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Beer Store planning to 'thrive and adapt' as Ontario announces changes to alcohol sales starting this summer

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The Beer Store says it is looking forward to the next stage in its “evolution” as the province rolls out an accelerated timeline for expanding retail alcohol sales in Ontario.

On Friday, Premier Doug Ford announced that Ontario would be expanding the sale of alcohol in grocery stores as soon as Aug. 1, when grocery stores which are already licensed will be allowed to start selling ready-to-drink beverages as well as large-pack sizes of beer.

Convenience stores will then be allowed to start selling beer, cider, wine and ready-to-drink beverages as early as Sept. 5 and as of Oct. 31, all eligible grocery and big box stores will be able to sell beer, cider, wine and ready-to-drink beverages, including large-pack sizes.

As part of an agreement reached with The Beer Store to expand alcohol sales ahead of schedule, it will reimburse the conglomerate up to $225 million.

"With today's announcement, we look forward to the next stage in The Beer Store's evolution. The Beer Store will be transformed, where our role as primary distributor and recycling steward takes center stage while maintaining a competitive retail footprint," Beer Store CEO Roy Benin said in a written statement.

A one-time initial payment of $22.5 million will be made to make sure The Beer Store has enough funds to cover early implementation costs, the province has said.

A master framework agreement (MFA) signed in 2015 under the previous Liberal government limited the expansion of beer and wine sales in the province and was set to expire in 2025.

As per a previous agreement, The Beer Store will continue to be the distribution of beer to retailers, bars and restaurants until at least 2031.

The statement went on to say that The Beer Store will scale up its distribution fleet and network to increase service to approximately 10,000 private sector outlets, an increase of about 8,500 outlets.

"The announcement acknowledges The Beer Store's pivotal role as the primary distributor of beer in Ontario and underscores its unwavering commitment to responsible beer sales," a statement from the Beer Store read.

"This commitment is embodied through its recycling program and the Ontario Deposit Return Program, which will continue until at least 2031, ensuring a sustainable future for Ontario's beverage alcohol marketplace." 

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