About the LCBO

LCBO Store

Overview

The LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) is an Ontario government enterprise and one of the world’s largest buyers and retailers of beverage alcohol. Through 639 retail stores, catalogues, special order services and over 217 agency stores which provide cost effective, convenient and socially responsible access for rural consumers, the LCBO offers nearly 24,000 products annually to consumers and licensed establishments from more than 80 countries.

In 2013-14, LCBO sales exceeded $4.997 billion and delivered a $1.74 billion dividend to the Ontario government, not including taxes. This revenue helps pay for health care, education, infrastructure and other important government services.

LCBO staff trained in responsible service challenged 11.4 million people who appeared underage or intoxicated in 2013-14, and refused service to more than 414,600 individuals, mostly for reasons of age. The LCBO has also produced 15 successive paid advertising campaigns to prevent drinking and driving, including the current “Deflate the Elephant” commercials.

The LCBO Quality Assurance laboratory conducts 500,000 tests annually on more than 22,000 different products. This helps ensure that all products sold by the LCBO and Ontario winery outlets and beer stores comply with the federal Food and Drugs Act and Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and their related regulations as well as the LCBO’s high standards for quality and taste.

In 2013-14, the LCBO raised a record total of more than $8.2 million for charitable organizations through initiatives driven by LCBO employees and supported by the generous donations of customers through in-store prompted and donation box campaigns.

The LCBO has won more than 200 awards since 1990 in customer service, innovative retailing, social responsibility, staff training, store design, marketing, IT, logistics and corporate communications. 

History

2013 (estimated figures)

Despite severe winter weather and continued soft sales throughout the retail sector, LCBO expects to deliver another record dividend of $1.74 billion to the government of Ontario, thanks in large part to careful expense control, operational efficiencies and sales growth from effective marketing and new and upgraded stores (audited data to be released later in 2014).

LCBO opened 25 new stores across the province to better serve its customers, and also launched the first three Our Wine Country Ontario boutiques (Windsor, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls), a new in-store concept which provide a tremendous opportunity for smaller wineries to elevate the profile of their VQA products, and for LCBO customers to learn about Ontario’s wine regions, appellations, varietals and styles and enjoy a unique Ontario wine shopping experience.

Through LCBO’s Check 25 and Challenge and Refusal programs, vigilant frontline retail staff challenged more than 11.4 million individuals and refused more than 414,600, primarily for lack of valid ID.

2013 saw a new record of over $8.2 million raised by customers and employees through coin boxes and prompted donations to benefit many local, provincial and national charities. The LCBO also collected donations on behalf of the Canadian Red Cross to support relief efforts after the April cottage country flood and November’s Typhoon Haiyan, which caused extensive damage in the Philippines.

2012

The final chapter of LCBO’s 2008-13 Strategic Plan yielded another successful year, thanks to operational efficiency and store network improvements which helped push net sales to a record high of $4.892 billion. This figure represents a $182 million – or 3.9 per cent – increase from 2011. This sales growth outpaced the Canadian and Ontario retail sectors. Seasonally adjusted retail sales increased 2.5 per cent year-over-year for all of Canada while Ontario retail sales grew by 1.6 per cent in calendar 2012.

LCBO transferred an all-time high $1.7 billion dividend (not including taxes) to the Ontario government, up $70 million (4.3 per cent) from the previous year. Net income rose $53 million to $1.711 billion, an increase of 3.2 per cent.

During 2012-13, LCBO opened 12 new stores, relocated 16 and carried out major upgrades on two outlets. Sales generated from these new and renovated stores contributed an estimated $30.5 million in additional sales.

Ontario wine and craft beer both experienced strong sales growth. Ontario wines rose by 5.4 per cent, while Ontario craft beers led all beer segments with 33 per cent growth.

VINTAGES, LCBO's fine wine and premium spirits business unit, saw sales rise 3.5 per cent or $15 million over the previous year to $434 million.

