Drinkers fail to log on to Internet booze wholesalers

TWO WA attempts to use the Internet to revolutionise the WA liquor industry have fallen foul of poor investor sentiment.

Creditors put independent wholesaler Liquorspot into the hands of the liquidators last week, while Wells Gold Corp has decided to shelve its investment in favour of developing its winery.

Liquorspot was established last year by Wayne Carew-Reid, amid the hype of the Internet boom, to take on the incumbent players Carringtons and Mr Carew-Reid’s former employer, Australian Liquor Marketers.

But recent attempts to raise funding failure and unsecured creditors owed around $2 million voted to wind up the company, a move that will probably result in a payout of 30 cents in the dollar according to liquidator Chris Williamson from Hall Chadwick.

Last week, Wells Gold announced it was buying partner West Coast Liquor out of their joint venture and planning to shut down the fledgling B2C operation.

The company is putting its energies into a winery operation, ending an exclusive arrangement with West Coast Liquor to sell its Partners label, the Telethon wine.

Instead, chief executive Ross Hancock said Wells Gold had not been pleased with the direction of the arrangement with West Coast Liquor and had decided to open up access to the product to all retailers.

Partners is made at its Swan Valley-based West Swan Wineries, where the company is now planning to develop the tourism side of the business,

“Foot traffic at the (nearby) chocolate factory, even at this time of year, is quite substantial,” Mr Hancock said.

“I think the Swan Valley gets overlooked at times because of the focus on the Margaret River.”

West Coast Liquor head Laurie Hurley said the market was not yet ready for the Liquorhome concept but the software, which had cost at least $600,000 to develop, could be used in the future when Internet usage had risen.

“You could use it for any retailer,” said Mr Hurely, who planned to remain a Wells Gold stakeholder.

“The model is still there and the software is still there.”

He said the failure of well-funded Internet enterprises like Wineplanet had prompted Wells Gold to reconsider its business plan.

Promoting the site could have cost as much as $500,000.

“Rather than spending money on marketing they decided to put it on the back burner.”

“Sometimes it is more courageous to nip things in the bud.”

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