OTR granted permission to sell liquor through its app

South Australia’s largest convenience retailer OTR has been granted permission by the South Australian Liquor Licensing Court to sell alcohol through its OTRApp.

In its original application to the state’s liquor commissioner, which was knocked back earlier this year, OTR cited that “the demand and expectations of the public to be able to obtain products (including liquor) without the need to attend a physical store has accelerated and increased due to a desire for safe purchasing environments and social distancing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

OTR stated that its existing OTRApp would be updated and modified to enable liquor sales to occur and “will include appropriate age verification measures and warnings in respect of the responsible consumption of liquor”.

Its application for a liquor license asserted that there are a number of existing major convenience stores and petrol stations – the likes of Coles and Woolworths – already operating in the liquor market in South Australia.

But Commissioner Dini Soulio denied the application, saying “I am of the view that this poses a significant risk to the community by including liquor as a daily convenience item to be ordered together with other daily purchases such as coffee, Subway and Krispy Kremes as are available at OTR.

“I accept that liquor will not be available for collection in-store, however I don’t think this detracts from my concerns regarding the frequency of exposure and normalisation of liquor purchases to users of the OTRApp”.

Commissioner Soulio’s decision was overturned this week in a judgement published by the Licensing Court of South Australia, with Judge BP Gilchrist granting OTR a direct sales license.

In a statement obtained by C&I, an OTR spokesperson said that OTR has no immediate plans to begin selling alcohol, but it welcomes the decision made by the South Australian Liquor Licensing Court to allow the sale of alcohol through the OTRApp.

“OTR has no immediate plans to commence alcohol sales. However, the decision provides the company with the certainty to plan how and when to provide these products in future,” they said.

Over the past couple of years, the petrol and convenience industry has been evolving and adapting to the changes in the way Australians are using the channel. This has been done through an increased focus on food and hot coffee, as well as introducing new revenue streams where possible, including the sale of non-alcoholic beverages in-store.

Theo Foukkare, AACS CEO, told C&I that while we’re in the midst of the convenience industry transforming to the local ‘one stop shop’, it makes complete sense to future proof their business.

“Opening up additional revenue streams to meet consumer needs will be critical to the industries survival and red tape reduction to explore those opportunities is part of that,” says Foukkare.

“The need for competition in the off-premise packaged alcohol space is apparent, and we welcome the opportunity for the likes of OTR and parent company Peregrine, who have been selling age gated products responsibly for decades, to enter this space,” Foukkare added.

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