While working as a consultant on an engagement with the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch in 1991, I had discussions about privatization with the BCLDB’s executive director. I was commissioned to investigate ways for the BCLDB to become more efficient in their role in the supply chain from importation to delivery.
What became apparent immediately was that the government-run facility was adding little to no value while operating less efficiently and at a higher cost than private companies that specialize in warehousing and distribution.
The hefty income liquor sales provides to B.C. coffers comes from taxation, and it would continue to be payable to the province after privatization. The operational savings from lower warehousing and distribution costs after privatization would, in theory, be passed on to consumers.
I was advised at the time the idea of privatization was a non-starter due to the complications of dealing with a unionized workforce.
If the government has finally found the political will to privatize liquor distribution while retaining its role as policy setter and tax collector, then we should expect improved service levels and lower costs from a supply chain managed by professionals.