11.38 A.M. The Beer Store BULLSHIT !!! …


Only in Ontario would the news that consumers will be granted the great privilege of purchasing a six-pack of beer at fixed prices in a strictly limited number of grocery stores be hailed as the makings of an “exciting day.” But that’s Ontario, and so that’s what Premier Kathleen Wynne called it when she made just such an announcement last month. Ms. Wynne was so overcome with excitement, in fact, that she compared her government’s magnanimity to the giving spirit of the Christmas season, with the loose hook being that the first 60 stores will be selling their tiny allotment of beer by December …

The deal, signed by Brewers Retail – a.k.a. the Beer Store – and the three FOREIGN-OWNED BREWERIES that control it, has a 10-year term. By grudgingly granting a few minor concessions, the beer companies have guaranteed that their provincially-protected monopoly will continue to at least 2025. They’ve bought 10 years of silence on a highly charged political issue. It’s all on paper, signed by the provincial government, and enforceable in the courts ...

The deal has modest pluses. Craft breweries will have more access to consumers than before, thanks in part to an earlier deal that guaranteed them more shelf space in Beer Stores, and because they will soon be in grocery stores. The province has also repealed a regulation that effectively limited craft breweries to a single retail storefront. And there is no question that over time, in creeping increments, beer will start to appear in grocery stores across the province. There will be 60 such outlets by Christmas, a maximum of 150 by May 2017, and the rest in whatever dribs and drabs the province deems fit after that. Who knows? By 2025 there may even be the promised (but unambitious) total of 450 …

The deal also commits Brewers Retail to the spending of $100-million on improving their Beer Stores, many of the older of which smell like stale beer and have the ambience of a Soviet-era shoe store. As a protected monopoly, Brewers Retail has no compunction to make its consumer experience anything more than the most grubby transaction: You give us your money and we give you some beer. Under the deal with the province, renovated and new Beer Stores will be self-serve and have open-concept formats, something that retailers in competitive markets have only been doing for, you know, the past 30 years. But that’s where the positives end. Most of the deal is about what can’t be done, lest it interfere with the Beer Stores’ precious protected markets. Grocery stores will only be able to sell six-packs; you can buy as many as you like but there will be no discount that comes with buying a case of 24 at a Beer Store. These new outlets will have to operate on Beer Store hours and sell beer at Beer Store prices – no competition allowed! They can’t do promotional deals with individual brewers. And if they sell too much beer in a year, their supplier, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, has to pay compensation to Brewers Retail. That’s right: There is an annual cap on how much grocery stores can sell in total, and a financial penalty if they go over the limit.


Source: The Beer Store boondoggle continues, thanks to Kathleen Wynne – The Globe and Mail


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