The future of the LCBO

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The future of the LCBO

Postby GtownRandy » Fri Apr 15, 2016 7:30 am

Hi guys, been lurking for a while as i've become a big beer afficianado in the last few months. I've been anti-macro for years but am now really learning a lot and trying lots of craft and quality imports (esp belgians, trappists, germans).

Also a bit of a wine fan (that stuff we walk past to get to the lcbo's pitiful beer display to look for hidden gems amongst the Old Credit and Palm Bay). I subscribe to WineAlign's newsletter, which has an article about the role LCBO may have in the future Ontario alcohol landscape, which includes e-commerce and home delivery, and expanded grocery store sales. It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out, and whether selection and distribution will improve in the future.

Here's the link:

and here's the quoted article, by WineAlign's David Lawrason:

As I walked to the LCBO tasting lab on Tuesday I wondered what might become of VINTAGES in the months ahead, and of the LCBO in general. The day before I had attended the California Wine Fair and listened to Shari Mogk-Edwards, Vice President of Products, Sales and Marketing deliver the LCBO’s annual state of the nation address at the Trade Luncheon. After announcing that California has become the number one imported wine region in Ontario, she spoke about the future of the LCBO now that grocery store sales and a new e-commerce and home delivery system are promised to roll out this year.

Within “a decade” we are promised 150 grocery outlets selling Ontario wine, and another 150 selling both imported and Ontario wines. Given the number of grocery outlets in Ontario this is a pittance, but government promises are rarely writ in stone are they? This is careful politicking and messaging – and I personally suspect accelerated implementation in far less than a decade once the marketplace sinks its teeth into privatized wine and beer retailing.

Shari Mogk-Edwards also said that the new E-commerce and home delivery system, which has already completed initial testing, will expose a wide range of products to consumers – not just existing LCBO General List and VINTAGES products. It will source within the stocks of importing agencies as well, to make selection far greater to the general public. I suspect some agents will not be happy about the deal they get, but I am in favour of anything that widens selection and access for consumers.

So, with all this liberalization, what’s to become of the LCBO itself as a bricks and mortar retailer? And VINTAGES, specifically, around which we publish these previews every month? Well Shari Mogk-Edwards let it be known that “The LCBO’s focus will be on premium products and on-line sales”. This makes perfect sense if grocery will take on the lower end of the market, and it bodes well for an expanded VINTAGES role.

Whether the LCBO needs or will keep all its retail stores is a different issue in a way. And so is the question of whether the LCBO should continue to exist. But as long as it is here I am happy that it is aiming up market. Hopefully we will see much more shelf space devoted to interesting wines from home and abroad, and an end to the arbitrary exclusion of so many wines that want to be here and deserve to be here.

Glad to be here on this forum! Randy
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El Pinguino
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Re: The future of the LCBO

Postby El Pinguino » Fri Apr 15, 2016 2:22 pm

Interesting read. Always nice to try and see what the LCBO is thinking.
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Re: The future of the LCBO

Postby Gavin » Sun Apr 17, 2016 12:48 pm

As much as I'm in favour of fully privatized sales, there's no reason that the LCBO can't exist as a parallel system. Divorce private sales from the LCBO -- let them import, distribute, stock, and price however they want -- and then the LCBO can keep doing its thing, focusing on premium products and premium service. Why is this idea so hard?
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Re: The future of the LCBO

Postby portwood » Sun Apr 17, 2016 4:50 pm

Gavin wrote:-- and then the LCBO can keep doing its thing, focusing on premium products and premium service. Why is this idea so hard?

because, other than perhaps wine, they have demonstrated an inability to accomplish those two things to any degree acceptable to people looking for "premium" products!

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