Province to allow third party warehouses to distribute specialty liquor products

The province is changing the law to allow third parties to operate liquor warehouses in Saskatchewan to distribute specialty products.

“We already use Saskatchewan-based third party warehouses to distribute beer and coolers to retailers but have been sourcing many specialty products from warehouses outside the province,” said Gene Makowsky, the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming minister, in a media release.

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“This change will allow such warehouses to set up in Saskatchewan to distribute a broad range of specialty beer, wine and spirits.”

The government said that specialty products account for approximately five per cent of the province’s liquor sales and include products typically ordered in small quantities and often on an irregular basis.

Currently, SLGA orders these products from out-of-province warehouses, receives them and then ships them out to retailers around Saskatchewan via SLGA’s distribution centre. The government said allowing third party warehouses for specialty products will let SLGA focus on the efficient distribution of popular, high volume wines and spirits.

“It’s a positive change for businesses who want to operate in Saskatchewan,” Makowsky said. “It will also mean improved access to these niche products for retailers and their customers.”

The Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union disagrees that third party warehouses would be more efficient.

“If the government wants retailers and consumers to have better access to products, then the most efficient path forward is to have SLGA’s distribution centre stock more products,” said Sharon Friess, chair of SGEU’s SLGA bargaining committee, in a media release.

“Saskatchewan taxpayers have already invested in a state-of-the-art distribution facility. The physical space and the expert staff needed to offer better access to niche products are already in place.”

The union said it is pleased to hear the government say they no job losses at SLGA due to the rule change.

“We’re glad to see the government recognizes the great value that SLGA employees provide, and we will be holding them to the promise that this decision will not cost any of our members their jobs,” Friess said.

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