Not too many people would disagree that a marriage is an exciting amalgamation of two people, but it also requires patience and understanding as two separate entities become a family. Although the emotions are different, mergers and acquisitions in the business world require the same patience and understanding.
As we await regulatory approvals regarding the merger of Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) and SABMiller, no time seems more pertinent than now to be mindful of the affect that mergers and acquisitions are having on the beverage industry.
At the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) Convention this past fall, NBWA President and Chief Executive Officer Craig Purser stated: “As Congress, the U.S. Department of Justice and the states examine the potential impact of this global acquisition, NBWA will provide input to help ensure that the U.S. marketplace isn’t negatively impacted by this increase in global market power and that America’s vibrant beer market and successful distribution system can continue to thrive.”
It looks as though wholesalers in both the beer and wine and spirits arenas are finding new ways to thrive as they embark on their own mergers and acquisitions. With 2016 just beginning, the beverage distribution community has seen several monumental changes.
Among the most notable within the wholesaler community are Southern Wine & Spirits of America and Glazer’s Inc., Charmer Sunbelt and Wirtz Beverage Group, and Hensley Beverage Co. and Golden Eagle Distributors.
As detailed in our Industry Issues section (Page 8), Southern Wine & Spirits and Glazer’s now will be named Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits LLC and have operations in 41 states plus the District of Columbia, the Caribbean and Canada.
Breakthru Beverage Group is the new name for the Charmer Belt-Wirtz Beverage venture, which now operates in 19 markets across the United States.
Impacting the Arizona market, Hensley acquired Golden Eagle as well as its subsidiary, Spike Beverage Co., which handles non-alcohol beverage distribution. The acquisition will expand Hensley’s sales and service of AB InBev products to nearly all of Arizona through a retail customer base of 8,000 accounts.
Even distributors that operate on a smaller scale are teaming up. Madidus LLC and True Craft Holdings, both Washington, D.C.-based distributors that specialize in craft beverages within the alcohol sector, combined all of their operations and portfolios. Madidus LLC will serve as the parent company with True Craft Holdings operating as a DBA under the newly formed company. True Craft Holdings will focus on craft beer products while Madidus will continue to offer wine and spirits.
With so much merger and acquisition activity, it might seem overwhelming but also exciting for employees and wholesalers’ customers. But as the beverage manufacturing community evolves, the distributor community also must keep pace with these changes. With so many major players combining their operations, perhaps we will see this activity slow down, or maybe this is just the beginning.
We can only wait and see.