While re-opening is a welcome prospect for venue operators, having the stock and cash flow to hit the ground running is a problem many publicans are currently facing.

As venues start to re-open, operators are now being faced with the problem of having to source fresh stock quickly, with very little funds to cover the purchases. It’s a whole new problem for operators that have had an incredibly tough start to the year.

At Independent Liquor Retailers (ILR), this problem was quickly identified as a key concern surrounding re-opening for their on-premise members. ILR has more than 200 members across New South Wales, the ACT and Queensland with an on-premise offering, and roughly 160 of those members had to shut down completely over the last two months.

In a bid to help those members kick-start their re-opening, ILR has created the Fast Start initiative, to provide immediate assistance to member venues in getting cash flow started once more.

With donations of stock or heavily discounted prices from supplier partner, ILR has been able to put together packages of up to $6000 of value for its on-premise partners, so that they can start making profit off the donated stock. ILR itself is shouting each of its on-premise partners two free kegs of their choice.

“We wanted to provide about $5000 worth of value — we thought that would be a good start-up package for pub operators to put money in the bank,” explained ILR general manager, Corey Leeson.

It’s also a broad mix of beverages – spirits, kegs, wine, mixers – thanks to supplier partners Asahi Premium Beverages, Halewood Spirits, Drinkcraft, McWilliams Wines, Vintage House Wine & Spirits, Dee Vine Estate Wines, Samuel Smith & Sons and Coca Cola Amatil. The broad variety of stock is even more appealing for operators, who can provide for patrons no matter their drink of choice.

One publican who has benefited from the Fast Start initiative is Chris McIntosh of the Courthouse Hotel in Boorowa in regional New South Wales. As a country pub with no gaming, and thus a heavy reliance on food and beverage sales, McIntosh said coming out of the lockdown was a “pretty desperate” situation, but ILR’s Fast Start initiative has provided “a bit of light at the end of the tunnel”.

“The majority of the stock we’ve got from it is free, including two kegs which we got to pick. Over the bar that equates to $1200-1300 so that’s a fair start for sure,” states McIntosh.

“There was also product that we could stock in the bottle shop. There were a few wines and things like that that I could pour over the bar to take full advantage of it, and I can sell them in the bottle shop too, which is great. So depending on what your pub is focusing on, you can take advantage of it in different parts of your business.”

With stock ready to go, Leeson says that the main imperative behind the initiative was to give their pub members tangible assistance quickly.

“A keg of beer is guaranteed to sell. A free bottle of gin – guaranteed you can sell it. That was my thinking – a tangible, instantly profitable thing that will get them up and running.”

Details – Independent Liquor Retailers Pty Ltd. Phone: 1300 408 399.

Email: info@ilr.net.au