The SAQ’s private import warehouse has been full for a few weeks, a “critical” situation, according to the state-owned company. Thousands of products could be seized in June because they have been stored there for too long.

“Private Import Warehouse is at capacity,” reads an April 25 newsletter for private import agents. “The situation is critical and we must intervene to restore it as soon as possible,” adds the document signed by Josée Dumas, Director of Supply Management and Merchandising at the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ).

“About 2,500 products out of 12,300” could be seized on June 18, said spokesperson Clémence Beaulieu Gendron in response to questions from La Presse. “That’s approximately 27,000 cases out of 300,000,” she says by email, or 9% of the total. Normally, only 1% of inventory is subject to seizures on an annual basis.

The majority of the bottles seized are sold to employees of the SAQ, which donates the funds to the organization Entraide. Bottles unfit for consumption “are sent to our CRI environment subcontractor who treats the liquid and recycles the glass,” says Beaulieu Gendron.

However, the SAQ says it is sure to “release these products from [its] warehouses before this deadline” with the collaboration of associations linked to agents.

Same story with Catherine Lessard, general manager of A3 Quebec, which represents 77 private import agencies and about half of the sales of these products. “I heard a lot that we were confident that within the next few weeks, with the good weather coming, that there would be a lot of overstock that would come out of the warehouse,” she says. .

“Before the pandemic, we were selling an average of 15,000 cases per week and with a continuous turnover of cases,” explains Ms. Beaulieu Gendron, a number that has of course decreased with the closures of bars and restaurants. Bottles have piled up, so that right now “there are almost 40% more private import products in our warehouse than the year before.”

Sales are back to pre-pandemic levels, but they are “not sufficient to recover from the backlog of the past two years,” the spokesperson noted.

At the same time, normal storage times have been suspended to help agents, who have been struggling to sell with successive waves of closures. Typically, storage charges apply after 150 days, and products are seized after 210 days.

“To help us, they suspended all the meters,” explains Frédéric D’Amours, owner of the Importation Pivot agency, which specializes in beer. So agencies have “had the luxury of leaving our dead wood lying around in the warehouse” since March 2020.

D’Amours thinks the situation will “resolve on its own” with the resumption of foreclosures, but also because “typically, we don’t want to come to that,” he says, citing penalties and other consequences for agencies that miss deadlines. “What happens more often than not is that the agency buys these products as promotional samples. »

“There are several agency sites that promote their private imports, then there is the possibility of ordering, adds Catherine Lessard, so it may be interesting for consumers. »


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