Despite the economic challenges of 2023, Independent Liquor Group (ILG) was able to mark its fifth record-breaking year, with continued growth in sales, volume and membership across all of the cooperative’s states of operation.

Paul Esposito, CEO of ILG, discussed the numbers behind this growth, and said: “We have achieved sales revenue over $520 million and more than 5.7 million cases sold in the calendar year with service levels at all sites over 98 per cent.

“Retail banner performance has also remained strong across our three main brands, with Bottler up by 23 per cent, Super Cellars up by 33 per cent and Fleet Street up by 19 per cent. State wise, our presence in VIC is evidently making waves, with membership up by 33 per cent. QLD and NSW are showing no signs of slowing down at 21 per cent and 16 per cent growth respectively.”

With such a growing membership base, Esposito said the focus of ILG for 2024 will be to improve operational capabilities that meet the needs of both new and existing members. The ILG staff family has grown over the past six months to accommodate these improvements, following structural changes aimed to support progressive operational efficiency.

Another focus in this high growth environment is centred around logistics, with Esposito noting: “Space across our current distribution depots is also a major priority with three of our four wholesale networks completing a logistical shift to accommodate the growth.”

In QLD, this has seen ILG progress from a share lease to securing an entire warehouse, while in NSW, ILG has reclaimed area from a third-party partnership, and in VIC, the group has partnered with BAM Logistics to operate an additional site in the state.

Maintaining growth in 2024

There is a clear appetite for all of ILG’s services in the market at the moment. Not only are the group’s banners attracting interest and trading successfully, ILG’s relaunched B2B online marketplace, Liquorstop Warehouse, continues to grow.

“What is also driving our expansion is the independent channel. They are experiencing firsthand the value of being part of a cooperative, versus an ASX listed company. These companies make their decisions based on profits to deliver better returns for outside shareholders, however we channel it back to our members,” Esposito explained.

As always, ILG is working on how it can improve to channel more back to this membership in 2024. Already, it has begun rolling out new initiatives such as a digital wallet, which is now live in Fleet Street stores, with plans to expand to other banners in coming months. Other digital solutions, from websites and e-commerce to TV platforms and social media presence, continue to be a focus for the team in the year ahead.

“The ILG offer will continue to be appraised and measured to ensure the ongoing relevance of our banners in the market. Work in this area has started in 2023 and has delivered exceptional results, that continue to appeal to those seeking longevity complemented by kinship within a driven industry,” Esposito noted.

“The continued development in our digital solutions offer is key to upholding our members’ relevance in the market. ILG will persistently assess and support members to succeed in this space.”

With the increasing cost-of-living predicted to put further pressure on businesses in 2024, ILG will also support the growing membership base through operational initiatives, such as freight assistance and business development training workshops.

This article originally appeared in the 2024 Leaders Forum issue of National Liquor News.

Deborah Jackson

Deb joined Intermedia in 2015 as Editor of National Liquor News and Deputy Editor of The Shout. Since then, she has also worked as the Editor of Beer & Brewer and the New Zealand title, World of Wine....

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