The National Independent Liquor Wholesalers Association (NILWA) is closing down, with General Manager, Jenny Hughes (pictured above with Martin O’Mara) telling The Shout the decision has come following changes in the industry and pressures in the on-premise.

Member wholesalers River City in Queensland and Monacellars in Victoria will continue to operate, with River City looking to continue operating the Signature Drinks business, although the framework and naming is still to be decided.

Hughes told The Shout: “The remaining members of NILWA met on Monday and made the difficult decision to close the door. That was really a result of the change in the industry, the pressures in on-premise and the impact that has had on our membership. NILWA is a group of wholesale members and those changes have impacted our members and in effect had an impact on us as well.

“NILWA has been going for 27 years, so it was a very hard decision to have to make, we have put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into NILWA, a lot of our staff are long-term employees, so it is a big change for everyone.”

In terms of Signature Drinks, Hughes said: “[It] was a customer banner group for on-premise that Martin and I created back in 2014. It was really to give some structure to on-premise that suppliers recognised and could see benefits with and be able to filter discounts to customers.

“Signature Drinks will still be operated by River City, they will use the framework of Signature Drinks, whether they call it that, we haven’t had those conversations yet.

“We have also been talking about getting a wholesale operation going in Newcastle, but that’s just going to be put on pause for now.”

In terms of what’s next for Hughes herself, the 38-year liquor industry stalwart is looking at what opportunities might be available, but is busy working on helping River City and Monacellars transition to national programs and helping the NILWA team find new employment before deciding what her next move will be.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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