Corporation reports another record in sales, revenues

Terry Roberts
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Liquor sales still soaring

Steve Winter admits to wondering when the bubble might burst. But the CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp. (NLC) is in no hurry to see that happen.

The Crown corporation is reporting another record year for sales and revenues, and is also turning over higher dividends to its shareholder - the provincial government - than ever before.

Business -

Steve Winter admits to wondering when the bubble might burst. But the CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp. (NLC) is in no hurry to see that happen.

The Crown corporation is reporting another record year for sales and revenues, and is also turning over higher dividends to its shareholder - the provincial government - than ever before.

Winter is also predicting further growth in the 2010-11 fiscal year.

Total sales of alcohol and other NLC products have ballooned by roughly 35 per cent in the past five years.

That far outpaces national trends, and numbers like that would be the envy of just about any business.

The trend is almost difficult to comprehend when you consider the province's population has declined in the past five years, and prices for NLC products have remained relatively unchanged.

So, how is this possible?

Winter points to a variety of factors for the improving fortunes of the liquor corporation, most notably an increased affluence stemming from growth in industries such as the high-paying oil and gas sector.

In simple terms, people generally have more disposable income, he explained.

And that is also translating into more purchases of higher-end varieties of spirits and wine.

But Winter also credits sound business decisions by the corporation for making the most of its opportunities.

"I think overall we've just done a whole lot of small things a whole lot better, and the consumer has responded very well," Winter said.

"And in the end it means a whole lot more money for the province."

He said the corporation has transformed itself into a "legitimate retailer" by investing in its stores and products, improving training for employees and offering greater selection.

It's also gotten much better at marketing its products, and prices are comparable with other provinces.

"You might find one or two that are cheaper, but that's all," Winter says.

"Overall, we've kept our prices down, yet we have been socially responsible from the perspective that we don't drop our prices very much."

The corporation's earnings, as a percentage of sales, have also gone up, Winter explained.

"What that basically means is that we're making better use of our investments. We're investing to drive business, but we're bringing back more than we invest," he said.

Those doing business with the corporation also seem to be pleased.

Paul Benson is an area manager for Circle K stores, which operates some Liquor Express outlets, including the one at Circle K Irving in Paradise.

He said the NLC has become more "aggressive" and praised it for being more "customer driven."

"We have a really good relationship with them," said Benson.

The record profits are also welcomed by Finance Minister Tom Marshall. With the provincial government now spending more money each year than it takes in, an infusion of $124 million from the NLC is like gold.

That's more money than the province received last year in lottery revenues, mining tax royalties, tobacco taxes and payroll taxes. The money goes into the province's general revenue fund.

In fact, profits from the NLC represent more than two per cent of the revenue that goes into the provincial treasury.

"They've been doing very well," Marshall said. "We're pleased with the results and we're delighted because we want that money to provide very important public programs."




By the numbers

Some facts about the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation:
- $198.8 million - total sales for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010 (unaudited); that's $16 million more than the previous year.
- $209 million - projected sales for the 2010-11 fiscal year.
- $260 million - total revenue for fiscal year ending March 31, 2010.
- $59 million - commission collected by the NLC from breweries for beer sold last year.
- $124 million - total dividend for 2009-10 paid to the provincial government.
- $132 million - forecasted dividend for provincial government for the 2010-11 fiscal year.
- 550 - number people employed by the NLC.
- Source: Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation
troberts@thetelegram.com

Organizations: NLC, Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor, Circle K

Geographic location: Paradise, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Brad
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    Another record in sales and Each year you hear of more people getting caught driving while impaired. Is this just a coincidence?

  • Only If its Taxed
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Some sell addictive drugs on the street, some have a office and call it a job. And its a lucky thing that these people don't really have to work in order to make a profit. At all. Keep your taxes. Next thing they'll be taking a 50 cent worth package of smokes and selling it for 10 or 11 dollars. They don't care if it affects canadians. Then people wonder why there's organized crime. Its all around us. We are the living proof of a society cut from that same fabric.

  • lindy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    no wonder your profits are so high when your profit on a 40 oz bottle of whisky is 100percent.i can buy a 60 oz bottle of canadian whisky in florida for 17 bucks and dont tell me im lying and its rven cheaper at the airport.by the way that liquer is shipped from canada to florida and sold by independant retailers-yuo can fool some of the people some of the time-old saying.