Key product sales trends in 2012-13 (excluding Private Ordering):

  • Spirits sales rose 2.3 per cent to $1.97 billion (imported spirits rose 4.4 per cent)
  • Wine sales rose 5.2 per cent to $1.75 billion (whites up 5.9 per cent, reds up 4.1 per cent)
  • Beer sales rose 3.9 per cent, totalling $923 million
  • LCBO gift card sales were up $10.8 million or 20.7 per cent from 2011-12, totalling $62.9 million.

During 2012-13, LCBO retail staff challenged more than 7.8 million people who appeared underage or intoxicated. More than 322,000 were refused service. Eighty-four per cent of refusals were for reasons of age.

More than $6.6 million was raised for worthy causes in 2012 through customer donations at LCBO checkouts and employee fundraising campaigns.

2011

Efforts to promote go local marketing paid off in 2011 with Ontario craft beer and VQA table wine sales climbing nearly 45 per cent and nine per cent, respectively, over 2010.

Overall, LCBO achieved a 4.9 per cent sales increase in 2011, outpacing both the Canadian and Ontario retail sectors. Seasonally adjusted retail sales increased 4.5 per cent year-over-year for all of Canada while Ontario retail sales grew by 3.4 per cent. Net sales totalled $4.710 billion, up $218 million from 2010, As a result, LCBO transferred an all-time high $1.63 billion dividend, not including taxes, to the Ontario Government, representing an $80 million – or 5.2 per cent – increase from the previous year. Net income totalled $1.658 billion, up $98 million (6.3 per cent), from 2010.

It was LCBO’s 17th straight year of record sales and 18th consecutive record dividend. These financials have yet to be audited. LCBO revenues help the provincial government pay for health care, education, social programs, infrastructure and other important government services.

VINTAGES, LCBO’s fine wine and premium spirits business unit, saw sales rise to $425 million, up 10.2 per cent, over the previous year’s total of $386 million.

In 2011, LCBO opened 13 new stores and carried out major upgrades on two outlets. These retail improvements contributed some $14.5 million in additional sales.

During 2011-12, LCBO retail staff challenged 6.3 million people who appeared underage or intoxicated. More than 290,000 were refused service. Eight-four per cent of refusals were for reasons of age.

Deflate the Elephant, LCBO’s social responsibility campaign, featured a “Home Bartending Challenge,” a Facebook pledge photo contest and TV commercials during the summer and holiday season encouraging hosts to help prevent their guests from drinking and driving. It was LCBO’s 13th annual social responsibility campaign.

More than $6.2 million was raised for worthy causes in 2011 through customer donations at LCBO checkouts and employee fundraising campaigns.

2010

As the economy improved, the LCBO saw greater demand for premium wines, spirits and craft beers. Overall sales increased by 5.6 per cent to a record $4.55 billion, enabling us to deliver a $1.55 billion dividend to the provincial government. This figure does not include $646 million in GST, HST, excise taxes and import duties. When payments to municipalities were included, the total was $2.3 billion. Net income rose $127 million to $1.56 billion, up 8.8 per cent.

LCBO opened 19 new stores and carried out major upgrades to 32 outlets. These retail improvements contributed about $18 million in additional sales.

The LCBO broadened its core values and employee promise to further entrench workplace health and safety into its culture. This means increasing our awareness, planning communication and actions to keep the LCBO workplaces and employees healthy and safe. It’s a commitment that will be maintained with the same vigilance as social responsibility and customer service.

LCBO staff challenged nearly 3.6 million people who appeared underage or intoxicated, up almost 35 per cent from the previous year. More than 192,000 were refused service – a 24 per cent increase – with 82 per cent for reasons of age.

More than $5.4 million was raised for worthy causes and disaster relief efforts in 2010 through customer donations at LCBO checkouts and employee fundraising campaigns.

LCBO’s highly successful social responsibility campaign, Deflate the Elephant, was expanded to include an iPhone application and a Facebook page to encourage hosts to help prevent their guests from drinking and driving. 

2009

The LCBO delivered its 16th record dividend – $1.41 billion – to the provincial government for health care, education, social programs, infrastructure and other important government services. This figure, which does not include taxes, was $10 million (0.7 per cent higher) than the previous year. Our net sales also set a new record at $4.3 billion, 0.9 per cent higher than the year before. The provincial, federal and municipal governments also received $874 million in taxes, import duties and payments to municipalities.

