Paul Esposito

In our exclusive chat with Paul Esposito, the CEO of Independent Liquor Group (ILG), Esposito highlights the benefits of being a part of a member-owned cooperative. He also opens the door to new members as the group sets its sights on a “massive recruitment drive”.

Esposito explains some of the focus areas for ILG for the remainder of 2020 along with what he says is the key benefit of being a part of a membership based cooperative, and that is that all funds go back to the members.

“At ILG we’re looking at what we can do to future proof, and by recruiting more and more members that’s going to give our independent retailers longevity. So that’s what our focus is going to be, inviting as many people as we possibly can to join ILG.” He explains, “With scale there are benefits”.

And speaking of scale, National Liquor News asked about ILG’s expansion into Victoria and also the progression of the roll out of its premium banner, Fleet Street. And Esposito revealed that Fleet Street was set to open its first stores outside of NSW.

“The Fleet Street launch has been good and we’ve had a lot of excitement and we’ve got some stores in Queensland that are looking to come on board.

“Obviously with COVID things slowed down but we’re now starting to walk through that. We’ve got a few members that will be joining the Fleet Street family over the next four to six weeks.

“With Victoria, once again COVID has played a role and things slowed down, but we’ve got nine solid members in Victoria who are enjoying the benefits of being a part of a cooperative.

“Expanding Fleet Street and Victoria and also recruitment, along with our digital platform, those are the things that we are focusing on.”

ILG launched a new digital platform during the COVID-19 lockdown and it had been designed specifically in a way that would best champion its membership base of independent operators.

“We’re Independent Liquor Group and we’re a collective of independent members so we didn’t want to hijack or ambush that platform. We wanted to work with the members and wanted them to basically own the platform as well,” says Esposito.

“It gives them the ability to trade locally. It also gives them the autonomy to react and to operate. To give them the ability to work out with suppliers whether they’d like to push products through their platform.

“We worked with the POS suppliers and the whole idea was to give them the opportunity to work with autonomy, independently in their regions.

“We’re hoping to have a large chunk of our membership online this side of Christmas.”

This article was originally published in the July edition 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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