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Report on Business LCBO shelves thin out as new inventory-management system delays shipments

As the summer heats up, some Ontario customers looking to stock up on alcoholic refreshments for the backyard have been confronted with thinning options and even a few bare shelves. The culprit is a new inventory-management system at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, which has thrown off the delivery schedule at some stores.

The LCBO declined to answer questions about how many stores are affected and where, or whether the problem is also hitting grocery stores that depend on the LCBO for distribution.

In an e-mailed statement, the Crown corporation said that a transition to a new system with “updated technology for handling product intake and outbound orders” has led to delays in delivery to stores. The transition began in mid-June at its Durham Retail Service Centre, which is “one of several” LCBO warehouses across the province.

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“This transition is central to the modernization of our business and to our efforts to better serve all of our customers," the statement said. “While some interruption in service was expected, deliveries remain moving at a slower than usual pace.”

In recent days, customers at some LCBO stores found partly empty shelves and signs apologizing for the dwindling stock.

The LCBO statement said the corporation is working to “maintain daily replenishment orders” for both its stores and wholesale customers, and to “get back to our regular operations as soon as possible,” but did not respond to questions about when the issue is expected to be resolved.

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