Virginians drink their way to record year for Va. ABC

By Michael Campbell – News Editor

As craft breweries continue to rise in popularity around the commonwealth, it seems the world of distilled spirits shows no signs of slowing down as the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control marked its 18th consecutive record-breaking year for sales in Fiscal Year 2016.

The fiscal year, which ended on June 30, saw Virginia ABC sales increase to $898 million, up nearly $50 million over the previous year. Profits also saw a nice bump, rising to $165 million, an increase of around #13 million.

In addition, retail sales and licensee sales, specifically sales to restaurants, both saw increases of 5.4 and 7.4 percent respectively during the past fiscal year.

“ABC’s persistent growth in sales and service reflect our successful efforts in adapting to a changing 21st century marketplace,” said ABC Chairman Jeffrey Painter. “Our latest efforts¬—an award-winning website, online sales, marketing campaigns, fresh product mix and innovative store designs—all demonstrate our commitment to taking the strategic actions necessary for reinvestment and advancement of the business to insure long-term stability and growth,” he said.

ABC profits combined with state and general sales taxes as well as wine and beer taxes resulted in an all-time high of $433 million transferred to Virginia’s general fund, $24 million above last year’s contribution.

According to officials, Virginia ABC has now contributed “more than $9.5 billion to the general fund since 1934 to support state services, including substance abuse prevention and treatment.”

Amber-colored liquors led the best-selling list statewide, with Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey taking top spot, followed by Hennessy Very Special (V.S) Cognac and Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon.

Smirnoff (80-proof) Vodka and Fireball Cinnamon Whisky rounded out the top five, respectively.

Of those five, Hennessy V.S saw the most impressive leap in sales, from $18.8 million to $25.2 million, a roughly 34 percent increase over fiscal year 2015.

“Fiscal year 2016 was a banner year for this agency,” said ABC Chief Operating Officer Travis Hill, “and ABC’s dedicated and resourceful employees are credited with these results. We will continue to strive for excellence in the next fiscal year and beyond as we look to make major, critical investments in our business and prepare for our transition to an authority structure in 2018.”

The agency’s financial performance during the fiscal year can be attributed in part to the opening of eight new stores across the state, generating $4.3 million in sales.

ABC’s strategy to continue to grow its store portfolio is a major component of its consistent revenue growth. The agency currently operates more than 360 state stores.

ABC also oversaw eight store remodels and ten store relocations to improved market areas, enhancing customer service and accessibility.

The agency also noted Sunday sales and its role in rising revenue, increasing by $3.3 million or 6.6 percent in fiscal year 2016 to $53 million.

In an earlier statement, officials said Virginia ABC “has grossed more than $300 million in Sunday sales since 2004, when the Virginia General Assembly first passed legislation allowing 95 stores to open in Northern Virginia, Virginia Beach and Norfolk on Sundays.”

Copyright 2016 by Womack Publications

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