before on beer — a U.S. category worth about $45 billion — and has moved aggressively to grab market share. The company has doubled the number of alcohol buyers to 12 and offered discounts on a range of brands, from mainstream Coors to such craft beers as Deschutes. It ditched slow-selling products to make way for beer and is even selling it in garden centers. New stores are designed to put the suds front and center.

“We’re seeing dramatic increases in sales,” said Steve Bailey, who attended the summit as vice president of chain accounts for Columbia Distributing, which supplies beer to about 90 Wal-Mart stores in Washington and Oregon. That “has pushed us to pay more attention to Wal-Mart.”

FULL STORY