TORONTO, ON – According to a report in today’s Toronto Star, the upcoming Ontario Government budget may open up beer and wine sales to large grocery chains in the province, while also forcing The Beer Store to pay a substantial “franchise fee” to stay in business.
The Star’s Martin Regg Cohn – a Queen’s Park reporter who has been tracking potential changes in the province’s beer market for several years now – reports that government sources have said hundreds of supermarkets in Ontario are expected to be licensed to sell craft beer and national brands, while a smaller number will also be allowed to sell domestic and imported wines. Distilled spirits would remain exclusively available at LCBO locations.
While beer and wine would be displayed in a designated area or aisle, they would not be cordoned off from the rest of the store, and purchases would take place at the regular check-out counters, where staff would check ID for younger customers as is currently done in Beer Store and LCBO outlets.
In addition to this increased competition, the foreign-owned Beer Store consortium is likely to be ordered to pay the government up to $100 million annually to retain its status as the province’s only beer-exclusive retailer.
For more details on these rumoured developments, see the full Toronto Star article.