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ABC Board Sees Profit Rise; Shares The Wealth With Local Governments

NEW HANOVER CTY - New Hanover County’s Alcohol Beverage Control Board witnessed an increase in sales of more than 6% in the last fiscal year and will distribute more of its profits to local governments than in the year before. Year-end figures also show large increases in retail sales as well as in liquor sold to bars and restaurants.
At today’s ABC board meeting, members were told year-end total sales grew to more than $33.4 million or more than 6% from the previous year.  Net income for 2012 after expenses and legislative distributions, was $2.55 million, or 13% higher than last year.  Operating expenses dropped more than 3%.
The ABC Board approved additional profit distributions to New Hanover County, city of Wilmington and three beach communities at today’s meeting. Because of what the board called an exceptional year, this year’s disbursement will total $1.9 million.
The 2011 disbursement totaled $1.5 million. The county and municipalities will share the additional $400,000. The ABC Board is the only governmental entity that shares its profits with local governmental units. Taxes paid to the state exceeded $8 million.
About 70% of all ABC sales are accounted for by its eight retail locations, with the remaining sales coming from bars and restaurants. 
Retail sales have grown modestly, reflecting a weak economy.  In 2011, lower priced product had accounted for much of the sales
growth, but CEO Dan Sykes says consumers have recently begun trading up to premium brands.  He also reports New Hanover County’s growing tourism trade and favorable weather helped surpass overall state trends this year.
ABC officials also credit better customer service for the increase in profits.
Historically, all bars and restaurants in New Hanover County were serviced from the 17th Street location. 
However recent changes approved by the ABC board allow designated commercial customers to now purchase liquor from the Carolina Beach and Porter’s Neck ABC stores.
Sykes credited the ABC’s 41 full time and additional part time employees with improving sales and helping the system run efficiently. 
He also credits the combined city/county Downtown Task Force with sharply curtailing late evening disruptions and an overall increase in security for downtown patrons.  Recognizing the success of the task force, the ABC Board will continue a $180 thousand contribution for a second year. The task force made 54 alcohol related arrests in the past month.
Major cost efficiency improvements were accomplished in product handling, order processing, budgeting and internal controls. 
Upgrading computer hardware and software has significantly improved purchasing, inventory and accounting controls.
The New Hanover County ABC Board is a local independent political subdivision of the State of North Carolina. The goals of the board and its employees are to achieve a reasonable balance in five general areas: (1) providing a high level of customer service, (2) contributing to the Board's beneficiaries, (3) maintaining a knowledgeable and dedicated workforce, (4)
supporting efforts to ensure the legal sell and control of alcoholic beverages (5) maintaining sufficient working capital to sustain the future.