TORONTO, ON – In a surprise move, Ontario’s Beer Store – the retail chain co-owned by Molson Coors, Labatt/AB-InBev and Sleeman/Sapporo – announced this morning that it will start offering ownership shares and other concessions to small breweries in the province effective immediately.
Under the new rules, any brewery that operates a production brewing facility in Ontario will be eligible to become a shareholder in the company, with membership costs set at $100 for breweries with Beer Store sales of under 5 million litres per year, and $1000 for those above that sales threshold.
The company’s contentious listing fees policy will also be changing, with breweries that sell fewer than 1 million litres per year via the chain being offered the chance to list two products for free at the five Beer Store locations closest to the brewery. A per-store listing fee of $230 will be charged for distribution at additional stores beyond the initial five, but the base listing fee of $2,880 currently in place for all products will be waived for these smaller breweries.
On the corporate side, the structure of the company’s Board of Directors – which currently includes representation from only Molson and Labatt – will change to include 5 members from each of those breweries, 2 from Sleeman, 2 from other owner breweries with annual sales above 5 million litres, and 1 from those breweries below that sales point. There will also be an Executive Committee of the Board that will be comprised of one Director each from Molson and Labatt, and a third elected by all of the other owners.
These changes come amidst growing criticism of the Beer Store and it’s current ownership structure, most notably from the Toronto Star‘s Martin Regg Cohn and Blog TO‘s Ben Johnson, both of whom have written numerous negative articles and exposés on the company.
For more details, see the full Beer Store press release.