Major Brands Acquires MoBev, Receives Investment from Wirtz

FILED JULY 25, 2014

Missouri wholesaler Major Brands has entered an agreement to acquire Missouri Beverage Company (MoBev) and in the process will receive an investment from the Wirtz family. MoBev was founded in 2000 by Bill Reichhardt, who you may recall, sold a minority stake in the company to Wirtz Beverage and McLane's Company last year.

Bill told WSD at the time that the business did $17 million in 2012 with wine representing 50% of the inventory and craft beer and "esoteric" spirits splitting the other half [see WSD 04-29-2013]. MoBev's portfolio primarily consists of small to mid-sized suppliers, such as Edrington brands, Wilson Daniels, and Rogue Ales and Spirits.

Recall, MoBev's sale to Wirtz and McLane last year was a "window of opportunity" for Bill to eventually retire and get out of the business, but because Missouri law prevents any outside parties from holding majority ownership in a Missouri wholesaler, he was forced to stay on as the majority shareholder.

As such, the sale to Major Brands allows Bill to retire and allows Major Brands to rebuild its business after Diageo terminated its relationship with the wholesaler last year. "It makes sense to have Missouri Beverage join the Major Brands family," Bill said in a statement. "The outstanding performance MoBev has delivered to its suppliers and customers will only be furthered at Major Brands. This is a success story for both companies, our suppliers and retailers throughout the state."

As part of the terms of the acquisition, Wirtz's stake in MoBev will become a Wirtz family investment in Major Brands. In a memo to employees, Wirtz Beverage president Rocky Wirtz writes: "We are excited to maintain and ultimately grow our presence in the marketplace. It is important to note that our investment is forward looking and is considered separate from the ongoing litigation between Major Brands and some of its former suppliers."

Major Brands' management and team will remain in place after the acquisition. Its goal is to retain as many MoBev employees as possible.

"When Diageo terminated us, we were expected to collapse," says Major Brands chief Sue McCollum. "The Garco acquisition last December demonstrated that we still have fight left in us.Our acquisition of MoBev is further evidence that Major Brands is committed to remain in business in Missouri and keep the Major Brands family together."

Pending customary due diligence, regulatory approvals and concluding negotiations, the transaction is expected to close this fall.

Until Monday,

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