Wirtz Beverage merges with Sunbelt to form distribution heavyweight

20th October, 2015 by Amy Hopkins

Wirtz Beverage Group has merged its entire business with the Charmer Sunbelt Group to create one of the biggest alcohol distribution companies in North America.


Wirtz Beverage has created Breakthru Beverage Group with Charmer Sunbelt Group after the two companies merged their businesses

Renamed Breakthru Beverage Group, the new company will be initially operate in 16 markets, employ more than 7,000 people and represent a portfolio of wine, beer and spirits with US$6bn in annual sales.

It will be headquartered in New York, the HQ base of Charmer Sunbelt, with a corporate office based in Chicago, the base of Wirtz Beverage.

The merger of both family-run distributors will be led by W. Rockwell Wirtz, of Wirtz Beverage Group, and Charles Merinoff, of Charmer Sunbelt Group, who will act as co-chairmen of the board.

Daniel Wirtz, current president of Wirtz Beverage Group, will take on the role of vice-chairman of Breakthru Beverage Group, while Greg Baird, current president of Charmer Sunbelt Group, will serve as the president and CEO of the company.

Baird will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company and will directly manage its leadership team. Arthur Wirtz, current Wirtz Beverage chief operating officer, will serve as executive vice president of operations and a member of the board.

An operating committee led by Charles Merinoff and Daniel Wirtz will oversee the integration of the two businesses and “play a key role” in leading supplier relations.

“The significance of these two great companies coming together is a testament to our shared values, approach and commitment to the future,” said Rockwell Wirtz.

“Charlie and his team have built an incredible company and we have a lot of similarities in our culture and growth strategy. As family-run businesses, maintaining the integrity of our relationships with our employees and partners is really important.”

Expanded footprint

The two companies said they already share many of the same supplier partners and distribute similar brands “across a geographically diverse footprint”.

The Charmer Sunbelt Group operates local distributor and brokerage houses in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, and has interests in the Alabama and Mississippi markets.

Meanwhile, Wirtz Beverage operates in Illinois, Wisconsin, Nevada, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, and throughout Canada.

“It is clear over our many months of dialogue that both companies have the same long-term vision to really create something that pushes the boundaries of the traditional distributor,” said Danny Wirtz.

“By thinking and acting differently and building upon the very best of our organizations, we can come together and create a company that truly changes how we all do business.”

The merger, which is subject to customary conditions including shareholder and regulatory approvals, is expected to be finalised in January 2016. The specific terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Wirtz Beverage Group launched a distribution arm in Canada last year, handling Diageo’s beer, wine and spirits portfolio.

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