Changes and challenges in 30 years

ILT Centrepoint distribution manager Neville Foster is ready to retire after 30 years in the...
ILT Centrepoint distribution manager Neville Foster is ready to retire after 30 years in the wholesale distribution business. PHOTO: NINA TAPU
Thirty years ago Neville Foster started working for the Invercargill Licensing Trust, uncertain of what the future held for him.

Yesterday, he was farewelled by ILT staff after spending a big part of his life in a job that gave him not just a career but opportunities he could not have imagined.

"I certainly didn’t expect to still be here after I began 30 years ago.

"When I first started, taverns weren’t even open on Sundays.

"Now things have evolved and operations run seven days a week.

"I’ve had the privilege to be here for those changes and have been fortunate to be a part of ILT's developments."

Mr Foster has had a significant impact on ILT across a range of businesses, particularly in his role overseeing Centrepoint Distribution.

"I oversaw the Queenstown operation and was part of the Newfield redevelopment process."

The ILT stalwart’s dedication has ensured the trust’s reputation as a large-scale liquor wholesaler is well respected at a national level.

During his tenure, he worked in various roles including Tavern, Hotel, and Centrepoint Distribution manager and enjoyed success in ILT’s hospitality businesses which included a stint at the Grand Hotel when it was owned and operated by ILT.

"ILT is a great company. It’s not a big corporate. It’s a family. It’s team ILT", Mr Foster said.

Despite the successes and the perks from the job that included attending Rugby World Cups, tennis finals and travelling overseas; it was overcoming the challenges over the years which resonated most with him.

"If I look back on my 30 years in hospo, Covid-19 was the toughest and most brutal time.

"It changed the way people shopped and we had to send parents home to their kiddies and just had the staff on the ground that we could have on site.

"But we got through and are doing better than ever.

"Before I had to ring around for staff; now people are calling up asking for work", he said.

Mr Foster credited past and present colleagues for being some of the most "special and talented people that he’d worked for and alongside".

He was grateful to his team, for their loyalty and support, especially when his child fell sick and when he had a heart attack.

Building strong relationships with people was integral to his job and extended to working across the hospitality sector and connecting with the wider community.

"When zero percent alcohol beer and wine came out I thought ‘who’s going to buy that?’

"But now those are popular sellers and everyone's buying it", he said.

Mr Foster leaves behind an ILT team family that he "will miss" but he was confident his staff would etch their own marks into ILT's history.

"I’ve managed over 40 staff over the years and I feel chuffed when I see them move ahead.

"I’m sad to leave them, but by the same token I’m really looking forward to the next stage of my retirement."