Sask. to grant specialty wine franchises

Vintners wanting to market into Saskatchewan may soon have new options as the provincial Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) calls for proposals for its first two specialty wine store franchises.

“These two stores will serve a niche market by providing increased customer service for consumers looking for specialty wines not currently available in SLGA stores,” said Dan D’Autremont, the minister for SLGA, in a release Tuesday announcing a request for proposals (RFP) to be released Dec. 12.

The RFP will call for one wine store franchise each for Regina and Saskatoon. “These two specialty wine store franchises will complement SLGA’s 79 liquor stores that carry a wide range of products for a much more diverse clientele,” D’Autremont said.

Currently, consumers and operators of licensed establishments who want specialty wines not on SLGA’s lists have to place orders through SLGA’s special order desk, with a minimum order of one case and a delivery time of one to three months, depending on the country of origin.

The new wine store franchises will also order through SLGA’s special order desk, but will be able to sell to consumers by the bottle, rather than by the case.

Proposals under the RFP will be evaluated on factors such as knowledge of the industry and an understanding of Saskatchewan’s wine market, business experience, financial plans and site proposals. Final decisions on the winning RFPs are expected by early spring.

Commission for the specialty wine franchises will be 15.3 per cent of purchases for resale, the same as existing liquor franchisees that sell beverage alcohol on behalf of SLGA in communities throughout rural Saskatchewan.

SLGA operates 79 public liquor stores and distributes to 185 private businesses that operate as SLGA liquor franchises, on top of about 450 private “off-sale” outlets (attached to “on-site” businesses such as hotels and brew pubs) that can sell beer, wine and spirits.

“As a businessman, I’m always trying to match my wine selection with what my customers want,” said Curtis Korchinski, owner of The Ivy, a downtown Saskatoon restaurant and lounge, in the province’s release Tuesday.

“Being able to drive to a specialty wine store franchise to pick up products means I won’t have to pre-order as much and find room to store the extra inventory until I need it. The bulk of my liquor order will still come from SLGA stores but I’ll have a more convenient option when it comes to specialty wines.”

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