In the province of Ontario, sales of all alcohol beverages are fully regulated and operated by the government. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) oversees the importation and sales of all alcohol products in Ontario. The LCBO is one of the largest purchasers of alcohol beverages in the world and the single largest buyer of premium wines. It not only oversees importation of all alcohol to the province, but also operates over 600 retail stores in Ontario.
There is a major difference between LCBO and other government monopolies. The LCBO is focused on providing world class wines and spirits through their stores, constantly on the lookout for new products in all price-points, including premium and ultra premium. Every year the monopoly releases over 6000 different products to the market, mainly through their premium division called LCBO Vintages.
In order to export to Ontario, a supplier must become a trading partner of LCBO. Each supplier must appoint an Agent, who represents their interests in Ontario. The role of an agent is to actively solicit sales of supplier’s products and actively promote them to monopoly, on-trade customers and end consumers.
There are two main channels through which products are imported:
Fully owned and operated by the LCBO, retail stores offer high volume sales and vast distribution and availability to consumers, accounting for 95% plus of total sales in Ontario. LCBO purchases all products through a tender process, with a number of opportunities available throughout the year. There are two main divisions within LCBO: LCBO Wines which focused on high volume, general consumer products and LCBO Vintages which is dedicated to premium wines. Within LCBO Vintages there are a number of programs suitable for all sorts of wines depending on product profile, price and availability. BND Wines & Spirits helps suppliers to navigate the LCBO system and has vast experience in the successful placing of a number of products in the LCBO stores throughout the year. We also actively promote the products ensuring successful sales once on the market.
Also operated by the LCBO, this program allows Agents to import products directly not available through retail stores. These products can then be sold directly to Restaurants and Private Consumers.
There are two channels within Private Ordering: Consignment, where established agents are allocated certain warehouse space and are allowed to import products of their choice for resale. Or Private Orders, where products are pre-sold to end consumers and imported based on confirmed orders submitted to the LCBO by the Agent. BND Wines & Spirits is an active and successful player in both categories.
It is important to note that all suppliers working in Ontario trade directly with the LCBO in all purchase orders and payments. This not only ensures equal trading conditions for all suppliers, no matter how big or small, but also guarantees constant payment security to the suppliers as well as product quality assurance to the consumer.
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