Help for starting alcohol production and import!

Discussion in 'Starting a Business' started by jallo10, Apr 6, 2010.

  1. jallo10

    jallo10
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    Hello everyone! This site is great and very helpful for entrepreneurs so thank you to everyone involved in it.
    I am a Canadian and I plan on opening a bar in Montreal in the next year. The liquor I want to sell exclusively is produced by locals in my home country in Europe. This is actually what I will be focusing on; the bar is more of way to distribute the product. The recipe for the liquor (which I wish to keep unidentified; it is similar to vodka) is actually a family one but most of the locals would know how to do it. The country isn't yet in the European Union so they can still produce without licenses and sell it during local events. What I want to know is:
    1. Should I consider starting an liquor production in the country or purchase it from the locals?
    2. If I purchase it from the locals, how should I proceed in making sure they sell it exclusively to me and that they deliver the amount promised?
    3. How to register the liquor and then import it into Canada?
    I have actually a lot more questions but this is the most essential for now. I am aware that this will be expensive but I really believe in this product and have saved up a lot to make it happen. However, I am unsure on how to do this. I tried reading up on the history of other liquors like vodka but I am still unclear on how I should proceed. Any advice would be great even if it’s just to tell me where to go to get the proper advice!
    Thank you in advance.
     
  2. Fergal

    Fergal
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    Hi jallo10, welcome to Business Advice Forum, thanks for joining and for asking your business questions. If your main focus is on importing and distributing the liquor from your own country, are you sure that you want to open a bar? What's to stop you from becoming a drink distributor for that produce, from your own country? You could sell the product to existing bars and off-licences, without having to open a bar of your own.

    You might want to cost both options. Do some financial projections for each option and take a view as to which one is likely to be the most profitable.

    An advantage of sourcing the product from your home country in Europe would be that your set-up costs and overheads would be much lower than if you set up a manufacturing facility in Canada. You could start the business by importing the product and see how it works out, in terms of demand and the sales that you achieve. If the business is very successful you could begin production in Canada, at a later date.

    Another possible advantage of importing from Europe is that your customers might consider the product to be more authentic and exciting. This could help your brand image and sales.

    This could be achieved by signing contracts with each of your suppliers. The written contracts would stipulate that they only sell to you and commit them to supplying a certain quantity every month or year. Your suppliers would probably want something from you, in return for making this commitment. They may require that you commit to purchasing a certain quantity from them every month or year.

    You would have to speak to your local authorities in relation to that one. Is there a vintners association in your area, that you could contact? Find out which organisation is responsible for licensing alcohol sales and pubs in your area and then contact them with your questions. If these organisations can't help you, they should be able to refer you to whoever can.

    You might also consider contacting your government or state department of enterprise or trade (I'm not sure what the correct term is for your government department that deals with business and commercial issues).

    Good luck with everything. Please post back with your thoughts and further questions.
     
  3. jallo10

    jallo10
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    Thank you! And yes, setting up a distillery is quite complicated in Canada.
    Concerning purchasing and all, in Quebec, I believe it is the SAQ (something like the society of alcohol in Quebec) and is actually the only place that sales alcohol except beer outside of restaurants and bars. They are the ones that choose what can be brought in also.
     

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