Economic, Savings & Investing :: Money news

Coles takes on aldi with cheap awardwinning wine


´╗┐WINE snobs on a budget are the winners in the latest battle between Coles and Aldi.

The supermarket giants liquor arm is gearing up to take on the German discounter with private label plonk, after Aldi won over drinkers with a slew of awards.

A $5 bottle of red sold exclusively at Coles was yesterday named as the best wine under $20 from Australia and New Zealand at the Winestate Wine of the Year Awards.

The James Busby Big & Bold Shiraz 2015 was chosen from a field of 10,000 wines by a panel of expert judges that included Australian wine industry legend Wolf Blass.

It was the cheapest wine ever to win the award, and the first time a home brand took the honours.

It was a shock and there was a fair bit of mirth when it was revealed the Coles wine won,’ Winestate publisher and head of the judging panel Peter Simic told The Australian. We have never seen anything like it.’

Now Coles is looking at expanding its private label wine range to compete with Aldi, which has lured wine lovers with its surprisingly high-performing budget booze.

Since branching out into liquor in 2003, the German supermarket chain has grown its wine business at 10 times the industry rate.

Six of its low-cost wines received gongs at last years Sydney International Wine Competition, including a $5 private label rose that became a customer favourite.

Coles, which sells alcohol through its Liquorland, Vintage Cellars, First Choice and Liquor Market outlets, is playing catch-up. The retailer wants to grow its private label portfolio from the current 10 to 20 per cent of brands currently stocked, its head of wine sourcing Ed Ashley told Fairfax Media.

WE DIDNT RESPECT ALDI

It comes as rival Woolworths beefs up its private label range of everyday grocery items, with so-called phantom products that match Aldis approach of leaving the supermarkets name off its home brands.

Woolworths chairman Gordon Cairns yesterday admitted the retailer had initially failed to take the discount chain seriously when it arrived in Australia 15 years ago.

We were somewhat lackadaisical in responding to the threat from Aldi that is no longer the case, Mr Cairns said during the groups annual general meeting.

But he said Woolies own-brand products now matched Aldis prices, and that it had regained its lead in fresh food after temporarily losing its mantle to Coles.

Alcohol was named as one of the retailers top five priorities for its turnaround, with its $484-million-a-year Endeavour Drinks Group which includes Dan Murphys and BWS one of the only segments to grow its earnings in the last financial year.

Chief executive Brad Banducci echoed Mr Cairns view of Aldi after shareholders expressed concern about Woolworths having not kept up with the competition.

We didnt treat Aldi with the respect they deserved as a very successful global retailer, Mr Banducci said. We have done a lot of work on our own brands.

He said the group initially matched its entry-level Home Brand product prices with Aldis prices but it didnt move the dial until Woolworths began phasing out Home Brand and redesigning and expanding its Essentials brand last year.

With AAP

Want to gift wine like a master this holiday season? Charles Curtis, master of wine and former head of wine for Christie's, joins Lunch Break with three fine wines at three affordable price points for everyone on your list. Photo: Getty Images.

Patrick stewart defends gay cake bakery


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VETERAN actor and gay rights activist Patrick Stewart has defended a Christian bakery which was found guilty of discrimination for refusing to bake a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan.

Last month, a judge ruled that Ashers Baking Company in Northern Ireland had discriminated against a gay customer by refusing to make a cake with the words support gay marriage, along with a picture of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street.

Gareth Lee commissioned the cake for an event to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The bakery initially accepted the order but called Mr Lee two days later to cancel.

Speaking to the BBCs Newsnight program, Stewart, who starred in the Star Trek TV show, said he supported the rights of the bakery to refuse something which they found personally offensive.

Finally I found myself on the side of the bakers, he said. It was not because this was a gay couple they objected, it was not because they were going to be celebrating some kind of marriage, it was the actual words on the cake they objected to, they found them offensive.

I would support their right to say, No, this is personally offensive to my beliefs, I [will] not do it. But I feel bad for them that it cost them [500] quid.

In handing down her decision, Judge Isobel Brownlie said the refusal not to make the cake was direct discrimination for which there can be no justification.

My finding is that the defendants cancelled this order as they oppose same-sex marriage for the reason that they regard it as sinful and contrary to their genuinely-held religious beliefs, Judge Brownlie said.

Same-sex marriage is inextricably linked to sexual relations between same-sex couples, which is a union of persons having a particular sexual orientation. The plaintiff did not share the particular religious and political opinion which confines marriage to heterosexual orientation.

The defendants are not a religious organisation. They are conducting a business for profit and, notwithstanding their genuine religious beliefs, there are no exceptions available under the 2006 regulations which apply to this case.

The McArthur family was fined 500 ($A1000), which Mr Lee said he would donate to charity, but the McArthurs said they would appeal the decision.

At the time, Ashers general manager Daniel McArthur said he was extremely disappointed with the judgement.

Our issue was with the message on the cake, not with the customer, and we didnt know what the sexual orientation of Mr Lee was, and it wasnt relevant either, he said.

The ruling suggests that all business owners will have to be willing to promote any cause or campaign, no matter how much they disagree with it.

He told The Independent the company didnt want to be forced to promote a cause which was against their biblical beliefs.

Weve had a lot of support from people who disagree with our stance on same-sex marriage. They think that we should have the freedom to decline an order that conflicts with our conscience.

The case followed another gay-cake incident in January, when a US woman was taken to court for refusing to write God hates gays on a bible-shaped cake for a customer.

Marjorie Silva, the owner of Denvers Azucar Bakery, faced the complaint from a customer alleging she discriminated against his religious beliefs.

And last year, a US Civil Rights Commission upheld a discrimination case against baker who had refused to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples.