Anheuser-Busch Announces Major Wholesale Moves in Colorado

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Anheuser-Busch InBev just announced a pair of wholesaler transactions in Colorado that will give the world’s largest beer company direct access to a majority of the state’s population and a distribution foothold across nearly half of the state’s geography.

In a statement, Bob Tallett, A-B InBev’s vice president of business and wholesaler development, said the company has agreed to purchase American Eagle Distributing in Loveland, Colo. for an undisclosed sum.

In a separate but simultaneous move, A-B will swap ownership of its wholly-owned Kentucky distributorships for three Colorado outfits currently owned by Standard Sales Company, an A-B wholesaler based in Odessa, Texas. Tallett said A-B will “transfer” ownership of its Owensboro, KY and and Louisville operations to Standard Sales Company, which currently owns nine beer distributorships in three states. In exchange, A-B will takeover Standard’s operations in Littleton, Colo., Pueblo, Colo. and Colorado Springs.

Specific terms of that deal were not disclosed and both transactions are expected to close in September and October, respectively, Tallett said in the statement.

The decision to turn over control of its distributorships in Kentucky comes more than four months after lawmakers passed a bill clarifying that breweries could not own wholesale operations in the state, forcing A-B to sell. The news also comes less than two weeks after the company agreed to purchase R. Ippolito Distributing, a 700,000 case A-B wholesaler based in Staten Island, New York.

So what’s it all mean for craft?

According to its website, American Eagle sold a number of craft products, including those from Boston Beer, Breckenridge Brewery, Odell Brewing, Great Divide and Firestone Walker, among others. Standard Sales Company also sells a number on independent craft brands through its branches in Littleton, Pueblo and Colorado Springs. Since A-B typically only sells its own brands — and those from Craft Brew Alliance as part of a long-term distribution agreement — through its wholly-owned outfits, the distribution rights to a number of prominent craft breweries could soon be up for grabs.

A-B already owns its Denver-based distributor, which means A-B will soon wholly-own distributors in five contiguous territories.

Tallett’s full statement, which was issued on behalf of the company, is included below.

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Anheuser-Busch has entered into two separate wholesaler transactions in the state of Colorado, purchasing American Eagle Distributing in Loveland and transferring ownership of our Kentucky operations to Standard Sales Company in exchange for its operations in Littleton, Pueblo and Colorado Springs.

Many factors made this transaction align with our strategy, after learning of American Eagle’s interest in selling and Standard Sales’ interest in exchanging operations.

For more than 100 years, Anheuser-Busch has been a licensed beer distributor in Colorado and is pleased to expand our base in Denver.

After a significant evaluation of options, we agreed to exchange territory with Standard Sales as the best path forward for our employees and operations in Kentucky, where we can no longer own a distributorship. We are pleased that Standard Sales expressed interest in a mutually-beneficial agreement and we look forward to having our employees in Kentucky meeting with them soon.

Following the Standard Sales transaction, we anticipate working with our wholesaler partners to potentially sell portions of the territory in the near future. This is consistent with our strategy to evaluate our footprint and facilitate voluntary consolidation to better position us and our wholesaler partners in competitive markets.

We are eager to meet with American Eagle and Standard Sales employees in Colorado. We expect the American Eagle transaction to close in September and Standard Sales in October. The terms will not be disclosed.

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