Last week, Independent Liquor Group (ILG) held its first in-person AGM since the pandemic (during its annual Family Reunion event), with positive news for members.
In an address to members, Chris Grigoriou, ILG Chairman of the Board, hailed the success of the last year.
“Despite the continuing influence of COVID in supply chain and human resource aspects of our business, our capacity to be agile, and adaptive to changes, while remaining consistent in our strategic plans, together with the enormous support from our members have been the key factors to success,” he said.
In FY 2022 ILG welcomed 131 new members, increased revenue by 1.9 per cent to $414m, and paid out $12m in rebates to its members.
Total assets under the group’s control have increased to $100m, while ILG also recorded an EBIT of $14.6m.
“Equally noteworthy is the repayment of a million dollars of our New South Wales Treasury Corp loan, reducing the debt of the Erskine Park warehouse to 5.9 million,” Grigoriou added.
“We are extremely grateful to all of our retail members for your ongoing loyalty and contribution to the cooperative, and for your patience and understanding along the way.”
New board member elected
As an AGM was unable to be hosted during the pandemic, some of the existing members were invited to fill the board’s casual vacancies. As ILG is a co-operative, these directors were required to be re-elected by the membership at the AGM.
For the first time, there were more nominees than there were positions available – meaning the election was competitive. Tracy Hatch, Owner of the Wellshot Hotel in Ilfracombe, Queensland, was elected to the board, replacing Douglas Dalley.
In her nomination speech, Hatch explained that she had purchased the Wellshot Hotel in 2016 despite “previously not pouring a beer.”
Hatch stated that the hotel was “rundown, had unsavoury customers, dishonest staff and a lack of profitability doing 20 covers a day.”
Under her stewardship, she said, the hotel does 300 covers on a Sunday, and is profitable.
“I now love the hospitality industry and what it has to offer,” Hatch said.
“In 2016, I heard about this ILG – you can become a shareholder, you’re part of a family, you get rebates, you have a voice.”
Hatch is also a member of Longreach regional council and will represent regional Queensland on the board.
The remaining four vacant positions were filled by directors who were successfully re-elected. They include Robert McGhee – Tumut Star, Peter Cox – Dorrigo Cellars, Ripple Parekh – Foodworks Lake Cargellico and Shaughn Murphy- Lucky Star Tavern.
In his report to the members, ILG CEO Paul Esposito highlighted another record-breaking results year, evident of the co-operative’s success over the past four years despite ongoing challenges. He noted that the results are driven by a good strategic plan and by passionate members and staff who have the desire to build a stronger Cooperative that will future proof the independent community.
“FY22 was a record year for ILG with record sales and record returns to our members. This result was delivered on the back of domestic and international lockdowns, floods, and the conflict in Europe, which have caused and will continue to cause major disruptions to supply chain; together we have achieved outstanding results,” Esposito explained.
ILG highlighted the following statistics:
- ILG underlying EBIT reported was $16.6m before member benefits
- ILG underlying profit reported was $1.5m
- ILG repaid an addition $1m to T-Corp loan
- Members benefits paid $12m
- Non-cash benefits to members $2.5m
- ILG total banners increased sales revenue by 14 per cent
- Supercellars sales revenue increased by 13 per cent
- Bottler sales revenue increased by 16 per cent
- Fleet Street sales revenue has increased by 18 per cent
- Victorian Sales revenue has increased by 53 per cent
Expansion and foundation
Grigoriou’s early comments were reflected in an address by CEO Paul Esposito, who also highlighted the expansion of ILG into Queensland, and the formalising of the cooperative’s charitable wing, the ILG Foundation.
“The decision was made that we were looking to purchase a warehouse in south east Queensland,” Esposito said.
“We need to make sure that we’re in a right location and that transport in and out of the location is quite easy.
“The initial thoughts we had, was at a budget of about $25 [million], along came COVID, along came the announcement of the Olympics in Queensland, and I think a lot of smart investors realised that commercial property in Queensland was undervalued compared to Victoria and New South Wales.”
ILG is committed to charitable giving, having raised close to $1m in the past three decades, and an ILG spokesperson explained how the group’s fundraising has developed.
“For close to 30 years now, ILG has been running a fundraiser as part of its annual study tours. It all started with surplus merchandise contributed by its generous supplier members that grew to bigger ticket items,” the spokesperson said.
“This was later combined with a strict fine system for misdemeanours, allowing members to donate whilst having some fun.”
In the past year, ILG management has moved to formalise these commitments via a foundation, as Esposito explained.
“I thought ‘well, we’re doing it informally, why not formalise it?’ There’s a lot of generous people within our business. We’re fortunate, and there’s a lot of people out there that need help,” Esposito said.
“As soon as we registered, the first person to put his hand up was [Board Member] Bobby McGhee. He decided to take ownership and offered his services as Chairperson,” the CEO continued.
Further events and fundraisers are planned in the near future including supporting ILG members’ local communities.
So far this year, the foundation has raised around $50,000, and the aim is to create opportunities for the ILG family to express its bigheartedness in various ways.
In closing Esposito said: “The foundation reinforces what the co-operative is about, that is to be there for one another.”