LCBO says sales reached record $5.57B last fiscal year

The LCBO says its sales reached a record $5.57 billion last year and three out of its top five selling stores are in Toronto.

CEO says LCBO to face more 'competitive landscape' next year

Three of the top five selling LCBO stores are in Toronto. (David Donnelly/CBC)

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario says its sales reached a record $5.57 billion last year and three out of its top five selling stores are in Toronto.

The provincial agency said its financial results for fiscal 2015-16 show a net sales growth of 6.8 per cent. It sold $2.13 billion worth of spirits, $1.96 billion worth of wine, including vintages, $1.18 billion worth of beer and cider, and $88.5 million worth of gift cards. The sales of beer and cider rose by 11.7 per cent, the largest increase of any category. 

The LCBO transferred a dividend of $1.935 billion to the Ontario government, $130 million more than the year before. Net income for 2015-16 was $1.97 billion, an increase of 8.2 per cent. The agency said it was the 21st year of record sales.

"In the year ahead, LCBO will face a more competitive landscape, but by continuing to invest in training our frontline staff as product knowledge experts, innovations like e-commerce, and upgrading and expanding our store network, LCBO is well-positioned to deliver an excellent shopping experience and financial dividends for the people of Ontario,"  LCBO President and CEO George Soleas said in a statement.

Its top five selling stores are: the Queens Quay store in Toronto with $51.1 million in sales, the Summerhill store in Toronto with $47.2 million; the Rideau Street and King Edward Avenue store in Ottawa with $30.4 million; the Laird Drive and Eglinton Avenue East store with $29.3 million; and the store at Weston Road and Highway 7 in Woodbridge with $27.9 million.

"Fiscal 2015-16's record numbers are the result of a continued focus on helpful and knowledgeable customer experiences, expense management and positive market conditions," Soleas said.

Genevieve Tomney, media relations co-ordinator for the LCBO in Toronto, said the LCBO will likely face more competition from grocery stores as the marketplace for alcohol grows in Ontario.

"It's an expanded marketplace," she said. "We are seeing other avenues where people can buy beer, and soon, cider and wine."

Last fiscal year, the LCBO become the wholesale supplier of beer in grocery stores. Sales of beer to grocery stores for four months, which started in December 2015, reached a total of $7.9 million. Later this year, the LCBO will be the wholesale supplier of cider and wine in grocery stores.

Tomney said the financial results show the growing popularity of cider in the province.

"The industry has just grown so much," she said. "We are working with Ontario cider producers to help foster that growth. It doesn't hurt that the product is really good. Some of the world's best ciders are made right here in Ontario."

Sales of Ontario cider have more than quadrupled within the last three years, with a total of $17.6 million sold in fiscal 2015-16. 

Craft ciders, almost a third of these sales, grew 54 per cent over last year with sales of $5.1 million. Single-serve cans account for 72 per cent of all cider sales and almost all of the growth. 

Sales of Ontario craft spirits rose 64 per cent to $3.7 million while sales of Ontario craft beer rose 35 per cent to $69 million.