London-based Diageo has signed an agreement with Chicago-based distributor Wirtz Beverage Group, a division of Wirtz Corp., making it the exclusive national broker for Diageo’s beer, wine, spirits and ready-to-drink (RTD) brands in Canada.

As a result of the new arrangement, Diageo’s brands in Canada will be represented by a dedicated sales force within the new brokerage entity, Wirtz Beverage Canada. This means that many of the current Diageo salespeople are expected to transition into roles within Wirtz Beverage Canada, it says.

Julian Burzynski, executive vice president of Wirtz Beverage, will lead Wirtz Beverage Canada. Jakob Ripshtein has been appointed president of Diageo Canada, replacing Maggie Lapcewich. Under Ripshtein’s leadership, Diageo Canada will continue to directly manage all other aspects of its business in addition to working with the dedicated sales force within the broker.

“This arrangement with Wirtz Beverage provides us with the best of both worlds — a broker that understands our business and a dedicated Canadian sales force that knows our brands and the Canada market,” said Larry Schwartz, president of Diageo North America, in a statement. “I strongly believe that this is the right move for Diageo Canada. As a business, we must continually adapt to the market, which is why improving our route to [the] consumer has been a priority for our company. We have seen the benefits of this model in other parts of the world and can see how it will make Canada a more agile and efficient business allowing us to further invest in Diageo and our brands.”

Wirtz Beverage Group President Rocky Wirtz added: “Diageo and Wirtz Beverage have a long history of proven results, and we are eager to build on that success. We will leverage our commercial sales expertise with training and development programs, market analytics, and technology tools to support the Diageo brands across Canada, and we look forward to working closely with the country’s liquor boards.”

The new brokerage agreement as well as Ripshtein’s new role within Diageo Canada will commence July 1.