In Brief: COVID-19 adds to The Beer Store’s troubles

Plus, M5 will help True Hockey with growth goals as its new AOR and Mike Weir becomes the newest face of Golf Town.

The Beer Store posts another loss

According to The Beer Store’s annual financial statement, the retailer lost $50.7 million in 2020.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is partially to blame, especially when it comes to wholesale services that provide beer and draught services to bars and restaurants, the loss is also due to ongoing competition and changing consumer tastes, which had previously led to declines of $46.5 million in 2019 and $18.1 million in 2018.

The Beer Store at one point controlled 90% of beer sales in Ontario, but is now closer to 60% thanks to expanded beer selections at the LCBO and new competition from grocery stores and bottle shops at craft breweries, as well as ongoing declines in sales volumes of beer overall.

The Beer Store has yet to comment on the results, but as part of its agreement with the province of Ontario, it must operate on a “revenue neutral basis,” meaning any shortfalls need to be covered by things like the sale of assets, cutting costs or having cash provided by its owners. The Beer Store is primarily owned by Molson Coors and Labatt, with a small percentage going to Sleeman and several craft brewers, who were given the option to take a stake in the business in response to calls that it had an unfair monopoly on beer sales in the province.

M5 picks up True Hockey account

After a competitive review that ran through the winter, M5 has been named AOR for hockey equipment brand True Hockey.

Owned by golf company True Temper Sports, True Hockey is best known for its sticks, having sold more than two million since it was founded in 2000. But it is also becoming increasingly known for its skates, which are custom-made and worn by more than 100 NHL players, including 60% of all goalies.

Dave McNally, senior director of sales and marketing for True Hockey, says the company’s focus is further building its brand and increasing penetration with both professional and consumer-level hockey players. M5′s work on the account – which began on April 1 – will utilize the Halifax-based agency’s abilities in brand development, retail, franchisee support and marketing communications, according to Tyler MacLeod, M5′s VP of client services.

Golf Town signs “Canada’s champion” as newest spokesperson

Mike Weir

One of the most decorated golfers to come out of Canada, Weir will sport the retailer’s logo on his bag during tournaments – such as the 2021 Masters, which began Thursday – and appear as part of co-branded content, such as tips for golfers, as part of the multi-year agreement.

While the game of golf has not been hampered by the pandemic as other sports have – the National Golf Course Owners Association Canada reported that the number of rounds played last year was up 62% – it has impacted Golf Town‘s marketing strategy, as the non-essential retailer has had to deal with stores closures throughout the year, as well as public health practices that have hampered what has previously been a highly hands-on retail experience. One of the ways it has adapted its strategy is through digital content, and Weir will join the ranks of ambassadors like Brooke Henderson and Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk, who have been a major part of that approach.