During this fiscal year, LCBO staff challenged more than 2.6 million people who appeared underage or intoxicated, up 9.8 per cent from 2008. Some 155,000 were refused service, a four per cent increase, the vast majority for reasons of age.

On June 23, the eve of a strike deadline set by the Liquor Board Employees Division of OPSEU, LCBO stores experienced their heaviest sales day in history. Customers spent a total of $56 million. A tentative agreement was reached between both sides that was later ratified by union members, approved by the LCBO Board of Directors and subsequently passed by the Government of Ontario through an Order-In-Council.

The “goLOCAL” thematic campaign was reintroduced and this promotion led to $26.7 million in net sales – a year-over-year increase of 10.4 per cent.

In November, LCBO launched its new social responsibility ad campaign Deflate the Elephant which encourages friends and families to play a proactive role in helping prevent people from driving while intoxicated. The ads acknowledge that drinking and driving can be “the elephant in the room” and, with the help of an interactive challenge (www.deflatetheelephant.com), offers suggestions on how to broach this awkward topic and help deter drinking and driving.

In a testament to the generosity of LCBO customers and staff, a record $1.9 million was raised for the United Way, surpassing last year’s total by 25 per cent.

Staff at all LCBO stores raised a record $1.8 million for MADD Canada and four Ontario children’s hospitals in December. The amount surpassed the 2008 total by almost $1 million. As well, LCBO employees and customers raised $571,000 for the Canadian Red Cross Haiti 

2008

In 2008, LCBO launched its new Five-Year Strategic Plan for 2008-13 with the theme, “Living the Brand,” which serves as LCBO’s strategic blueprint.

Net sales topped $4 billion ($4.27 billion) for the second consecutive year. LCBO also delivered a record $1.4 billion dividend, not including taxes, to the Ontario government.

LCBO staff challenged some 2.4 million people who appeared underage or intoxicated, up 17.5 per cent from 2007. Some 149,000 were refused service, an 11 per cent increase, the vast majority for reasons of age.

During this fiscal year, LCBO continued to introduce significant environmental initiatives. In May, plastic bags were phased out in all stores to encourage customers to opt for reusable alternatives. This policy eliminated some 80 million plastic bags. Sales and Marketing also encouraged suppliers to offer more products in lightweight packaging. LCBO’s new Scarborough store marked another environmental initiative, as the first using many Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) features, such as energy and potable water reduction.

In September, LCBO partnered with the Ontario wine industry to launch “Go Local,” LCBO’s largest domestic wine promotion to date. Sales grew by 10.4 per cent over the previous year and VINTAGES sales jumped 11.1 per cent. Consumer enthusiasm for Ontario wines was also reflected in year-end numbers indicating a 6.4 per cent sales increase.

In October, vintagesshoponline was launched, offering premium products exclusively to online shoppers in small lots of special interest to collectors.

2007

Sales in 2007 were $4.1 billion and the LCBO delivered a $1.345 billion dividend to the Ontario government. This did not include $382 million in PST, $119 million in GST and $339 million in excise and import duties. When payments to municipalities were added, the total was $2.2 billion.

LCBO staff challenged more than two million people who appeared underage or intoxicated, up 11 per cent. More than 134,000 were refused service, a nine per cent increase, the vast majority for reasons of age.

Considerable progress was made on the LCBO’s environmental program, including support of Bag it Back, the Ontario government’s new deposit return program, in which deposits on purchases made at the LCBO are refunded at The Beer Store when products are returned. More than 250 million beverage alcohol containers were returned in the first year.

The number of products in alternative packaging increased to almost 200, enabling the LCBO to meet its goal of eliminating 10 million kilograms of packaging waste per year – a full two years ahead of schedule.

2006

In 2006, LCBO sales were a record $3.6 billion and the dividend paid to government a record $1.2 billion. Including PST, GST, excise taxes, import duties and payments to municipalities, the total was more than $2 billion.

