By Tam Allenby, Assistant Editor National Liquor News
Independent Liquor Group (ILG) CEO Paul Esposito presented financial year 2017 growth figures and plans for future investments and initiatives to ILG members in New York this week, to conclude the co-operative’s annual study tour.
ILG sales revenue is up 3.4 per cent, net profit after tax totaled $2.65m, and as Esposito explained, the balance sheet is stronger than a year ago – with the company’s net assets valued at $16.8m.
Esposito also announced that ILG now own their Townsville warehouse, diversifying the company’s earnings, and said that cash flow is also in a stronger position.
“We’re also looking at bringing back our members share dividends which will commence this financial year moving forward – so we’re in a pretty healthy position,” Esposito told ILG members and suppliers gathered at the Sofitel in Midtown.
Esposito also detailed the performance of ILG’s banner groups in the 2017 financial year; Super Cellars is up 7 per cent in volume and 5 per cent in dollars – and has also seen a 10 percent increase in membership – while Little Bottler is up 11 percent in volume and 7 percent in dollars, but with flat membership growth.
“For the rest of the banner groups, we’re down – but that’s a result of not recycling Porter’s numbers,” Esposito said. Porter’s was purchased by Metcash (IBA) in January 2017.
A number of initiatives and future investments were also announced, including a rebranding of the Super Cellars banner group, store upgrades, improving consumer engagement through social media and in the press, and improving member satisfaction and transparency.
In terms of concrete investments, Esposito said that ILG will be investing in new ERP and POS systems to improve member engagement along with IT and HR support. He also announced that ILG will be making a move into Victoria and possible store acquisitions in both NSW and Victoria.
“I’ll be updating members about this strategy for moving into Victoria at the AGM,” explained Esposito.
Esposito said that in his 25 years in the industry – working with ILG for a large part of that as a supplier –he understands how unique ILG is in the industry, a cooperative that is completely independent unlike some of its competitors.
ILG’s members are the stakeholders, and being a co-operative, everything is returned back to the ILG members.
“We’ve set ourselves some huge goals to take us forward, and we’re building a team for tomorrow – every dollar we invest today will protect the independent hotelier, retailer and members for the future,” Esposito said.
The overall theme for the business seminar was “strength in numbers”, with representatives from Pernod Ricard, CUB, Lion, Campari and Treasury Wine Estates presenting detailed and informative presentations to delegates after Esposito’s address.
Themes covered included the need for innovation and technology in retail, the effect that an ageing and increasingly multicultural population has on the liquor industry in Australia, and the different ways of engaging or disrupting a customer in-store.
The business seminar took place on the final day of ILG’s annual study tour, which included a visit to the Brooklyn Brewery in New York as well as tours of the Wild Turkey, Buffalo Trace and Jim Beam distilleries in Kentucky earlier in the week.