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LCB nets record revenue because of strong wine sales, revamped stores |

LCB nets record revenue because of strong wine sales, revamped stores

The state Liquor Control Board’s record $2.24 billion in revenue was driven by strong wine sales, revamped state stores and improvements in operations, according to the agency’s annual report released Monday.

The annual report — the second put out by the agency after years without one — showed retail wine and spirits sales grew 3.7 percent in the 2013-14 fiscal year, with Chairman’s Selection wine sales increasing 5.6 percent.

Last year, the agency opened 10 new stores, remodeled 15 and enlarged the store at 5956 Penn Circle South in Pittsburgh’s Shadyside by 35 percent. The 17,000-square-foot mega-outlet, the largest in the state, opened in August.

To date, 62 stores have been revamped, and six are under renovation, the report shows.

The revamped stores feature a new layout, expanded wine and liquor selections, and updated flooring, lighting and other fixtures. On average, customers spend between 10 percent and 30 percent more money in those stores compared to the older versions, said spokeswoman Stacy Kriedeman.

They offer a warmer environment and more comfortable shopping experience, she said.

Additionally, the LCB added at least one retail wine specialist to each of its 75 premium collection stores, the report notes.

“With wine, which can be complex and a little overwhelming, we’ve hired staff to help (customers) … and maybe try something new,” Kriedeman said. “I think that’s all part of the rebranded experience, and it’s had an impact on sales.”

Increases in the LCB’s social media presence and visits to its online website also drove sales, along with advertisements on 45 radio stations, 55 TV stations, 10 newspapers, five magazines and more than 500 websites, figures show.

The 70-page report provides a detailed look at a state agency that’s often the subject of debate and discussion but still isn’t universally understood by residents, LCB Chairman Joseph “Skip” Brion has said. It provides an in-depth look at the agency’s structure, finances, real estate and licensing, among other topics.

The LCB spent 55 percent of its revenue on products and the federal taxes charged on them and 15 percent on store and warehouse operations and transportation costs, the report shows.

More than $42 million went to renting about 2.8 million square feet of retail space among its 606 stores.

“Most people don’t realize that we rent nearly 3 million square feet of property for our Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores,” Brion said. “The annual report gives us the chance to share the details of the PLCB’s impact with the general public. This agency is owned by the commonwealth, so the people of the commonwealth should know how it’s operated.”

Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2856 or [email protected].

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