Improvements to the LCBO supply chain resulted in improved inventory management, more frequent product turns and a $100 million reduction in inventory investment while substantially growing sales, and earned the LCBO two Advancement in Supply Chain Awards from the Retail Council of Canada.

2005

Net sales reached $3.5 billion and the annual dividend hit a record $1.115 billion, not including taxes. This was the 10th straight record dividend and the second annual dividend of more than $1 billion.

A survey of nearly 1,000 readers of Canadian Business magazine named the LCBO one of the top 10 best managed brands in Canada and a Corporate Reputation Study conducted by an independent survey company placed the LCBO 15 out of the top 100 companies in Ontario.

2004

LCBO net sales in 2004 reached $3.3 billion and the annual dividend hits a record $1.04 billion – the ninth straight record dividend. The dividend, together with $308 million in PST and $407 million in GST, excise taxes and import duties and payments to municipalities, amounted to $1.8 billion to help pay for important government services and capital projects. In the past nine years, sales grew 73 per cent and the dividend rose 52 per cent. The LCBO introduced its new Discover the World brand vision, to take customers on a journey of learning and discovery so that informed choices can be made more easily. LCBO received its highest ratings ever from customer satisfaction surveys with 80 per cent of respondents indicating they were highly satisfied or satisfied with LCBO service. Only one per cent said they were dissatisfied.

2003

Revenues since 1991 grew to $3.1 billion from $1.8 billion and the annual dividend increased from $675 million to $975 million. Employees challenged 1.1 million would-be customers because they appeared underage or intoxicated or appeared to be second-party purchasers. Nearly 70,000 were refused service, mostly for age-related reasons. The LCBO Summerhill store, the LCBO’s Toronto flagship liquor outlet, opened in February.

2002

LCBO had a record transfer to the Ontario treasury of a $905 million. The LCBO also collected $270 million in provincial sales tax and $385 million in federal taxes. The Minister of Consumer and Business Services announced an expansion of agency stores, operated in partnership with the LCBO by established retailers in communities without large enough population bases to support regular LCBO or Beer Stores.

2001

LCBO’s Challenge and Refusal program, under which employees ask potential customers for proof of age, challenged more than one million and refused service to 80,000. A groundbreaking ceremony marked the beginning of the restoration of Toronto’s Summerhill store in Toronto, housed in a former train station with grand architectural features, including marble walls, a 40 ft. ceiling, brass wickets and a clock tower. It's the largest store in the LCBO network.

2000

LCBO launched Welcome Home to Ontario Wine Country, a month-long promotion showcasing 74 wines, including 49 premium Ontario VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) wines, the most of any LCBO promotion. Some 6,800 LCBO employees took part inWonderful Ontario Wines – from Vines to Wines, a training program taking employees from all parts of the province on tours of Ontario’s wine regions. LCBO opened a new flagship store in Ottawa at Rideau and King Edward streets. Like the Bayview Village Store in Toronto, it offers the complete range of LCBO products and services, including a separate VINTAGES tasting room. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce honoured the LCBO with an Outstanding Business Achievement Award.

1999

LCBO opened Canada’s largest liquor store in the Bayview Village Plaza in Toronto. It has 20,000 sq. ft. of retail space. The store won Best Layout and Design Award from the Retail Council of Canada. The store also featured many other aspects of LCBO’s “infotainment” initiative.

1998

The Retail Council of Canada named LCBO “Innovative Retailer of the Year” in the large store category for the second year in a row. LCBO adopted a whole branding strategy and began promoting itself as The Source for Entertaining Ideas. LCBO raised $227,000 for Canadian Commonwealth Games athletes during Quest For Glory in-store promotion.

1997

LCBO won two awards – “Innovative Retailer of the Year” and “Socially Responsible Retailer” – in the large store category at the national Excellence in Retailing Awards competition of the Retail Council of Canada. The Innovative Retailer of the Year award acknowledged overall industry leadership and innovative approaches to customer and employee relations. The Socially Responsible Retailer award recognized the LCBO’s efforts in promoting the responsible use of beverage alcohol. LCBO stores were allowed to open on Sundays year-round after several successful pilot programs. LCBO opened a Bottle-Your-Own (BYO) wine facility at its Crossroads Mall store in Toronto as a pilot project.

