New Liquor Laws – who is ready?


BC LiquorStoreWords: Henry Yuen

Chinese blog: http://taiyangbao.ca/food/430908/

In the business world, managing change is not just a topic or an issue, it is the essential skill and key responsibility required of the managing executives whose main job description includes: to foresee, prepare, plan and handle any changes. Equally important is their ability to minimize the risk associated and the pressure induced due to external and internal changes which are often intertwined.

The wine industry is no different, perhaps more so since it is a highly regulated industry with various levels of government eyeing closely and having a say anytime. Quite often, government’s decision making on various aspects of the business model and any operational shapes and forms, will affect within and beyond the industry. The industry is susceptible and must abide to liquor law changes which they have no control of. At the stroke of the pen or press of a button, the governing ministry would make or break the industry to a certain extend.

That’s exactly what happened recently in BC.  Changes to the liquor law are in the making and will be in effect come April, 2015. Any changes to the antiquated liquor law are supposedly welcoming. Superficially, the upcoming changes seemed to be all positive that received certain accolades; even from some industry players.  However, when changes are made without proper research and investigation; when decisions are pressed without thorough consideration and genuine concern, disapproval, disappointment and even outrage would follow, especially when deficiency in the implementation became inevitable and certain revisions are viewed to be favouring one party over another.

King Heffy draft beerAt the moment, independent wine stores are the ones with the least benefit from these changes. Obviously, the operators are crying foul from their perspective as the governmental changes would create an uneven playing field that challenges their survival as a business. Independent retails versus BC Liquor Stores? More-friendly competition? Giving the public more choices and more convenience?

The concept of allowing grocery stores to sell beer and wine is supposed to provide easier retail access to the public so they can purchase these beverages at their neighbourhood stores. However, the setup requirement and restrictions are so stringent that one wonders how many of these locations would actually come to fruition. So is it all noise and no real effect? Good idea requires good execution to make it successful. So when there are so many “no”, it diminishes the original concept and maybe making no changes might be better for all parties concerned.

BCWI events

The Vancouver International Wine Festival was just here and other wine events are lining up. Judging by the success of the Wine Festival and all the sold out events, the public love their wines. The craft brewery industry is growing and glowing. These should all be promising industries with bright future regardless whether one is involved as a winery operator, a licenced restaurant, a wine merchant, an independent beer & wine store or other capacities of producing and/or promoting beer and wine. It might be true that there is no perfect setup to satisfy each and all parties; however, there is the vital need to secure stability and consistency! It really is not too much to allow for businesses to be part of, to adapt and survive and to benefit from the changes.