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INFORMATIONFrequently Asked Questions



Q: What is the relationship between the LCBO and the Government of Ontario?

A: The LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) is a $4.892 billion arm’s length agency of the provincial government with 634 stores across Ontario and 7,998 employees, including part-time workers. The LCBO reports to the Minister of Finance. The LCBO finances all of its expenditures through its revenues from product sales. LCBO dividends are remitted annually to the Government of Ontario's Consolidated Revenue Fund and contribute to Ontario’s ability to pay for schools, hospitals, roads and important social programs and major capital projects.

Q: What are the LCBO’s sales and profit figures?

A: Sales in 2012-13 were $4.892 billion and the LCBO delivered a $1.7 billion dividend to the Ontario government. This did not include $430 million in HST* and $361 million in excise taxes and import duties. (When payments to municipalities were included, the total was $2.5 billion. (As of June 2013, these figures were unaudited.)

* The Government of Canada keeps five per cent of HST and sends eight per cent to the Government of Ontario

* The Government of Canada keeps five per cent of HST and sends eight per cent to the Government of Ontario

Q: What are the key corporate objectives of the LCBO?

A: Some objectives of LCBO's 2013-16 strategic plan are:

  • To continuously improve the customer experience, increasing engagement and satisfaction
  • To be a socially responsible retailer recognized by Ontarians for our actions that support:
    • Responsible consumption of alcohol
    • Product quality and safety
    • Environmental sustainability
    • Community involvement and fundraising
  • To maximize returns to the people of Ontario by generating a total of $5.4 billion in net income over the next three years
  • To be a great place to work with a culture of engagement and excellence
  • To provide ongoing support that grows the sales of local Ontario products, with a focus on VQA wines, craft beers and micro-distilleries
  • To improve operation excellence through continued and improved collaborative planning with internal and external stakeholders and trade partners

Q: Is the LCBO the largest purchaser of beverage alcohol in the world?

A: The LCBO is one of the largest single purchasers of beverage alcohol in the world and one of the largest retailers, buying wines, spirits and beers from 87 countries around the world for Ontario consumers and licensees. A total of 17,615 products are available: 3,052 brands regularly on offer, some 9,000 through VINTAGES, LCBO's fine wines and premium spirits unit. Last year, 13,602 unique brands were purchased through LCBO's Private Ordering and Consignment programs.

Q: What is the VINTAGES program and where are VINTAGES products available?

A: VINTAGES is the fine wine and premium spirits business unit of the LCBO. In 2012-13, VINTAGES released more than 9,000 products via regular releases and direct offers through programs such as Classics Collection, Bordeaux Futures, virtual offers and  VintagesShopOnline.com. VINTAGES is also well known as an educator and industry ambassador and hosts innovative events for collectors and oenophiles throughout the year. Up-to-date program and event information are available at www.vintages.com.

Q: What are agency stores?

A: Agency stores operate in established local retail businesses, in partnership with the LCBO, in communities too small to support regular LCBO stores. The LCBO has authorized 219 agency stores throughout Ontario. Selected through a competitive public tender process, participating established local retail businesses provide beverage alcohol retail access in a cost-efficient, socially responsible manner to consumers. The Agency Store Program also brings additional revenue to host communities and helps support their overall business base.

Q: How many Ontario wineries have their own stores?

A: There are 479 Ontario winery retail stores located either in wineries or off-site. These are not regulated by the LCBO, but operate under licence from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

Q: Do Ontario brewers and distillers sell directly to the public?

A: Yes. Ontario’s three largest breweries co-own The Beer Store outlets. These outlets are private businesses operated by owners Labatt, Molson-Coors and Sleeman. The LCBO does not own or operate The Beer Store outlets.

In addition, there are a number of brewery stores and a few on-site distillery stores in Ontario. These are private stores licensed and regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). Please see Related Sites for links to Ontario distilleries and breweries.

Q: Do government agencies or diplomats get discounts from the LCBO?

A: No. No government agency or employee (from any level) receives a discount on LCBO product. Neither do LCBO employees.

