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[July 25, 2014]
Major Brands buying distributor Missouri Beverage [St. Louis Post-Dispatch :: ]
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 25--Beer, wine and liquor distributor Major Brands, as it rebuilds its business following the departure of some of its largest suppliers, is acquiring Missouri Beverage Co.
Financial terms of the deal, which is expected to close this fall pending regulatory approvals, were not disclosed.
Purchasing St. Louis-based Missouri Beverage, known as MoBev, will allow Major Brands, the largest Missouri-owned distributor of wine, spirits and beer, to grow its roster of brands, said Sue McCollum, CEO of St. Louis-based Major Brands.
"They have some great craft beers, and it's a good opportunity for us to bring them in and allow us to focus on being the best statewide craft beer distributor," McCollum said. "They also have a number of great wines and spirits." MoBev distributes craft beer from Founders Brewing Co., Civil Life Brewing Co. and New Holland Brewing, among others. Its wine and spirits suppliers include DeLoach Vineyards, Risata, and Bodega Norton.
The MoBev acquisition is part of Major Brands' efforts to rebuild after London-based Diageo, one of the world's largest alcohol suppliers, terminated its franchise relationship last year, McCollum said. Diageo North America, whose brands include Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, Smirnoff and Captain Morgan, transferred its business to another distributor, St. Charles-based Glazer's Midwest, a unit of Dallas-based Glazer's.
Major Brands has fought terminations of its agreements with multiple suppliers, including Diageo and Bacardi, in court. A lawsuit Major Brands filed against Diageo in St. Louis Circuit Court is set to go to trial in September.
In 2013, three alcohol suppliers -- Diageo, Bacardi and St. Louis-based Luxco -- that made up 50 percent of Major Brands' spirits business switched from Major Brands to Glazer's.
"As a result of the 2013 terminations, we had to go through a restructuring and reduce staff," McCollum said. Major Brands' employment fell from 700 to 525, she said.
Since then, Major Brands has worked to add new supplier relationships. Earlier this year, Major Brands acquired St. Louis-based wine distributor Garco Wine Co. for an undisclosed amount.
In addition to its St. Louis headquarters, 80-year-old Major Brands has offices in Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Kansas City and Springfield, and more than 9,000 customers in Missouri.
Founded in 2000 by Bill Reichhardt, Missouri Beverage has about 2,000 customers and 70 employees.
"The outstanding performance MoBev has delivered to its suppliers and customers will only be furthered at Major Brands," Reichhardt, MoBev president, said in a statement.
In April 2013, Chicago-based Wirtz Corp., the owner of the Chicago Blackhawks, acquired a minority stake in MoBev. As part of the acquisition of MoBev by Major Brands, members of the Wirtz family are making an unspecified investment in Major Brands.
"Under the direction of a strong leadership team, (MoBev) has successfully aligned with new supplier partners and transformed itself into an energetic and progressive wholesale distributor of wine, spirits and beer," Wirtz president Rocky Wirtz said in a statement. "We are excited to maintain and ultimately grow our presence in the marketplace." Lisa Brown is a business reporter at the Post-Dispatch. Follow her on Twitter @LisaBrownSTL and the Business section @postdispatchbiz.
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