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Beaumonde on the Point.

Demystifying Liquor Licences

Sitting down with Phil Cockman, we asked some questions about liquor licencing, getting him to break down his inside knowledge of the market.

What is the advantage of picking a smaller consultancy for your liquor licence application or restaurant needs? What sets you apart?

The biggest advantage with picking a smaller consultancy is the level of contact and personal touch we provide throughout. Applications for a liquor licence/plans can often get handed down through a chain of command in larger businesses. I believe that Canford is successful because I am there for all projects/clients from the first consultancy call, to all meetings, and eventual project launch. The 20 years of dealing with clients face to face puts me in a good position too. I know that this process works, and my clients feel better off knowing that I am there each step of the way.


What is the most common liquor licence you help clients acquire? Why is it so popular?

A lot of our liquor licence work relates to liquor stores, taverns and hotels (as you can imagine).  It is fair to say the more controversial the application the more value we can add.

That said, we also assist with larger applications, e.g. Northbridge Brewing Company, Palace Cinemas Raine Square etc. In these situations, the trading conditions become just as vital.


What is something people don’t consider when beginning their journey to a liquor licence application/opening of a new bar/cafe/restaurant?

It’s a mistake often made by anyone in any sort of profession when starting up – rushing into things. It’s understandable – you have an idea, you’re convinced it works and you can’t wait to launch it into the market and watch it make you a profit. While there are those who get lucky and nail it, a lot of people jump the gun and don’t do their research.

Questions people often don’t consider that we always ensure to check off include the following:

    • What liquor licence is right for you?
    • What are the chances of obtaining the right liquor licence with the right trading conditions?
    • Are your selected premises suitable and approvable for the type of bar/restaurant you propose?
    • Do they comply with health and planning laws?
    • Where are the customers coming from?
    • Are your lease terms flexible enough to be suitable for what you want to do?
    • Is your rent too high?

Answering these questions can be a time consuming process, and consequently can be daunting. That’s where we can add value, as we bring our expertise and experience to the process, helping clients make good decisions on the viability of their proposed business. Liquor licence and bar design are vital. You want the right aesthetics and feel, but equally having someone like myself there to ensure functionality and cost management is important, is too frequently overlooked. 

What governs the granting of a liquor licence? i.e. what arguments do you make when you are trying to persuade the licensing authority to grant a liquor licence?

The decision maker must be convinced the granting of your liquor licence is in the public interest. Evidence must be presented to show it will benefit people and provide a service to the community which is in demand, without disturbing or harming the local community.
The process of granting liquor licences can become complex for those reasons. Alcohol can have negative impacts. While your idea may be great, consideration must be given to the potential for harm before the licensing authority will be convinced a suburb needs another licensed premises. 


What is the most common service you provide? And why do you think that is?

Liquor licensing is still the largest part of our business. There is a really strong restaurant and bar scene within Perth and Western Australia.  Further, the Liquor Control Act and planning laws are constantly changing, and the laws in WA are different to other States.

For us specifically, I believe we draw in a large volume of liquor licence work due to what we charge for our services vs bigger legal firms with offices in the Perth CBD. We have clients who have been with us for many, many years now, national and local clients – I’m very proud of that.

What is something that you see in the Perth Hospitality market that will continue to grow in popularity over the next few years? Is there a shift towards a specific type of cafe/restaurant/bar style?

I see the following trends in what we do – firstly, owners and developers taking more time to do due diligence to get the venue right. I also think a big trend that might become more prevalent is the use of environmental food service technology like clean air kitchen exhausts or electrolysed water to reduce chemical usage.

In general, I have seen many good hospitality ideas fail through a lack of planning and foresight. The costs of setting up a business are very important, but the ongoing operational costs (e.g. rent and wages) are absolutely vital. What we do at Canford is help the clients take a more long term view, and set their business up professionally and give it a much better chance of success.

Contact us

08 6278 2788