Australian Newsagency Blog

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Disappointing move by Darrell Lea into Woolworths

Mark Fletcher
November 28th, 2010 · 38 Comments

dl-woolworths.JPGI have been thinking through the move by Darrell Lea to place their liquorice in Woolworths supermarkets.  It does not make sense to me.  Darrell Lea has been demanding of their licencees for many years, requiring that their product be displayed in Darrell Lea fixtures to respect the brand and requiring that we take a minimum range of product and not just top sellers.

There are many rules, rules which most newsagents have embraced because they want the point of difference that carrying the Darrell Lea brand brings.

Given that liquorice is the stand our top seller for Darrell Lea, newsagents and other Darrell Lea stockists have lost the point of difference.

While we will still sell Darrell Lea to our shoppers, there will be some who stop buying.  These are the regular (pun intended) customers who stop by each week for their bag of Darrell Lea liquorice and nothing else.

This move by Darrell Lea is like the move by newspaper publishers and magazine publishers into supermarkets and other retail channels.  They still require us to adhere to rules which they ignore for their new retail buddies.  We are restricted in what we can do while the new channels have more control – with magazines especially.  The rules for us versus them make us less competitive.

Darrell Lea are doing what they think is right for their business.  Good luck to them.  As a Darrell Lea stockist I am left wondering about all of their preaching for many years about the respect they want from retailers for their brand.  Going into a mass network like Woolworths throws all that preaching out the window.

I saw their liquorice in two Woolworths supermarkets yesterday.  It was lost in a sea of candy and treated the same as the cheap liquorice next to it.  Back at my newsagency, Darrell Lea continues to be treated as a hero product, situated on the Darrell Lea required wood stand and located in just about the best position in-store.

It feels like Darrell Lea does not respect its long standing retail partners.


Category: confectionary · Newsagency challenges · Ugh!

38 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Luke // Nov 28, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    I Have commented here that I could not get Darrell Lea into my store for love or money after many yrs of trying, however now I just go to woolies buy it off the shelf at the quantity I want and put my own price on it. Customers are happy and I do not have to deal with a company that wants to think it is all mighty. I am looking forward to getting the Fathers day packs the same way, you do not think they are stopping at liquorice do you.
    The chemist next door is upset that they still need minimum orders per month and all the crap range whereas I will only stock the fast movers. It’s good that the shoe is on the other foot for once.
    I have promised myself that I will never again get caught up in long term supply agreements as these always turn out bad for me once the supplier wants to go to the majors.


  • 2 MAX // Nov 28, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    Pity the liquorice put into Woolworths is of a lower quality.


  • 3 allan wickham // Nov 28, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    My Darrell Lea Rep told us that Max, the liquorice is not the same as we sell apparently. It then does leave the question of “Why Bother”?. I agree with Mark, all this move can do is cheapen the brand. Will a customer buy a Woolies bag of liquorice and take it home and when they taste it say “gee i remember Darrell Lea liqourice was better than this”. Will it then have people thinking that is what the Darrell Lea liqourice has become?
    Have to wait and see i suppose…..but should we have to explain the difference to people either????


  • 4 Luke // Nov 28, 2010 at 12:14 PM

    What the customer will see is the Brand, and that other retailers are expensive compared to Woolies.
    Allan did you ask your rep why they are stocking cheap crap in woolies and you are getting the so called Good stuff, its a good excuse to keep some stockist happy, but the customer will not see it this way.


  • 5 eric // Nov 28, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    Luke, Darrel lea has been offering me to put their stand many times, but i never consider to provide them any space in my store.
    iam not a fan of darell lea nor their business policy since long time ago. good luck to people who still stock them.


  • 6 Steve // Nov 28, 2010 at 11:55 PM

    Unfortunately it’s what happens to a good brand and good business when you let the Marketing department takeover…no difference to their deal done with Caltex which sacrificed the need for traditional fixtures and fittings just to get the product into the market.
    No doubt the brand will suffer from overexposure and will lose the value and integrity that it had fought for so long to maintain. Sad really…


  • 7 Peter // Nov 29, 2010 at 9:16 AM


    I blogged the other day that Darrell Lea was going into the 61 IGA’s owned by the one guy in QLD.

