Liquor retail gets high street makeover

(This story originally appeared in on Feb 01, 2021)

NEW DELHI: At a time when brick-and-mortar showrooms in several segments are shrinking in size, liquor retail in India is getting a premium makeover with large-format stores cropping up in every nook and cranny.

From the 15,000sqft Tonique in Hyderabad and North India’s largest booze shop – The Liquor Warehouse in Gurugram – to the 5,000sqft boutique liquor chain Madhuloka in Bengaluru and World of Wines in Mumbai, spirits retail has come a long way from the dingy desi thekas of yesteryear.

“Our store will give any luxury showroom in India a run for its money,” said Anith Reddy, the owner of Tonique. “We have in-house connoisseurs, sommeliers and even female bouncers because 30% of our customers are women.”

Liquor retail gets high street makeover

With a 25,000sqft store in Bengaluru, Tonique rakes in more than Rs100 crore in sales from a store every year and has plans to expand to Delhi, Pune, Mumbai and smaller towns, which will have small-format stores. “We have plans to build a 40,000sqft store in Delhi and are watching the excise condition closely,” Reddy told TOI.

Lokesh Madhuloka, MD at Madhuloka, one of Bengaluru’s largest modern-retail format liquor chains, said, the trend has boomed in the last couple of years. “There are at least 450 similar stores in Bengaluru currently. The market is saturated,” he said. An increase in demand for premium spirits and the need to cater to a young swish clientele that prefers to avoid the jostling at local alcohol shops has given rise to more such stores.

“Companies are witnessing a strengthening of demand for premium spirits,” said Neeraj Kumar, MD at Beam Suntory. “With most consumption currently taking place at home, the wealthy consumer is willing to invest in luxury brands.” Large-format stores have also helped these spirits retailers rake in more moolah. The retailers’ ability to showcase a wider selection combined with the willingness of liquor companies to bring more global brands into India have led to growth in revenues.

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