Embassies, consular posts and international organizations can purchase from the LCBO at a discount, provided they follow proper ordering procedures, which are carefully monitored. Ontario and other provinces are required to permit such discounted sales under federal legislation and international agreements that have been in place for decades.

Individual diplomats pay the same retail price as other consumers when purchasing from the LCBO.

Changes to embassy sales pricing were made in June 2013 to improve systems controls, sales reporting and monitoring of embassy sales. The new discount of 49 per cent replaces a more complicated formula which created an effective discount rate on embassy sales of 46.3 per cent. While overall prices to embassies will be slightly lower, prices they pay for some products will go up.

Q: What are the costs of the LCBO’s recent collective agreement?

A: On average each day, LCBO sales are almost $14 million.  In May 2013, the LCBO and its 6,700 unionized employees reached a four-year collective agreement averting the possibility of a strike at LCBO stores and warehouses. The cost of the agreement in the current year is $4.2 million.  The total net cost of the new agreement over the four-year term is $20.16 million.  Like other operating costs, these are paid by the LCBO out of its revenues.

The dividend to the province, forecast to be $1,740 million for 2013-14, is unaffected.

Q: How can consumers find out if a local LCBO store carries a certain product? 

A: Consumers can contact the helloLCBO contact centre at hellolcbo.com or call toll-free at 1-800-668-5226 or 416-365-5900 in Toronto. The TTY number for the deaf and hard of hearing is 1-800-361-3291 or 416 864-6898 in Toronto.

Q: I sampled a wonderful bottle of Burgundy wine while I was in France. The LCBO doesn’t carry it, so how can I get it?

A: LCBO’s Private Ordering program can order case lots from anywhere in the world as long as the supplier will ship it to the LCBO. Please phone 1-800-668-5144, or in Toronto, 416 864-6739.

Q: Does the LCBO regulate bars and restaurants? 

A: No. Establishments licensed under the Liquor Licence Act are regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). The AGCO can be contacted at 1-800-522-2876 toll-free in Ontario and 416 326-8700 in Toronto, by fax at 416 326-5555 and by e-mail at  licensing@agco.on.ca. The AGCO website is www.agco.on.ca.

Q: Does the LCBO recycle?

A: Consumers pay a deposit on containers at the LCBO, agency stores and wine and distillery retail stores, and receive a refund when returning them to The Beer Store. The deposit is 10 cents and 20 cents depending on the size of the container.

The Bag it Back program is helping to divert significantly more glass and other beverage alcohol containers from landfill sites and results in more glass being recycled into higher-end uses, including new glass bottles, fibreglass and polar fleece.

The program has been a great success with a return rate of 80 per cent in 2012-13, amounting to more than 523,000 tonnes of glass (as much as 76,000 truck loads), as well as cans, plastic and other containers. It is also freeing up space in the Blue Box program, giving municipal governments an opportunity to expand recycling programs.

The LCBO has also been a significant supporter of the municipal Blue Box program, with more than $50 million in contributions in recent years.

In addition, the LCBO has become a recognized leader in the promotion and sale of lightweight packaging for beverage alcohol, including Tetra Pak cartons, PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles, aluminum cans and, increasingly, lightweight glass.

In 2008, the LCBO phased out plastic bags in all its stores in an effort to reduce reliance on disposable shopping bags and encourage customers to opt for reusable alternatives. This initiative has eliminated 80 million plastic bags. Customers can now purchase a variety of reusable bags or they can bring their own. Customers can also opt for free paper bags made up of 40 per cent recycled content and recyclable through the Ontario Blue Box program.

Reusable bags are available in LCBO stores and a portion of sales of reusable bags, together with proceeds from other fundraising efforts, go to the LCBO Natural Heritage Fund, which supports community-based projects to preserve or restore wildlife habitat.

Suppliers are encouraged to minimize packaging and LCBO recycles corrugated cardboard, fine paper, newspapers, plastic wrap, batteries, printer cartridges, data tapes and other materials, as well as working to reduce the use of energy in LCBO facilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

To learn more about LCBO’s environmental sustainability initiatives, visit http://www.lcbo.com/enviro/

Q: What is the LCBO Natural Heritage Fund (NHF)?