    Our state rep was in last week and told us that they will be stocking a liquorice with more preservatives and a longer shelf life that our…

    Reason – they could not expect a big chain to dedicate te time to continually restocking, discounting and reordering with short shelf lifes – but they can expect us to?

    Dareel Lea are now prostituting their brand and will loose their poin of differentiation soon… Who knows may be worth investigating getting Choclataire in to replace…



  • 8 Sarah // Nov 29, 2010 at 10:28 AM

    Can I advise you against buying the products in Woolworths only to sell them in your shop. All you are doing is giving Woolworths sales and showing Darrell Lea that the move has been worthwhile. As a Darrell Lea stockist I would encourage you to look into other points of difference such as Ernest Hillier as the Darrell Lea brand is not strong any more.
    As a Darrell Lea stockist I am working very hard to distance myself from the cheap Woolworths liquorice. Considering Darrell Lea call themselves the Taste Place the Woolies liquorice lacks taste!


  • 9 Luke // Nov 29, 2010 at 2:18 PM

    Sarah, I have tried and tried again to get Darrell Lea because that is what my customer ask for, so if I cannot get them direct then I’ll get it from somewhere and make my money where I can without being expensive.
    If you think the brand is not strong anymore then maybe you should get out of stocking it.
    I get a lot of stock from the supermarkets because I can buy smaller amounts and also their prices are less then what I pay from my suppliers for some things examples are coke cans, choc bars, copy paper, water.


  • 10 mary // Nov 29, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    Luke you will find that by selling the supermarket licorice you will be the one stuck with the complaints.
    If you are so desperate make a deal with the chemist next door that stocks the good product.
    Did you really think you could get Darrel Lea with someone so close already selling it?


  • 11 Luke // Nov 29, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    Mary we have been trying to get it for 3 yrs and the chemist next door only got it 6 months ago through a group deal. So much for not wanting to flood the market.
    The reason customers come to me is that the chemist next door is full of drug addicts and the service is crap, so they come to me for good, fast service without the hassle.
    We have also asked the chemist to split stock but they want to keep it themselves, so I will get it by other means.
    If anyone has a problem with me getting stock for my customers then maybe you should be having a go at Darrell Lea for stocking Woolies in the first place, but maybe they will tell you lies about quality and still stock the supermarkets. The problem is that we tried to get stock direct but they didn’t want to have competition, now they are happy to stock supermarkets, it’s them that have done the dirty on the current stockist not me.


  • 12 June // Nov 29, 2010 at 3:33 PM

    I cannot believe some of you guys buying from a coles/woolies store to stock in your own store – DON’T YOU THINK YOU’RE MAKING THEM WEALTHIER AND MORE POWERFUL. I would NEVER buy from another retailer to stock in my store and I have a son who is an officeworks store manager and he often tells me about cheap paper etc and why don’t I buy some and I give him the same answer.
    Shame on you guys.


  • 13 Luke // Nov 29, 2010 at 3:51 PM

    Are you serious June, sometimes the supermarkets are cheaper then we can get from our own suppliers GNS included, so maybe you should be telling GNS, coca cola, Cadbury, and all the rest shame on them for charging us so much in the first place.

    Don’t be so quick to judge others by your own standards, because maybe you are not so high and mighty yourself.


  • 14 Y&G // Nov 29, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    The fact is, June and Mary and Sarah, we small stores simply don’t have stocks available to us in the low quantities we can be sure of selling.
    Please don’t judge us because it’s cheaper for us to go to the supermarket, or other retailers, when the wholesale option for groceries and stationery for us actually screws us pretty hard. There is no way we could make anything much given the premium we pay for being what we are, particularly when the big shop up the road sells their same items cheaper than what we can get them for.
    As for Darrel Lea, they don’t deserve support for their ‘good stuff’, when they so shamelessly palm off their brand with shitty stuff for supermarkets. IMO, they’ve probably done irreparable damage to their reputation in that one low act.

