TORONTO, ON – Details of a long-standing “sweetheart deal” between Ontario’s two alcohol retail chains – the government-owned LCBO and privately-owned Beer Store – have been revealed in today’s Toronto Star.
The extensive exposé by Provincial Politics reporter Martin Regg Cohn is based on a 10 page internal document from June 2000 that was leaked late last week to a number of beer bloggers and media outlets, including Canadian Beer News.
Titled “Serving Ontario Beer Consumers — Framework for Improved Co-operation and Planning Between the LCBO and BRI” (BRI being shorthand for Brewers Retail Inc., the corporate name of The Beer Store), the document is an agreement between the two corporations that appears to strongly favour The Beer Store in most areas.
Examples of this include:
- Limiting LCBO locations to selling beer in six-pack or smaller formats – i.e. no 12- or 24-packs – in regions that also have a Beer Store.
- Not allowing licensees to buy any products that are stocked at the Beer Store from the LCBO.
- Forcing the LCBO and Beer Store to share long-term plans regarding store locations, promotional programs, and other corporate initiatives.
Cohn also spoke to former LCBO head Andy Brandt, who reveals that while he was personally against the agreement, he received pressure from the Mike Harris-led Conservative government of the time to sign the deal – a move that Brandt speculates was due to the strong lobbying power of The Beer Store and its main parent companies, Molson and Labatt (now part of the multinational conglomerates Molson-Coors and AB-InBev respectively).
For more details, see the full Toronto Star article.