BC liquor license experts at Rising Tide Consultants are working more with agents and liquor manufacturers to navigate the often rough terrain of BCLDB (BC Liquor Distribution Branch) requirements and processes. Agents and manufacturers who go it alone, frequently find themselves facing complexity, decisions they don’t fully understand, and unfairness.

The following article demonstrates why liquor manufacturers and agents seek the services of Rising Tide Consultants. Our in-depth knowledge of Liquor Distribution Branch policies and procedures drastically reduces complexity and helps our clients put forth successful applications.

Having Rising Tide on your side means:

  • You’ll understand what is required before investing time and money.
  • Because of our expertise, all requirements, documentation and BC Liquor Distribution Branch communications will be clear.
  • We liaise with BCLDB on your behalf, reducing misunderstandings, frustration and time spent, while increasing your chances of success.
  • We can come in and provide training on BCLDB administration procedures and policies.

BCLDB – Black Box Decisions and Total Control

Currently, the BC Liquor Distribution Branch:

  • Can refuse to register a product, which means there are hundreds of products that private retailers don’t even see or know about.
  • Has few people making big decisions. Too few people have too much power.
  • Controls the purchase orders of product. BCLDB decides how much product they bring in and when to bring it in.

Historical Unfairness to Craft Brewers and Private LRS, Perceived Bias Toward Big Brands

  • BC craft breweries have had it tough in recent years. 2015 changes to BCLDB wholesale pricing policies made it more difficult for new craft brewery products to get onto BC liquor store shelves, reduced brewers’ profit margins, and, older craft breweries seem to have an advantage according to the CBC article “BC craft beer prices driven up by government policies, says brewers“.
  • BCLDB controls the final price and money from recent increases is not passed onto breweries. The end result: more profit for the government, less for craft breweries. Changes in its wholesale pricing and liquor policies brought forward by the B.C. Government put small B.C. craft breweries at a disadvantage, and risk compromising the viability of this nascent industry — from a Media Release sent by the office of BC MLA, Andrew Weaver. Read the “What’s Brewing” online magazine article “Recent Craft Beer Price Hike$” for an insider’s view of the effect BC government liquor pricing policies have had on craft breweries.
  • Increasingly difficult for private LRS (Liquor Retail Store) to make a profit selling craft beer because of decreased margins. Although changes to the wholesale model were presented by the government as ‘leveling the playing field’ between the LRS and government run BC Liquor stores (GLS), the reality has been very different. Prior to April 1st an LRS received a 16%subsidy on wholesale costs. Now they are being charged the same price as a GLS (Government Liquor Store). By removing the subsidy that allowed the LRS to purchase liquor at a slightly reduced price, they have reduced the ability of these small businesses to stock local craft beer at a rate competitive with their government-owned counterparts — Andrew Weaver, BC MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head and Deputy Leader of the BC Green Party.
  • BCLDB may be influenced by big companies (e.g. Molson, Labatt, Mark Anthony) who therefore have an advantage over small manufacturers.

In response to much criticism of its wholesale pricing policy changes, in July 2016, the BC government reduced mark-up rates for craft brew products.

Complex and Inefficient Processes

  • BCLDB administration work in the last 10 years has increased in complexity. It’s no longer a quick, one-page sheet that you fax when complete. It’s become a three-page document that requires projected sales and proposed media, in addition to other changes.
  • Extremely slow response time to customer’s phone calls and emails. Our clients have told of many examples of BCLDB officials not returning correspondence for many months. 14 months in one case!
  • BCLDB slow response time combined with their control over POs means that products are held up in warehouses resulting in lost sales, stale product, retail store stocking issues, and profit loss.
  • Correspondence within the BCLDB organization is poor. Very often, agents and manufacturers have to re-explain their story or issue to each person they speak with at BC Liquor Distribution Branch. There does not appear to be a history logged – a case of the “right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing” according to clients we’ve assisted.

BC Agents and Manufactures Get Expert Guidance from Rising Tide Consultants

As you may have experienced, BC is a tumultuous environment for liquor agents and manufacturers. Rising Tide Consultants can help you with licensing, product registration, and intervene on your behalf when communicating with the BCLDB. Contact us for a consultation today!

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