    Never mind our local tobacco wholesaler (a virtual monopoly around here) buying up big in supermarkets so they can sell coke cans for $1.
    Even they need to supplement their core business.


  • 15 Peter // Nov 29, 2010 at 6:29 PM


    A lot of people have gone broke with morals… and a lot of people have become wealthy without. The key is to find the middle ground..

    If I can buy something for .50c and sell for $1.30, or buy from the elsewhere for .90c and stillsell for $1.30 I know ehre I am going



  • 16 Carol // Nov 30, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    Darrel Lea is in Caltex on the end of a stand with other confectionary


  • 17 Ads // Nov 30, 2010 at 10:42 AM

    Just informed this morning, Darrell Lea has entered into an relationship with Terry White Chemists (145 stores nationally) to stock their goods. We have a Terry White dirrectly oposite us! Rang Darrell Lea and told them to come get their stock!


  • 18 Samuel // Dec 1, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    Well said Mark. I am writing to Darrell Lea to cancel my agreement.


  • 19 Terese // Dec 1, 2010 at 2:29 PM

    Good old Australia Post strikes again at the heart of private enterprise by offering free DVD rentals (43,000 titles) free delivery –
    Eating away again at another industry not supported by taxation dollars – they are becoming as big a cancer as Woolworths and Coles


  • 20 andy // Dec 1, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    Mark what is thedifferance in having to supply subagents if you dont think ther is a need and darrell lea going into woolworths and the like?


  • 21 Mark // Dec 1, 2010 at 7:52 PM

    Andy, I don;t get your point. But let me try…

    Darrell Lea has had strict rulesa round their brand for years. I and many stockists have lived with and respected these. In the wave of a pen Darrell Lea has thrown the rules out for Woolworths and Terry White.

    Sub Agents deserve on time access to newspapers and magazines if the newsagent has adequate stock.

    I don’t see the connection.


  • 22 david // Dec 2, 2010 at 7:57 AM

    I have written to Darrell Lea that they can come and pick up their stock. The Terry White pharmacy directly opposity me is getting the same display unit I have.


  • 23 maureen // Oct 28, 2013 at 2:59 AM

    after buying the liquorice in australia many times and also bringing home boxes for that time you could not buy it in you can buy it anyware but it is not the same as you buy in australia.i think it has an added ingredient to prolong the life.can anybody tell me how i can buy it direct,


  • 24 allan wickham // Oct 28, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    Maureen, Batch 37 liquorice used to have a 3 week shelf life. Batch 37 now has about 6 months, it cant be the same yet is called the same……I havent tasted the new one myself but I would have doubts. Funny how they can change the shelf life when the Majors get involved….



  • 25 Jarryd Moore // Oct 28, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    Can’t say I’ve heard anyone mention it tasting different. Had a poke around online and couldn’t see any discussion of it either.

    Maybe it’s not their Batch 37. It could be something like the liquorice bites?


  • 26 allan wickham // Oct 28, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    Jarryd, it cant go from a 3 week shelf life to 6 months without it being different.

    Batch 37.


  • 27 Jarryd Moore // Oct 28, 2013 at 9:22 PM

    Yes, obviously they’ve made a change but that doesn’t necessarily mean it tastes different. Packaging technology and food chemistry have both come a long way since Batch 37 was first created.

    I think DL would have been very conscious of changing the taste of one of their flagship products. If they thought consumers would notice they change I doubt they would have extended the shelf life. Even the most basic market research into the history of major confectionery companies would have revealed to them some horror stories of what happens when you change the taste of a successful, long-term performing product.


  • 28 allan wickham // Oct 28, 2013 at 9:53 PM

    Jarryd, it has got to be different. Maybe they removed the product from traditional outlets just long enough for people to not pick up on a minor change to the product itself? How many years have people walked past a DL shop thinking they could smell the great batch 37 liquorice when in fact all the smell was, was a clever use of of aniseed oil bought from the local Pharmacist and wiped over any fixture/fitting within nostril distance of the front of store? You cant have a change in shelf life without altering the product. Im not saying they have changed the taste, as you pointed out DL would not be that silly, but Im sure the product has been altered.


  • 29 allan wickham // Oct 28, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    Sorry Jarryd, I meant to finish with….”if its changed then how can it still be Batch 37″?


  • 30 allan wickham // Oct 28, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    Maybe it should be something new and exciting like “Batch i38 or something similar.


  • 31 Lance // Oct 28, 2013 at 11:29 PM

    Honestly I’ don’t know the Batch 37 product, but would it be silly of me to suggest that absolutely nothing has changed other than the date on the bag.
    Could it originally have been a marketing maneuver to keep stock moving and ‘fresh’ stock coming into the outlets ?
    Now, as someone above suggested, that practice may not suit the majors.
    They tell’em what they want, and they get it.
    Yeah, maybe it’s a silly thought……%-(


  • 32 Jarryd Moore // Oct 29, 2013 at 2:06 AM

    It’s almost certain they did change the product slightly. I’m just saying that they appear to have found a way to do it without changing its taste or texture – which is a lot easier than it used to be.

    While it’s unlikely a packaging change has extended the shelf life that long it’s not entirely impossible. Packaging can, in some instances, have a significant effect on shelf life.

    My original point was that the product Maureen purchased in the UK might not have been Batch 37. Taking a look at some of the photos people from overseas have posted on the DL Facebook page, it would appear that it is not Batch 37 available overseas.


  • 33 Michael // Apr 5, 2014 at 10:50 PM

    As a long time devotee to Darrell Lea licorice and having just bought the batch 37 from my local chemist, I noticed the. 6 months or so shelf life via the used by date. I deterred I thought I would take a chance but sadly it is not the same. Gone is the softness when opening a fresh packet. It is quiet chewy and certainly not as soft and sweet as it once was.

    Sad how a once great company goes down the path of creating mass produced rubbish and as such losing what differentiated their product from the competition.


  • 34 Rose // Apr 14, 2014 at 9:15 PM

    Completely agree with you, Michael.

    I was a big purchaser of batch 37 ‘soft eating’ licorice prior to the takeover in 2012 ( embarrassed to say, I purchased a few 500g bags a week).

    Soon after the takeover I noticed a marked deterioration of the taste. Not as soft as before. The same occurred with the blueberry and pomegrante licorice- it used to be soft and chewy. Now it’s sugary, plastic and candy like. Also similar to earlier discussions, the expiry date changed considerably.

    It’s a real shame that Darrell lea have gone this way- cutting corners and bowing to the hands of big companies instead of keeping the old family name, and reputation darrell lea used to have.

    I was prepared to pay the $5.99 for the 500grams of high quality licorice that I used to know and love. The same cannot be said now.


  • 35 Stephen // Jun 28, 2014 at 7:23 PM

    I have also noticed the decline in quality (taste and texture) of all DL products since the takeover, and the Woolworths supplied licourice is absolute junk. Their chocolate is low grade, and gives me indigestion. Very dissappointed with what was a great brand with fantastic products. The sight of those displays in chemists an newsagents actually reminds me of the poor taste and makes me feel ill. At least the waistline is appreciative 🙂


  • 36 Norman // Oct 18, 2019 at 3:09 PM

    Where can I buy Darrell Lea soft centre chocolates in Port Macquarie New South Wales??


  • 37 Sunny // Oct 19, 2019 at 9:38 AM

    Hi, Norman. Darrell Lea Soft Centre Chocolates was manufactured by Davis Chocolate.

    In 2012, Darrell Lea Soft Centre box along with Hard Centre box, are discounted by Darrell Lea. Davis Chocolate still manufacture and sell these soft centre /hard centre through newsagents, David Janes stores, and their factory outlet in Kingsgrove NSW.


  • 38 Sunny // Oct 19, 2019 at 9:40 AM

    Hi, Norman. Darrell Lea Soft Centre Chocolates was manufactured by Davies Chocolate.

    In 2012, Darrell Lea Soft Centre box along with Hard Centre box, are discontinued by Darrell Lea. Davies Chocolate still manufacture and sell these soft centre /hard centre through newsagents, David Janes stores, and their factory outlet in Kingsgrove NSW.


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