Albert Wines & Spirits: Malaysia's trusted importer embraces three decades of change & challenges
October 16, 2021
EDKL: Congratulations on next year's 30th anniversary. How will you celebrate the milestone?
Albert: For the time being, we'll wait and see. We haven't planned yet - too many things have happened in the past one year! With the new norm, we cannot be doing something big yet.
EDKL: When Albert Wines & Spirits first started, the company's customers were mainly businesses like hotels and restaurants. How has that changed, especially in view of the past year?
David: That will always be the main business of the company. But luckily, when the MCO was enforced last year, we had our e-commerce platform already set up. By then, we had been selling on the platform, Albertwines2u, for about six months, so we were pretty much ready.
Business took a big hit on our standard trade of hotels and restaurants. But we've seen a lot of growth and interest in our e-commerce platform, even until now.
EDKL: How do you stand out amid the many platforms in KL that now offer wine deliveries?
Albert: Reputation is very important - it's what makes the company special.
Consumers now feel it’s more convenient to buy online. So we must be different, by putting our faces and names out there, to give confidence to the consumer. For us, it's very important for the consumer to know who they're buying from.
David: Some platforms sell at an incredibly low price. But when you try to contact them, it's only a WhatsApp number. No owner's name, no address - it can be very dodgy, especially in F&B and alcohol.
With us, customers can be confident and trust the source of the products. Everything we have are 100% genuine products that we import and distribute. We fully pay taxes and duties, we have full transparency. This is our guarantee.
We always try to be competitively priced - but if you dig enough, you can always find cheaper prices elsewhere. If it's too cheap though, there might be something wrong, like the quality of the product.
For us, we have our own products, our own key brands. We are the official appointed distributors by Edrington for Macallan whisky, for example - it’s a sign of confidence from those brands.
We have customers who come back for many, many years because they know the quality of our product is genuine and there Is no risk. We have live chats on our website, WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook, email, to talk to our customers.
EDKL: Beyond e-commerce, what other major changes have you seen in these 30 years?
Albert: We've seen new products, people willing to try new things as the new generations come in.
My father's generation drank brandy. My generation is baby boomers, drinking whisky. Today's generation is more willing to explore, gin, different spirits - it makes things a lot more interesting.
David: The boom we're seeing is the gin market used to be a very traditional market, like whisky. Gin is always a bit of a discovery - we've just launched a Chinese gin, the Peddlers Shanghai Craft Gin, and have been promoting it. If the product is good, people will always return for it.
David: We've offered cocktail packs on our platform - make your own cocktails or Mojitos at home. Buy one pack and get two or three bottles of different spirits. This month, we've just launched a new collection of Spooky Halloween Cocktails.
Albert: We want to offer more education, which we can do online, especially for younger consumers. Not everyone can afford to visit hotels and pay RM300 to RM500 for dinner. So we try to reach them to provide more knowledge on whatever they want to learn, about Australian wines, French wines, whatever.
Albert: There's always opportunity. Think out of the box and do something different. People want change, with new tastes, different bottles and packaging. So we need to keep on moving.
Chateau de Beaucastel-Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Torres 'Mas La Plana' Cabernet Sauvignon
De Bortoli 'Windy Peak' Heathcote Shiraz
Chateau Laroze - St Emilion Grand Cru 2010
Miguel Torres 'Manso de Velasco' Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon