Globe & Mail Article Slams Ontario’s Beer Store

TORONTO, ON – In an opinion piece published in today’s edition of The Globe & Mail, columnist Barrie McKenna strongly criticizes The Beer Store, the Ontario chain owned by Molson Coors, Labatt and Sleeman that controls the vast majority of retail beer sales in the province.

While the article includes some wider commentary on alcohol retailing in Ontario, including a brief look at the problems that Beau’s Brewery had with their beer delivery service late last year, most of McKenna’s pointed prose is aimed directly at The Beer Store, which he calls “an anachronism” in need of an overhaul:

Forget about tastings, attention-grabbing displays of new offerings or expert advice to help you choose from hundreds of selections. At the 437 Beer Stores, it’s get in line, pay the clerk, get out.

That’s because the Beer Store is designed to deliver beer to consumers in the most barebones way possible. The company’s mandate, according to spokesman Jeff Newton, is to operate on a full “cost-recovery basis.” In 2009, the last year for which the company provides data, the Beer Store posted a small $1.1-million loss on $2.6-billion worth of beer sold. The lower the cost of delivering beer, the frothier the margins for Labatt, Molson Coors and Sleeman.

It’s unknown at this time if The Beer Store or its parent breweries are planning an official response to the article.

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