The provincially owned entity that operates the province’s liquor business and, soon, cannabis sales, released its year-end financial results on Tuesday.
The Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. reported net income of $238.6 million based on total revenue of $625.7 million for the period from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018.
Although net income was down 0.3 per cent, or $600,000, from the previous year, the total volume of beverage alcohol sold increased 0.9 per cent. Total sales were up $13.8 million or 2.3 per cent in fiscal 2017-18, compared to the previous year.
Net income was down slightly from the previous year, mainly because the NSLC needed to set aside funds to pay for long-term service awards, which will eventually go to employees when they retire, said Beverley Ware, who speaks on behalf of the liquor corporation.
The NSLC’s operating expense ratio for the year — including amortization and depreciation – was 16.4 per cent compared to 16 per cent reported in the prior year.
The total volume of beverage alcohol sold, according to the NSLC figures released on Tuesday, was up 0.9 per cent compared to fiscal 2016-17. This past year, sales of Nova Scotia-produced wine, spirits, and craft beer all increased.
“We experienced a year of strong growth with an increase in sales across all product categories,” NSLC president and CEO Bret Mitchell said in the news release. “A number of factors contributed to that growth, including investing in our store network, hosting popular events and the sale of locally made products.”
Retail customer purchases were up 0.2 per cent, and the average dollar value of each transaction grew by 1.9 per cent, the NSLCnumbers indicated.
Mitchell said the corporation also focused on employee training and development during the fiscal year, as it strives to provide top notch customer service.
Beer still represents the largest percentage of sales, rising by 0.8 per cent to $278.1 million or 44.5 per cent of total sales. However, the total number of hectolitres of beer sold by NSLC only increased by 0.1 per cent. That would seem to indicate that beer is holding on to its percentage of total sales by increasing prices.
Spirits revenue increased by 1.6 per cent to $165.7 million or 26.5 per cent of total sales, the NSLC figures indicated. In hectolitres sold by the liquor corporation, spirits increased by 0.9 per cent.
Wine experienced strong growth in hectolitres sold, 3.2 per cent. Total revenue from the sale of wine increased by 4.7 per cent to $144.5 million, or 23.1 per cent of all sales.
The revenue brought in by the ready-to-drink category — mainly ciders — increase 7.7 per cent to $37. 2 million. Total ready-to-drink sales accounted for 5.9 per cent of all sales. As a percentage of hectolitres sold by the NSLC, that category increased by six per cent.
Liquor corporation stores had total sales of $511.5 million, an increase of $10.6 million in fiscal 2017-18. Bars, restaurants and pubs accounted for $53.1 million in sales for the NSLC, an increase of $600,000.
Independently owned agency stores had sales of $47.6 million, an increase of $1.6 million over the previous year. Privately owned wine and specialty stores had total sales of $12.6 million, an increase of $2.1 million compared to 2016-17.
Wholesale revenue to the NSLC was $900,000, an increase of $200,000 over the previous fiscal period.
The growth in local industry continues to be strong, driven by innovation in the categories, the expansion of businesses and quality products.