Even a stopped clock is right twice a day…

As inept and foolish as the Ford government in Ontario might be, you have to admit it when occasionally the chuckleheads do something right. It is like when the impossibly ideological Mike Harris government in the late 1990s amalgamated the city of Toronto. The province did it for the wrong reasons and, maybe, even out of spite. It was still the best long-term solution for the city.

And while some might wonder at Doug Ford and his friends picking a fight with the Beer Store, it makes sense for a populist government to fight with an organization that Ontario beer drinkers hate. Standing up to the foreign owners of the Beer Store is a rite of passage. It shows that Dougie and his buddies are the big dogs now.

And what reasonably intelligent business person do you know who would want to sue a government giving them increased access to a market worth more than a billion dollars per year? The deal made with the Beer Store five years ago by banker Ed Clark is only of historical interest. It was an inappropriate deal to begin with and neither the brewers nor the government want the gouging of the public by the Beer Store to become public knowledge.

We are told the three companies, Labatt, Molson and Sleeman, agreed to spend $100 million a year in the first four years to upgrade their Beer Store properties. If these companies are serious about staying in business in Ontario, they should be spending that much and more routinely to maintain and improve their 470 outlets, as well as adding new properties as the population grows.

And you can hardly ignore the less glamorous end of the business. The scope of the Beer Store’s recycling business can make many similar operations appear small and puny. And do not forget the deal with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) to reclaim their liquor and wine bottles. This is not just social responsibility. It is a multi-million dollar business on its own.

But what do you want to bet that a company such as Costco could teach the Beer Store people a thing or two about marketing two-fours?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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