Published in Food/Agribusiness
Alliance Beverage acquires beer distribution rights in TC, Petoskey Courtesy Photo

Alliance Beverage acquires beer distribution rights in TC, Petoskey

BY Sunday, August 20, 2017 10:45am

GRAND RAPIDS  Alliance Beverage Distributing LLC plans to expand into the northern Lower Peninsula by acquiring another wholesaler’s beer distribution rights, MiBiz has learned.

Under the agreement, Highland Park-based Great Lakes Wine & Spirits will sell its beer distribution rights in Traverse City and Petoskey to the Grand Rapids-based Alliance Beverage.

The details of the deal are still being worked out, but the parties hope to finalize a transaction by October, said Nick Goebel, director of government affairs and public relations for Great Lakes Wine & Spirits.

In addition to the beer distribution rights, Alliance may also acquire two warehouses in Traverse City and Petoskey, Goebel said. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

For Alliance Beverage, the acquisition comes as part of the distributor’s larger strategy to expand across the western half of Michigan, President Shawn Gary told MiBiz.

“The suppliers that we’ll be representing have been great partners for us and we have the continuous territory to the south,” Gary said. “It’s really an extension of our vision to cover West Michigan.”

Currently, Alliance Beverage distributes as far north as Manistee County.

Great Lakes broke into the Traverse City and Petoskey beer distributing business as a result of its acquisition of Wicksall Distributors Inc. in 2015 and Bayside Beverage Corp. in 2012, Goebel said.

In Northern Michigan, Great Lakes distributes products in the MillerCoors family of brands, as does Alliance Beverage in its current footprint. Great Lakes also serves as a wholesaler for a range of craft beer brands, including Ludington-based Starving Artist Brewing Co., Grand Rapids-based Schmohz Brewing Co. and Latitude 42 Brewing Co. of Portage, as well as national producers including Green Flash Brewing Co., Alaskan Brewing Co. and Anchor Brewing.

Great Lakes Wine & Spirits chose to divest the business as part of its strategy to increase its focus on distributing wine and spirits rather than beer. The company will continue to distribute wine and spirits in Traverse City and Petoskey, according to Goebel.

“We were founded on wine and spirits,” he said. “We’re going back to what we originally focused on.”

The company also opted to sell now so it could better focus on integrating its recent acquisition in Bay City of distribution rights from Fabiano Brothers Distributing Inc.

Great Lakes Wine & Spirits will lay off approximately 101 workers as a result of the divestiture in Northern Michigan, according to documents filed with the state under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.

The company will shutter its Petoskey Depot, located at 5692 S. US-31, and plans to reduce staff at its Traverse City and Gaylord locations beginning Oct. 9.

Goebel was uncertain why Great Lakes Wine & Spirits was laying off workers in Gaylord.

Gary of Alliance Beverage said his company expects to interview many of the laid off workers, calling the layoffs “typical” under these types of sales.

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