Confessions of a retailer: HK Liquor Store

HK Liquor Store co-­founder Zachary Chan discusses spirits sales in the Hong Kong market.

Zachary Chan, co-founder of HK Liquor Store
Zachary Chan, co-founder of HK Liquor Store

When did HK Liquor Store open?

We started as an online store in 2012, and opened our first physical location in July 2017. Our second opened in November 2017, and our third and largest will open this year.

How has the business changed in the past six years?

Trends in drinks are constantly evolving, and we have had to change with them. For example, when we started, wine was the go-­to drink for most of our customers, but as the wine trend slowed down, our consumers moved to whisky and gin.

How has the drinks offer at your store progressed?

We started as a wine and Champagne store, but as we got deeper into the drinks business, we realised that Hong Kong didn’t really have a retail store that carried a broad selection spirits.

What sort of products do you stock?

We have more than 2,000 items on our website and around 1,300­-1,400 products in our physical locations. In our online store, we work with a number of brand importers in Hong Kong to help market their brands and to create product awareness.

What is your bestselling product?

Japanese Whisky sold very well from 2015­-2016, but as the price has moved up, we are seeing consumers switch to Scotch or Bourbon. Also, gin has been gaining popularity for the past year, especially Monkey 47 – I would say that is the best premium gin we sell.

Do you have a favourite product on your shelves?

Rokeby’s Half Crown Gin is one of my favourites because it’s a very good base gin; it is both smooth and very citrusy. A lot of gin bars in Hong Kong use this gin to create infusions and cool cocktails.

Are there any products you wish you could stock?

I wish we could stock more vintage Japanese and Scotch whiskies, because people love these kinds of premium spirits.

How would you describe an average day at HK Liquor Store?

All the owners and I are quite hands­-on with the operation; from product sourcing to working in the back office, monitoring our online sales, changing the product mixes and moving pallets.

Do you host any events at the shops?

We often work with a brand ambassador to do tasting events and talks at our shops – we aim to host these events once or twice a month.

Who is the average HK Liquor Store customer?

Our average consumer ranges from late 20s into their 40s. We find that they have often studied abroad, where they might have developed a taste for different styles of spirits.

Have you noticed any other trends in your spirit sales?

Gin sales are on the rise and we expect that to continue for a few years. We are also starting to see Tequila and mezcal bars popping up in Hong Kong, as well as a pick-­up in the popularity of Bourbon.

Are online sales still important for HK Liquor Store?

Online sales are our reference point for consumer behaviours. We also expect them to be a major component in the growth of our business as Hong Kong is still in its infancy in online shopping.

What does the future hold for HK Liquor Store?

We are still planning for retail expansion in Hong Kong as we feel like we have only scratched the surface here. We believe that our shops can offer people in Hong Kong what they want, and we hope that the HK Liquor Store brand can one day become a household name in the area.


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Author: Owen Bellwood {authorlink}