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Michigan suffers state-wide spirits distribution delays

Stock shortages have hit the US state of Michigan following Republic National Distributing Company’s (RNDC) move to a new facility, which the firm said “turned out to be like building a new plane while flying it”.

A potential downturn in retail sales resulting from the delays would hit Michigan’s bottom line

RNDC is one of three authorised distribution agents for the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC), the state-run agency that oversees the sale of spirits in Michigan.

MLCC said it had received complaints from retailers regarding “delivery issues, stock shortages, and lack of customer service that are negatively impacting their businesses”.

“We are holding RNDC accountable on how they plan to fix this situation for our licensees,” said MLCC chair Pat Gagliardi. “It’s our priority to ensure our licensees have their shelves stocked for the public, especially in advance of the holiday season.”

MLCC also claimed that any downturn in retail spirit sales due to unstocked shelves would impact the State’s bottom line. Last year, distilled spirit sales in Michigan reached almost US$1.5 billion

According to RNDC, it is experiencing “chronic software issues” at its new US$80 million warehousing facility Livonia, Michigan. The company has sent a message apologising to its 13,000 customers.

“We apologise to our many customers and to the State of Michigan for not hitting our high goals for solid delivery service to the many retailers we service,” said Steve Rochow, Michigan State executive vice-president for RNDC.

“We know the new facility will improve our service when it is fully operational. But moving from two warehouses to one while serving our many customers turned out to be like building a new plane while flying it – and we have not performed adequately.”

Rochow added that RNDC is “attacking” the problems at its new facility, and is moving product back to one of its previous facilities to “address immediate needs”. He said it may take “several weeks” for RNDC’s regular service to resume.

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