Michigan’s Imperial Beverage Acquires Bayside Beverage’s Beer Business

A pair of Michigan-based MillerCoors distributors are consolidating their beer businesses.

Kalamazoo-headquartered Imperial Beverage today announced that, after five months of negotiating, it had acquired Bayside Beverage, the beer division of Highland Park-based Great Lakes Wine & Spirits.

Financial terms of the deal, which closed on March 9, were not disclosed.

Speaking to Brewbound, Larry Cekola, Imperial’s VP of sales and marketing, said the deal would add about 220,000 case equivalents to Imperial’s existing 3 million case beer and wine business. He added that about 65 percent of Imperial’s business is in beer.

Imperial previously sold MillerCoors products in four counties — Kalamazoo, Branch, St. Joseph and Allegan — and the transaction will add distribution of those products to an additional 15 counties in the Upper Peninsula, Cekola told Brewbound.

“We are excited to be able to represent MillerCoors in the Upper Peninsula, and see it as a great opportunity to expand our partnership with them,” Cekola said via a press release.

In addition to growing its MillerCoors business and picking up the distribution rights to Constellation Brands’ import labels (Corona, Modelo, Pacifico), Cekola told Brewbound that Imperial was interested in bolstering its craft beer portfolio, which already features products from Dogfish Head, Short’s Brewing, Lagunitas, Ballast Point, Rogue, Avery, and Boulevard, among others.

With the acquisition, Imperial picked up the distribution rights to about 35 beer companies, including Boston Beer Company brands (Samuel Adams, Angry Orchard, Twisted Tea, Truly Spiked & Sparkling), Alaskan Brewing, Revolution, Uinta, and several Michigan craft brands such as Griffin Claw and Latitude 42, among others.

Also included in the deal was an 18,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Ishpeming. Imperial will now operate four distribution facilities in the state, including outposts in Kalamazoo, Livonia and Traverse City.

Cekola said Imperial’s expansion into the Upper Peninsula, along with the addition of 20 employees to service the territory, including nine former Bayside employees, will help increase sales of its existing brands.

“Adding the depth of sales and delivery that we just added, we’ll be able to grow those brands also,” he said.

A press release with additional information is included below.

Imperial Beverage acquires beer distribution rights in the Upper Peninsula

Michigan — As of March 10, 2018, Imperial Beverage acquired beer distribution rights from Highland Park based Great Lakes Wine & Spirits. The purchase of Bayside Beverage in Marquette, Great Lakes’ Upper Peninsula beer division, includes all beer brands in U.P. counties, which will be added to Imperial’s current portfolio of beer, wine and spirits.

In the Upper Peninsula, Great Lakes distributes products in the MillerCoors family of brands, as does Imperial in the Kalamazoo area.

“We are excited to be able to represent MillerCoors in the Upper Peninsula, and see it as a great opportunity to expand our partnership with them,” says Larry Cekola, VP of Sales and Marketing at Imperial.

Imperial has been working with MillerCoors since 1985, and prior to this addition of the U.P. territory has distributed Coors, Keystone, Blue Moon, Molson and Killians in Kalamazoo, Branch, St. Joseph, and part of Allegan Counties.

In addition to the MillerCoors portfolio, Great Lakes serves as a wholesaler for Crown Imports (Corona, Modelo) and Boston Beer (Sam Adams, Angry Orchard) as well as a range of craft beer brands in the Upper Peninsula, including Michigan brands Griffin Claw, Latitude 42 Brewing Co., Cheboygan and Petoskey Brewing Co., as well as national brands like Alaskan Brewing Co. and Uinta.

Under the agreement, Imperial has acquired a warehouse facility in Ishpeming and will be expanding their presence with the addition of new brands. Imperial has recently filled 15 new positions to staff the Marquette County facility including sales, warehouse, drivers and management.

March 12 marks the first day of operations for Imperial Beverage in their new Ishpeming facility. The 18,000-square-foot warehouse will be the fourth base of operations for the Kalamazoo-based Imperial Beverage, whose other facilities include a warehouse in Livonia and cross-docking facility in Traverse City.

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