In the June issue of National Liquor News, Paul Esposito, CEO of Independent Liquor Group (ILG), hailed the success of the group’s Queensland operations and recently introduced trade wholesale platforms.

Despite the obvious economic headwinds, the past 12 months have seen a growth in membership for ILG, reflected in healthy figures on the group’s bottom line.

“Growth in membership has remained steady and favourable for ILG. The co-operative welcomed over 500 new members to the ILG family from July 2022,” Esposito said.

“Recent member additions include managed groups which has also increased the number of accounts we service.

“To ensure we maintain acceptable service levels, we have also grown the ILG staff family with new faces in the areas of IT, trading, finance and supply chain.

“ILG’s half-year results continue to surge across all channels of the business. Revenue grew by 21 per cent compared to the same period last year, while case sales surged by 14 per cent. Profit surpassed last year’s figures by 21 per cent.”

Recently, ILG introduced Liquor Co-op Warehouse, a B2B marketplace platform described as ‘one stop shopping experience’ for licensed businesses across NSW. Esposito provided an update on the early performance of the platform.

“Liquor Co-op Warehouse is doing well. We have a dedicated person overseeing both platforms of Liquor Co-op Warehouse and the Liquorstop Warehouse,” he said.

Partnerships with other associations are also proving fruitful, and Esposito added: “ILG has also partnered with the Restaurant & Catering Association which gives us a wider reach to our target market. This is an avenue allowing businesses out there to access our extensive product range at competitive prices.”

In addition to expanding its wholesale services, ILG has increased its interstate presence, taking the Fleet Street banner to the Queensland market in 2021, and adding a warehouse a year later. Esposito sees great potential for the group’s sunshine state business.

“We strongly believe Queensland will surpass NSW in volume and revenue within the next two years. Queensland operates with a different model. We supply brewery products to our members, versus the brewery direct model in NSW,” he said.

“We are in the process of acquiring another warehouse in Queensland to accommodate our growth.”

In his conversation with National Liquor News, Esposito was keen to stress the difference that his cooperative can make for retailers who may be suffering in the current economic climate.

“As a cooperative, we operate differently. The co-operative is owned by the members, it is not simply trading with ILG – it is partnering with fellow members in collectively shaping the future,” he said.

“In the face of fuel price increases, ILG continues to offer its members freight neutral benefits. This simply means that ILG absorbs the cost of transport. That’s one unbeatable member advantage. 

“Membership growth comes with better buying power, allowing us to pass on the savings to our members, savings they pass on to their customers through better retail prices.

“All surplus generated from the provision of its service is invested back into the business for the benefit of the members.

“With costs increasing, we have managed to absorb these increases to benefit our members. For those customers who are not part of the cooperative already, and are feeling these pressures, it’s worthwhile having a chat with us. 

“ILG’s purpose is to future proof independent retailing. Our membership base is diverse. We supply clubs, pubs, bars, restaurants, stadiums, retail and any other organisation providing alcoholic beverages to consumers. We don’t have the same pressures of return of profits to shareholders as we are not a publicly listed company. Our benefits and cost savings go back to members and the cooperative,” Esposito concluded.

Find our interview with Esposito and other leaders from Australia’s top independent banner groups in the June issue of National Liquor News.

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