A: The LCBO Natural Heritage Fund raises money for wildlife habitat restoration and rehabilitation throughout Ontario. Projects have included:

  • restoration of native Ontario Atlantic salmon to Lake Ontario and its tributaries with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH)
  • high complexity burn in the oak savanna communities with the Grand River Conservation Foundation
  • The Friends of the Algonquin Park’s “The Science Behind Algonquin's Animals" website, an interactive learning tool that explores the role of science and technology in both cultural and wildlife research in Algonquin Provincial Park
  • volunteers restoring Tallgrass Prairie on the Rice Lake Plains through the Nature Conservancy of Canada

Funds raised through a portion of sales of reusable bags, together with proceeds from in-store tastings and contributions from LCBO suppliers, go to the LCBO Natural Heritage Fund, which supports community-based projects to preserve or restore wildlife habitat. To date, the NHF has generated over $2 million in funding.

Q: Is the LCBO involved in social responsibility programs related to responsible use of alcohol?

A: As one of Ontario’s largest beverage alcohol retailers, LCBO has a longstanding tradition of selling responsibly and also encouraging customers to serve and consume beverage alcohol products in moderation. Ontarians expect LCBO to sell beverage alcohol in a responsible manner, to prevent sales to minors and intoxicated adults and promote responsible consumption. LCBO social responsibility programs include:

  • Advertising campaigns such as Deflate the Elephant, which encourage Ontarians to speak up to help prevent friends and guests from drinking and driving by providing online responsible hosting scenarios, the interactive Home Bartending Challenge, tips, tools and resources at  www.deflatetheelephant.com
  • Staff training to prevent the sale of alcohol to minors and to persons who are intoxicated, e.g. Challenge & Refusal: It’s not Personal. It’s the Law. program
  • Information campaigns aimed at teenagers, such as Safe Prom, which includes posters, teachers’ educational materials and tips for parents and teens at www.lcbo.com/prom
  • LCBO’s longstanding partnership with MADD Canada, which includes fundraising in LCBO stores to support the production and delivery of MADD Canada’s School Assembly Program. This program will be shown to 900 Ontario schools and over half a million students across the province at no cost whatsoever to the schools. Other social responsibility initiatives include television campaigns and the joint development of Talk to Your Kids about Alcohol website aimed at parents of preteens at: www.talktokidsaboutalcohol.ca
  • Offering responsible hosting tools such as Responsible Hosting Tips and alcohol-free Mocktail recipes for all guests to enjoy
  • • Programs in partnership with other organizations, including the annual Drive Safe campaign in association with the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and alcohol and pregnancy awareness in partnership with Best Start
  • Please also see: Related Sites.

Q: How does the LCBO assist charities with fundraising?

A: The LCBO is required by the Liquor Control Act to transfer net profits to the province of Ontario. These revenues help pay for Ontario roads, schools, hospitals and other important social programs and services.

While it may not make cash donations or sponsor events, LCBO and its employees are committed to assisting charitable organizations. In 2012, LCBO raised a total of $6.6 million for various charities through special programs and initiatives driven by customers, employees and the LCBO’s province-wide donation box program. This included $6.1 million for various provincial and numerous local charities through in-store fundraising. Of this, $2.84 million was for the United Way Centraide. Charitable organizations interested in the LCBO’s fundraising programs can learn more about the program and application process by visiting: http://www.lcbo.com/socialresponsibility/worthycauses.shtml.

Q: Where can I find information about responsible hosting?

A: LCBO offers a variety of tips, tools and resources to help hosts plan safe get-togethers. We encourage you to visit www.deflatetheelephant.com to participate in an interactive Home Bartending Challenge and download tips and checklists. This website offers responsible hosting tips, myths and facts about alcohol, responsibilities as host, risks and safety information, as well as delicious alcohol-free Mocktail recipes for all guests to enjoy. It also offers links to other useful websites, including MADD Canada’s Being Sued can Ruin a Good Party

Q: I brought home a bottle of wine and it did not taste right: What should I do? 