  • citizen of the republic
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    I would like to congratulate Mr. Winter on his well managed company. The NLC stores are a pleasure to shop in. Their attractive lay-out and polite, friendly staff should be an example to many other poorly run, badly organized retail outlets. As it is a crown corporation, the profits from the NLC are put back into the province. The previous comments made by Taxpayer from NL are evidently those of a narrow-minded teetotaler, who is using this forum merely to spread anti-drinking propaganda.

  • Tony
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    Remember when the NLC put millions into renovations of all their stores in the St. John's area ? Yep, shortly later they closed some down and put brand new ones in different locations. You know the era, when office furniture was top of the line at NLC??? Silly Willy from centre city in the 1960's could have made profits as CEO from that Crown Corporation. WANT A FREE BUZZZ????? Go to any NLC store on a Fri ...... Awe you guys know the end of that sentence. Some things never change and this thing never will!! Thank God the Prov. determines how much profit they demand the Corporation turn over for their general revenue pot. RECORD SALES AGAIN??? DUUUUUUUUUUU THIS PROVINCE IS STARTING TO BOOOOM!!!!HARDLY SURPRISING . CHEERS!!!!

  • Taxpayer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    The profit of the NLC is indirectly set by the provincial budget. The corporation must make a certain minimium payment to the province. This then leads back to the profit of the corporation. Winter suggests that they have increased sales by customer service and selling at comparable prices to other provinces. I believe we have seen what happens to people who have brought any amount of liquor from other provinces. As to volume of sales, I remember when purchasers were given a book and a limit to the number of bottles one could buy per week. Mr. Winter should be seen as a politician as that is exactly how his report comes across. Finally I see liquor as merely a legal form of drug and with the anti drinking programs on the go today his sucess is actually a form of failure.

  • Kevin
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Well this is hardly new news. they dont have any competition so why wouldnt they show record profits. I wonder will government put any of those millions into health care?

  • Brad
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    Another record in sales and Each year you hear of more people getting caught driving while impaired. Is this just a coincidence?

  • Only If its Taxed
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    Some sell addictive drugs on the street, some have a office and call it a job. And its a lucky thing that these people don't really have to work in order to make a profit. At all. Keep your taxes. Next thing they'll be taking a 50 cent worth package of smokes and selling it for 10 or 11 dollars. They don't care if it affects canadians. Then people wonder why there's organized crime. Its all around us. We are the living proof of a society cut from that same fabric.

  • lindy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    no wonder your profits are so high when your profit on a 40 oz bottle of whisky is 100percent.i can buy a 60 oz bottle of canadian whisky in florida for 17 bucks and dont tell me im lying and its rven cheaper at the airport.by the way that liquer is shipped from canada to florida and sold by independant retailers-yuo can fool some of the people some of the time-old saying.

  • citizen of the republic
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    I would like to congratulate Mr. Winter on his well managed company. The NLC stores are a pleasure to shop in. Their attractive lay-out and polite, friendly staff should be an example to many other poorly run, badly organized retail outlets. As it is a crown corporation, the profits from the NLC are put back into the province. The previous comments made by Taxpayer from NL are evidently those of a narrow-minded teetotaler, who is using this forum merely to spread anti-drinking propaganda.

  • Tony
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    Remember when the NLC put millions into renovations of all their stores in the St. John's area ? Yep, shortly later they closed some down and put brand new ones in different locations. You know the era, when office furniture was top of the line at NLC??? Silly Willy from centre city in the 1960's could have made profits as CEO from that Crown Corporation. WANT A FREE BUZZZ????? Go to any NLC store on a Fri ...... Awe you guys know the end of that sentence. Some things never change and this thing never will!! Thank God the Prov. determines how much profit they demand the Corporation turn over for their general revenue pot. RECORD SALES AGAIN??? DUUUUUUUUUUU THIS PROVINCE IS STARTING TO BOOOOM!!!!HARDLY SURPRISING . CHEERS!!!!

  • Taxpayer
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    The profit of the NLC is indirectly set by the provincial budget. The corporation must make a certain minimium payment to the province. This then leads back to the profit of the corporation. Winter suggests that they have increased sales by customer service and selling at comparable prices to other provinces. I believe we have seen what happens to people who have brought any amount of liquor from other provinces. As to volume of sales, I remember when purchasers were given a book and a limit to the number of bottles one could buy per week. Mr. Winter should be seen as a politician as that is exactly how his report comes across. Finally I see liquor as merely a legal form of drug and with the anti drinking programs on the go today his sucess is actually a form of failure.

  • Kevin
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    Well this is hardly new news. they dont have any competition so why wouldnt they show record profits. I wonder will government put any of those millions into health care?