A publicly-listed, major liquor retailing chain is to be launched in Australia next week, with the aim of becoming a third major player in the industry.With an initial 35 stores in Victoria and Western Australia, the company, Australian Liquor Group (ALG), is looking to mount a challenge to the 400-store empires of supermarket giants, Coles Myer and Woolworths.ALG, headed by fourth-generation Melbourne liquor retailer Philip Murphy, is expected to list on the Australian Stock Exchange by Friday.It has raised $A20 million in a fully-subscribed issue of $1 shares, which account for 46% of stock. The other 54% are held by foundation shareholders, ‘seed’ investors and store-owners who have sold to ALG.It will initially have 21 stores in Perth, 11 in Melbourne and three in Sydney. Twenty-three of these will be called Philip Murphy Wine & Spirit stores, which currently operate as a seven-outlet chain in Melbourne.The other 12 outlets will be Knox stores, based on an existing, small, 50-year-old Perth chain, which specialises in low-margin alcohol.ALG managing director Philip Murphy says that the company is aiming to quickly acquire another 20 stores, some of which have been selected.He said that the Philip Murphy chain strategy of offering a large range of fine wines via highly trained staff would be continued along with a ‘tremendously successful’, six-year-old loyalty program which had 140,000 members and which was predicted to grow to 500,000 members within 18 months.Chris Snow

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