While preparing to build out its first large-scale production facility on American soil, the Scottish craft beer stalwart BrewDog is also working out plans to retake control of its U.S. distribution.
Anchor Brewing, which has imported the BrewDog brand since 2010, has agreed to sell back the company’s distribution rights for an undisclosed sum, Anchor CEO and co-owner Keith Greggor told Brewbound.
The announcement comes just days after BrewDog confirmed plans to build a 100,000 sq. ft. brewing facility in Ohio.
“Throughout it has always been envisaged that the optimal arrangement was for BrewDog to be brewed in the U.S.,” Greggor said in a statement. “Also, that in managing its own brewery, it would be best to manage distribution, too.”
For the last five years, the iconic San Francisco brewery has imported BrewDog beers and managed its stateside distribution contracts. The BrewDog brand, which was already being sold in various U.S. markets prior to its 2010 import arrangement with Anchor, was often distributed by the same wholesalers that sold Anchor products.
In some areas of the country, however, the two companies did not share a common wholesaler. And when BrewDog regains control of its U.S. network in 2016, distribution arrangements could change, the company said.
Reached by email, BrewDog spokeswoman Sarah Warman said the company’s current U.S. wholesale agreements “are still to be worked out,” but that it “will likely maintain existing relationships” where possible.
“BrewDog will start working directly with the wholesalers; those wholesalers, depending on the state, will have some sort of claim on the franchise,” added Greggor. “Each case will be handled on a case-by-case basis. We’re expecting the network to stay together.”
The relationship between Anchor and BrewDog doesn’t begin and end with a distribution arrangement, however.
Greggor — a long time drinks executive best known for helping to develop the Skyy Vodka brand — founded the Griffin Group, a boutique merchant and investment bank, shortly after selling his interest in the spirits company to Gruppo Campari in 2007. Greggor then enlisted the help of former Skyy colleague Tony Foglio and the pair, using proceeds from the sale of Skyy, embarked on a plan to invest in smaller alcoholic beverage companies.
The pair’s first purchase, in 2008, was Preiss Imports, a beer and spirits operation that sold BrewDog products in select U.S. markets.
That’s when Greggor’s relationship with BrewDog began, and in 2009 the Griffin Group purchased a minority stake in BrewDog. At the same time, the firm established BrewDog USA, the U.K. brewer’s stateside division, and Greggor obtained a seat on BrewDog’s board.
In 2010, Griffin acquired Anchor Brewing, establishing Anchor Brewers & Distillers, LLC. in the process. In doing so, the firm assumed complete control of Anchor’s beer and spirits divisions while simultaneously rolling up its affiliated companies — BrewDog USA and Preiss Imports — under the newly formed LLC.
Following that transaction, Anchor began expanding BrewDog’s distribution nationwide.
In the meantime, Anchor will continue to manage distribution of BrewDog products until the company’s Ohio facility comes online in 2016, the two companies said.
“Anchor has helped us appreciate the complexity of the U.S. beer market. We are now set to transition from being an import to a domestically produced beer,” added James Watt, BrewDog co-founder, in the release. “In inheriting a national distribution footprint from Anchor, we will be in a unique position to serve those fans easily and quickly with our new Ohio brewing facility.”