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The Beer Store Creates a Big Buzz

Toronto Retail

On the heels of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's threat to end The Beer Store’s virtual monopoly on provincial wobbly-pop sales, the retailer announced yesterday it will allow Ontario-based micro-brewers to purchase ownership stakes in the private operation, currently run by three foreign-based brewers: Molson Coors, AB InBev and Sapporo. “We heard from Ontario brewers that they wanted to participate in the management of The Beer Store and contribute to its future success,” said Molson Coors Canada CEO Stewart Glendinning, pictured below, left, with parent company chair Andrew Molson and vice-chair Pete Coors.


The fine print: Brewers selling under 5 million litres a year pay $100 for a preferred share in the company; those clearing over that pony up $1k; small brewers (who sell under 1 million litres/year) pay no listing fee when stocking two of their products at the five stores closest to their brewery. Ontario brewers get three seats on the 15-member Beer Store board, but the foreign-owned incumbents maintain control. Ontario Craft Brewers chair Cam Heaps called the news a “complete surprise,” and said the plan doesn’t address his group’s “major issue”: improving consumer access to craft brews.