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Annual Report 2019: the SAQ announces net earnings of $1.146 billion

Montreal, June 12, 2019 – The SAQ ended its 2018-2019 fiscal year on March 30, 2019, with net earnings of $1.146 billion, up 2.9% from the preceding fiscal year. Sales totalled $3.294 billion, a 1.3% increase from fiscal 2017-2018.


The dividend was $32.2 million (2.9%) higher than last year’s.

Government revenue totalled $2.234 billion, a $42.6 million (1.9%) increase, and includes $1.803 billion remitted to the Quebec treasury and $430.7 million remitted to the federal government.

This is the seventh year running that the SAQ has paid a dividend in excess of $1 billion to the Quebec government.


Sales from the sales and distribution networks grew $42.2 million (1.3%) to $3.294 billion.

Volume sales declined a slight 1.6 million litres (‑0.8%) to reach 208.7 million litres.

The store and specialized centre network recorded sales of $2.947 billion, a $38 million (1.3%) increase, despite stores being closed 10 days due to strikes.

The corresponding volume sales fell 2 million litres (1.2%) to 167 million litres.

Sales in the wholesale grocer network rose $4.2 million (1.2%) to $346.9 million.

Volume sales for this network climbed 0.4 million litres (1%) to 41.7 million litres.

These sales increases occurred despite fiscal 2018-2019 being one week shorter than the preceding fiscal year (52 versus 53 weeks) and lacking an Easter holiday.


Expressed as a percentage of sales, net expenses showed improvement, ending the year at 15.9% as opposed to 16.6% in fiscal 2017-2018.

Net expenses totalled $524.9 million, a $14.3 million (2.7%) decrease from the preceding fiscal year.

This result shows that the SAQ is continuing its optimization efforts, all while maintaining the advisory service much appreciated by customers.


The SAQ is known for the variety, quality and accessibility of the wines and spirits it sells. In fiscal 2018-2019, the company offered its customers no fewer than 14,350 products from 81 countries, 20% of which were new to the SAQ. To this can be added some 20,000 products made available through the company’s private order service. It was also with great pride that SAQ offered more than 650 Quebec products, including 40 new spirits, to consumers in the fiscal year just ended.


Because it is committed to promoting eco-responsible products and because customers’ interest in such products continues to grow, the SAQ further expanded its range of organic wines and spirits this year. A total of 1,286 eco-responsible products were made available to customers, an 11.2% increase from the preceding fiscal year. Litre sales in this product category jumped 10.7% and now account for 3.3% of litre sales at the SAQ.


In fiscal 2018-2019, more than 225,000 SAQ customers expressed their opinion on the shopping experience provided to them in stores. Ninety-three percent of respondents said they were satisfied. This satisfaction rate is not unrelated to the excellent work of the company’s in-store employees or from the efforts devoted to continuous training. As sales prices are another key factor in customer satisfaction, the SAQ took various actions that, yet again, placed it at the top of the Canadian Association of Liquor Jurisdictions (CALJ) ranking. This ranking provides an annual overview of the competitiveness of wine and spirits prices in the various Canadian provinces.


For the ninth consecutive year, the SAQ made food assistance its corporate cause. Thanks to the involvement of its personnel and the generosity of it customers, the SAQ is proud to have remitted a record $1.23 million to Food Banks of Quebec (FBQ) in fiscal 2018-2019. In addition, through its donations and sponsorship program, the SAQ invested more than $5 million in 246 organizations and some 60 festivals and events across Quebec.


The collective agreement with the members of the SEMB, the store and office employees union, was officially signed on April 30. The new work agreement has advantages for the employees and the SAQ alike and will help to further improve customer service. It was on February 22, 2019, that the members of the SEMB voted 93% in favour of the agreement in principle that had been reached on December 1, 2018.


-Catherine Dagenais, the SAQ’s president and chief executive officer, was given top spot in the 2018 list of 200 wine personalities published by the Revue du vin de France (RVF), alongside the president of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron.

-The SAQ was ranked second in the WOW list of 200 retailers providing the best in-store experience. The company held fifth place last year. In the same Léger-conducted study, the SAQ came first among specialty retailers.

-The SAQ’s Inspire program continues to be noticed in the industry, including abroad. StateWays Control State magazine gave the Best Technology Innovation award to the SAQ. The SAQ’s expertise in this area was also highlighted in L’actualité magazine and on the and websites.

-The company also received two awards at the Gala Flèche d’Or, namely top spot in the Loyalty – Retailer category and the year’s customer experience award.


During the last fiscal year, the SAQ took on a major new challenge: setting up the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) within a very short time frame. As instructed by the Quebec government, the SAQ signed cannabis supply agreements, developed a retail sales network, including a transactional website, and hired and trained hundreds of employees. On October 17, 2018, the SQDC began fulfilling its mission of selling cannabis with a focus on health protection, the goal being to integrate consumers into the legal cannabis market and keep them in it without actually encouraging cannabis use.

Annual Report 2019