1996

LCBO introduced BYID (Bring Your Identification) photo ID card to make it easier to determine if customers are of legal drinking age. The new Check 25 program was launched to encourages LCBO employees to ask anyone who appears 25 years or younger for valid proof of age before they are served. LCBO introduced AIR MILES® Rewards as value-added feature for customers. The LCBO transferred $680 million to the Ontario treasury.

1995

LCBO introduced Limited-Time-Offer (LTO) program, offering price reductions of up to 20 per cent on 40 selected products each month. Financial Post Magazine ranked the LCBO as Canada’s most profitable company. LCBO opened a prototype IMAGE store in Toronto’s Manulife Centre. It is the first to feature a demonstration kitchen for cooking presentations and product seminars. LCBO opened a Chinese mini-store in Markham.

1994

LCBO launched debit/credit card pilot project in selected stores. By 1995, all LCBO stores accept debit/credit card payments. LCBO introduced mandatory three-level product knowledge training program for its retail employees. The VINTAGES Classics Cataloguewas launched, allowing consumers to place phone or fax orders for 500 of the world’s premier wines and spirits featured in each edition. Customers rated staff friendliness and helpfulness 9.1 out of 10.

1993

LCBO Shop the World marketing program was launched, presenting major in-store thematic promotions throughout the year. A Value Added program was introduced, allowing suppliers to market products with small add-ons such as miniature bottles and accessories. LCBO’s free customer publication, LCBO Today, was revamped as FOOD & DRINK, offering more information on food and beverage matching, recipes and responsible hosting tips.

1992

The first LCBO mini-store opened in Toronto’s First Canadian Place. Refrigerated displays offering chilled products were introduced in LCBO stores. LCBO introduced tutored tastings in selected stores as a customer education feature. LCBO formed an alcohol task force with government and enforcement agencies to combat illicit alcohol trade. A computerized inventory and cash register system was introduced throughout the LCBO store network. A point-of-sale (POS) project was installed in virtually all LCBO stores.

1991

LCBO revamped its top 140 performing stores to make them more customer friendly and to portray a consistent new corporate image. A new computer system linking all LCBO stores, warehouses and LCBO head office was completed.

1989

A new $1.7 million LCBO Quality Assurance laboratory opened.

1988

Chairman Jack Ackroyd toured the province, conveying to employees the changes being brought about by Project ’87, an action program based on recommendations by management consultant firm William Mercer Associates. The focus moved LCBO from a control-based distributor to a customer-focused retailer.

1986

The LCBO unveiled a new logo.

1985

The first in-store merchandising program was introduced; the Durham Logistics Facility opened for business; the first VINTAGES store opened.

1978

The legal drinking age in Ontario was increased to 19.

1975

LCBO was incorporated as a Crown Corporation.

1972

The first Rare Wines and Spirits store, predecessor to VINTAGES, opened.

1971

40-oz. bottles were introduced as well as 80-oz. wine jugs and miniatures.

1971

The legal drinking age in Ontario was reduced to 18 from 21.

1969

The first self-serve LCBO store opened at 10 South Station St. (Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue area) in Weston, now part of the City of Toronto.

1968

An LCBO training centre conducted a two-day wine tasting seminar – a first for LCBO.

1965

Changes were made to Liquor Licence Act regulations concerning hours of operation of licensed premises. The closing hours, in effect since wartime beer shortage days, were lifted. Beverage rooms throughout Toronto remained open during the former compulsory closing time of 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

1961

Liquor permits required to purchase beverage alcohol were abolished.

1947

The Liquor Licence Board of Ontario (now the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario) was established to grant establishments licences to sell liquor by the glass. The first liquor was sold at the Silver Rail tavern on Yonge Street in Toronto.

1935

Wineries were allowed to operate one wine store off their premises.

1934

Hotel beverage rooms were licensed under the LCBO to sell beer; dining rooms were licensed to sell wine and beer but not liquor.

1927

The LCBO opened 86 stores, three mail order departments and four warehouses.