TORONTO, ON – Reaction has come quickly to this morning’s announcement from the Beer Store (TBS) that it would be offering ownership shares to all Ontario breweries, and the initial responses from those being targeted by the offer have been less positive than TBS might have hoped.
The official response from the Ontario Craft Brewers, a trade organization that represents approximately 50 of the province’s small and medium sized breweries, indicates that it was not aware of the plan before it was announced this morning – a stance that seems to disprove a statement in the Beer Store press release from Stewart Glendinning, CEO of Molson Coors Canada, that TBS “heard from Ontario brewers that they wanted to participate in the management of the Beer Store and contribute to its future success.”
According to OCB chairman Cam Heaps, the TBS offer “does not address our major issue of improving access for consumers,” and that a main goal of the OCB “continues to be fundamental change to Ontario’s beer distribution channels,” something that the ownership offer does not appear to address.
Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery posted a letter on its Facebook page making similar points as the OCB statement, indicating that the brewery was “blind-sided by this release,” and that it considers ownership to be a “‘red herring’ issue the TBS is using to distract the media and the public.” Ultimately, the brewery would prefer to “let the process between the OCB and TBS evolve and be guided by the government.”
Muskoka Brewery president and founder Gary McMullen tells beer writer Crystal Luxmore that he views the offer as a “Hail Mary plan to try to hold onto something that The Beer Store owners are losing their grip on.” He also considers the offer of stocking two products at five TBS locations for free to be “completely tokenist,” and states that the single Preferred Share that can be purchased by each brewery “won’t even get (them) a muffin at the table at the Annual Meeting.”
The Beer Store has reportedly invited all Ontario breweries to join a conference call tonight at 8:00 PM to hear full details of the offer. More reaction is likely to follow.