In the 2022 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum, Independent Liquor Group CEO, Paul Esposito, described how the co-operative will leverage the results of 2021 to deliver more positives to members in 2022.

Independent Liquor Group (ILG) achieved a record breaking financial result in 2021 with year-end sales revenue up 24 per cent.

The co-operative’s membership grew by 12 per cent through the year with an ongoing rise expected into 2022; andmember rebates were up by 25 per cent. Equity grew from $19.5m to $23m, with total assets up at $97m. Earnings were up six per cent with underlying profit also up at $3.1m, allowing ILG to make a $2m repayment to its Treasury Corp Loan and reduce the debt for its Erskine Park facility to $6m.

In 2021, ILG’s focus was to give members the ability and freedom to promote products that reflect their communities in both press and digital platforms. This resulted with significant sales increases with retail banners experiencing 26 per cent growth ILG CEO, Paul Esposito, told National Liquor News that achieving growth amidst the pandemic was a challenge, but it’s a testament to ILG’s agility and united front as a family. Moving forward, ILG will strive to continue growing its membership, while increasing recognition of ILG as a co-operative.

“ILG is built on its members, not investors, shareholders, or speculators. We can operate at a lower cost than our for-profit competitors because we do not need to reward investors. We are equitable because we reward members in relation to their engagement with ILG rather than investor shareholding,” Esposito said.

“Our goal moving forward is to recruit more members so we can increase our influence of power in the marketplace. We want to lower distribution cost, get better prices from our suppliers and share greater earnings to our members.”

Focus for 2022

In August 2021, ILG soft launched its premium Fleet Street banner at Camp Hill in Queensland, a first for the state. It was a great success, with the store already seeing increased basket spend and foot traffic.

Following Camp Hill, Brisbane River Fine Wines and Spirits launched under the banner, with two more sites in Queensland and three more in NSW being considered to potentially commence in the first quarter of 2022. The brand is gaining momentum, with 17 existing stores and expressions of interest on the rise, and ILG is carefully reviewing applications to ensure that the brand’s image and personality are maintained.

The next focus in Queensland will be to purchase real estate to house distribution operations. The preference is for a purpose built warehouse that will allow consistency in processes across all three sites with enhanced operational capabilities.

ILG will also continue to focus on Victoria, growing its customer base and giving Victorian hospitality and independent retailers an opportunity to join the co-operative.

During the pandemic, ILG introduced segments of its e-commerce platform to allow members to trade online through periods of lockdown. But in early 2022, the co-operative’s full e-commerce solution will be executed and is expected to boost sales for members.

Esposito concluded: “The co-operatives family virtue has never been more evident with the outpour of co-operation and support from various stakeholders. We appreciate the understanding and patience extended by our members amidst their most vulnerable times and for keeping their loyalty and patronage to ILG.”

Article written by Deb Jackson.

Read more from the 2022 National Liquor News Leaders Forum here.

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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