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What are the rules for selling food and non-liquor items in detached bottle shops and liquor barns?

As seen in the July edition of the QHA Review.

The Liquor Act states that a licensee must not conduct any business on a licensed premises other than the hotel business authorised by the liquor licence. The Act also prohibits the grant of a licence for a premises to be used primarily as a supermarket. So where do we draw the line on the sale of food and other non-liquor items (including merchandise) in detached bottle shops and/or liquor barns?

The OLGR has set out the following guidelines (Guideline 41) to provide some direction as to how a licensee can operate the non-liquor aspects of their off-premises retail activity. A full copy of the Guideline is available on the OLGR’s website.

In short, Guideline 41 states that, for the purposes of the Liquor Act, licensees are permitted to sell non-liquor items if:

  • the area for the sale of goods is restricted. For detached bottle shops this means no more than 5% of the total floor space and for liquor barns no more than 2% of the total floor space can be used to display and sell non-liquor items;
  • the area for the sale of goods is separate and distinct. Items need to be in their own area and away from liquor products. Examples of appropriate areas include front counter stalls and free-standing displays; and
  • the goods sold complement the off-premises consumption of liquor. Examples of acceptable goods for sale include cheese, crackers, potato chips and nuts. Examples of unacceptable goods include fire-starters, heat beads, plastic cutlery, ice creams, frozen goods and deli meats.

A licensee does not require approval from the OLGR to sell merchandise in accordance with the Guideline.

If a licensee intends to sell goods (or provide a service) which is not compliant with the OLGR Guidelines, an application needs to be made to the Chief Executive requesting to conduct another business on the premises. 

Guideline 41 states that approval will only be given in circumstances where it can be demonstrated that the additional business will complement the existing licenced activity, and is not a service otherwise provided in the local area. The Chief Executive may also consider other special circumstances. 

The OLGR has published this Guideline to give certainty to licensees who are wishing to sell food and other merchandise from licensed premises. It is clear that the OLGR wants licensed premises to predominantly be facilities that sell liquor to be consumed on or off premises. While non-liquor items may be attractive to many customers (and could potentially give an operator an edge over competitors), licensees need to ensure that the range of items offered does not exceed the authority of their liquor licence. 

If you are unsure whether your venue complies with the Guideline, contact our Pubs & Hotels expert Managing Partner, Curt Schatz, on 07 3224 0230.

Article written by Curt Schatz (Managing Partner) and Frances Kelly (Solicitor).

"The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication."