Y&R stacks on The Mill

Y&R New Zealand’s Friday night drinks trolley will be well-stocked from now on because it’s picked up another new piece of business in the form of nationwide liquor retail chain The Mill. 

Y&R’s new managing director Steve Kane couldn’t discuss how much the account was worth to the agency, but he says it’s fairly significant and encompasses a transformation of the business and the brand (Nielsen AIS figures, which are based on ratecard, show The Mill was number two on the list of liquor retailers in terms of media spend, although spend went down from $2.8 million in 2011 to $2.1 million in 2013)

He says Y&R will act as The Mill’s full-service agency and work on store refits, retail and brand advertising, direct, digital social, CRM and media. 

This is an exciting time for both partners in this new relationship,” says Jeremy Livingston, chief executive of The Mill Retail Holdings in a release. “Together we have the opportunity to create a refreshingly different brand experience for liquor retail consumers. We are not underestimating the task ahead but the team is up for the challenge.”

The Mill opened its first store in Taranaki in 1993 and was owned by Christopher and Nyall Simkin before being purchased by Asahi-owned Independent Liquor last year. 

At the time of the purchase, Independent Liquor’s Julian Davidson told the NBR“Our intention is to drive competition and provide New Zealanders of legal drinking age with a better selection and range of products when they walk through the doors of a liquor store,” he says. “This is because of producer dominance in the retail channel, which can result in the destocking or blocking of some brands and product portfolios. We’ve experienced this first hand; it’s anti-competitive and should be challenged.”

And Livingston said it opened up the possibility of a “seven-figure” face-lift for the chain. 

“Part of our future plan is to refurbish the chain so as to lift retail standards and improve the shopping experience,” he said. “We are also looking at franchising the store network, which will provide local operators with the opportunity to develop their own stores under a strong national brand.”

Abbe Hale, general manager of Y&R, says the team has ambitious growth plans and recognises the power in building a great brand offering to fuel that growth.

“We look forward to helping them claim their place as New Zealand’s leading alcohol retail brand.”

Kane said Barnes, Catmur & Friends was the incumbent, but Daniel Barnes says it only worked on Independent Liquor’s alcohol brands and he was under the impression all the creative and media buying for The Mill was done in-house. 

And in other Y&R NZ news, Kane (and Vodafone’s Matt Williams) wouldn’t comment on the rumoured transition of the Vodafone media account from Spark PHD to Y&R, but it’s thought the handover process has begun. 

On the other side of the ledger, Y&R recently lost the Beds R Us account to Hotfoot. 

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