A: Customers can return any products to the LCBO without a receipt if they believe the product is defective. Please note: receipts are required if you are returning resaleable, unopened items.

Q: What safeguards are in place to protect an individual’s privacy when using an AIR MILES® Rewards card?

A: Information collected through AIR MILES® Rewards is held by LoyaltyOne Inc., which passes on to the LCBO information on buying patterns. LCBO does not receive information on individuals. For more information, please see: AIR MILES® Reward Program.

Q: Has the LCBO won any awards?

A: Since 2000, LCBO has received more than 200 awards for customer service, staff training and development, store design, marketing, innovative retailing, corporate communications and social responsibility.

These include 13 Retail Council of Canada Excellence in Retailing Awards, including Innovative Retailer of the Year, Socially Responsible Retailer of the Year, Retail Technology Award and Retail Store Design (Large Retailer category).

Members of LCBO’s Senior Team have also been commended for outstanding contributions in their respective fields.

Bill Kennedy, Executive Director, Corporate Communications, received MADD Canada's Citizen of Distinction Award in September 2010 for championing LCBO's efforts to promote responsible drinking, help prevent drinking and driving and raise funds for MADD Canada.

Drinks Ontario, the association representing imported wine, spirits and beer agents, has recognized several members of LCBO management with its Industry Partnership Award for their efforts in enhancing the profile of imported beverage alcohol products in the Ontario marketplace. Recipients include: *Tom Wilson, Vice President, VINTAGES (2010); *Bob Downey, Senior Vice-President, Sales and Marketing (2009); Dr. George Soleas, Senior Vice President, Logistics/Quality Assurance (2008); Greg Dunlop, Category Manager, European (2007); Shari Mogk-Edwards, then Vice President, Merchandising (2006).

In 2009, The Niagara Wine Festival named *Bob Downey the RBC Financial Group‘s Business Citizen of the Year.

In 2007, Nancy Cardinal, Vice President, LCBO Marketing and Customer Insights, earned the Top Integrated Marketer Award from Strategy Magazine. Hugh Kelly, LCBO Senior Vice President, LCBO Information Technology, was named Chief Information Officer of the Year through the Canadian Information Productivity Awards. Also in 2007, *Andy Brandt, former LCBO Chair and CEO, was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Legends.

*Denotes staff members who have since retired from LCBO

Recent awards include:

  • LCBO’s Broadcast Production Group received a bronze Telly Award in the online video/webisode category for its portrayal of Niagara winemaker Norm Hardie. Since there is no gold Telly offered in this category, the group actually scored a second-place standing.
  • LCBO’s Sales & Marketing Division won a design award for an interactive micro-site from Applied Arts, Canada’s visual communications magazine. The site was developed to help men host a successful get-together during a thematic highlighting a premium spirits collection.
  • LCBO’s Sales & Marketing Division received two bronze medals for its 2011 Whisky Rocks campaign from the Canadian Marketing Association.
  • LCBO’s Supply Chain won the Technology Award at the Retail Council of Canada’s 2012 Excellence in Retailing celebrations for its deployment of QLogitek’s systems to schedule warehouse appointments and automate purchase orders.
  • Jody Dunn, manager/editor of FOOD & DRINK magazine, earned a Gold Award in the Media and Publishing category in 2012 from the Ontario Hostelry Institute in recognition of the magazine’s contribution to the hospitality industry.
  • LCBO’s Sales & Marketing Division earned two bronze awards in the Retail Category for its goLOCAL campaign which promoted Ontario wines and its Cocktail thematic. The 2011 awards were presented by the Canadian Marketing Association.
  • LCBO’s Broadcast Production Group earned a silver (first place) Telly Award for its LCBO Safety video and a bronze (second place) Telly Award for Challenge & Refusal: It’s Not Personal, It’s the Law in 2011. Both videos were in the “Film and Video” category. The Telly Awards honour the very best local, regional and cable television programs as well as the finest video and film productions.
  • LCBO’s flagship store in Oakville was recognized for its “thoughtful design with cutting edge features” by the Retail Council of Canada in the Retail Store Design, Large Retailer category. The LCBO tied with Staples Canada for the award in 2011.
  • LCBO’s Contact Centre (now called helloLCBO) was among the top three finalists for Best Contact Centre in the Americas under 50 agents in ContactCentreWorld.com’s annual global competition in 2011. ContactCentreWorld.com is a global association of contact centre industry professionals and executives.
  • LCBO’s Deflate the Elephant campaign earned a Public Safety Award from the Ontario Safety League in 2011. The award recognizes outstanding contributions that bring to light major safety issues.
  • LCBO’s Sales & Marketing Division earned a bronze award in the Retail Category for its goLOCAL campaign which promoted Ontario wines. The 2010 award was presented by the Canadian Marketing Association.
  • LCBO Store Development & Real Estate won a Gold Maple Leaf award from the International Council of Shopping Centres for LCBO's 321 Cornwall Dr. store in Oakville. The 2010 award was in the Retail Store Design category for store areas in excess of 10,001 square feet.
  • LCBO’s Broadcast Production Group earned a bronze Telly Award for TV spots created for an Ontario Wine goLOCAL promotion in 2010. The international award was in the “Regional TV Commercials – Alcoholic Beverages/Beer” category. The Telly Awards honour the very best local, regional and cable television programs as well as the finest video and film productions.
  • LCBO Store Design & Real Estate won a Silver Maple Leaf award from the International Council of Shopping Centres for its 1838 Avenue Rd. store in Toronto. The 2009 award was in the Retail Store Design category for store areas in excess of 10,001 square feet.
  • LCBO Store Design & Real Estate earned a grand prize in the Specialty Food Retail category from the Association for Retail Environments in 2009.
  • The 2009 Red Wine 101 promotion, created to help demystify red wine buying for LCBO customers, received gold and silver awards from the Canadian Marketing Association.
  • LCBO’s Prom Tips campaign poster, created to remind high school graduates that alcohol doesn’t belong at their celebrations, was a winner in the Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario Design@Work Competition in 2008.
  • The 2008 Wine 101 promotion, created to help demystify wine buying for LCBO customers, was honoured by the Canadian Marketing Association with a bronze award in the Retailing category.
  • LCBO Store Design & Real Estate placed first in the Specialty Food Shop Category, an award presented by the Institute of Store Planners and Visual Merchandising & Store Design Magazine in 2008.
  • LCBO was named “Integrated Marketer of the Year” by Strategy Magazine in 2008.

Q: Has the LCBO conducted customer surveys?

A: Large-scale customer satisfaction surveys show that 80 per cent of our customers rate their overall shopping experience as an eight or higher on a 10-point scale.

A customer Tracking Study is conducted annually and based on in-depth interviews with 2,500 people across Ontario who say they are the primary LCBO customer in their households. In 2012-13, 81 per cent of customers said they find it easy to move around LCBO stores; 74 per cent said the LCBO offers a wide selection of products; and 74 per cent found the staff to be friendly and outgoing.

Q: The LCBO has a reputation for having a good quality assurance program. How do you test the alcoholic beverages to be sold in Ontario?

A: In the interests of consumer protection, LCBO Quality Assurance conducts more than 500,000 laboratory tests on more than 23,000 different beverage alcohol products and performs sensory evaluations on more than 7,400 products each year. This ensures products purchased and sold by the LCBO are safe for consumption, good quality, authentic and compliant with federal and provincial standards for composition, labelling and packaging.

The Quality Assurance department is internationally recognized. Since 2000, the department has been registered to ISO 9001 and the laboratory has been further accredited with ISO/IEC 17025 certification, a standard specific to testing laboratories. (These are accreditations from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), a worldwide federation of national standards bodies from some 130 countries, based in Geneva, Switzerland.)

Please note: All data as reported in the LCBO Annual Report for fiscal 2012-2013.


 
   
 
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