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Imperial Beverage acquires U.P.-based beer distributor business FILE PHOTO

Imperial Beverage acquires U.P.-based beer distributor business

BY Tuesday, March 13, 2018 04:35pm

KALAMAZOO — Alcoholic beverage distributor Imperial Beverage Co. will enter the Upper Peninsula market after acquiring Bayside Beverage earlier this week.

The consolidation with Bayside Beverage, the beer division of the Highland Park-based Great Lakes Wine & Spirits LLC, will expand Imperial’s more than three-decades partnership with the MillerCoors family of brands to a new territory, said Joe Cekola, the president of Kalamazoo-based Imperial Beverage.

“This gives us our fourth distribution point in Michigan,” Cekola told MiBiz. “This gives us a firm … hold in the U.P. We are going to service the whole Upper Peninsula.”

Cekola said the company is in the process of hiring roughly 20 employees as a result of the acquisition, including four employees from Bayside.

Under the agreement, Imperial acquired an 18,000-square-foot warehouse facility space in Ishpeming, Mich.

With the deal, Imperial also acquired distribution rights for Constellation Brands’ import portfolio, as well as for the Boston Beer Co. family that includes Samuel Adams, Angry Orchard and Twisted Tea, Cekola said. The deal included the rights for Michigan craft beer brands like Griffin Claw Brewing Co. and Latitude 42 Brewing Co.

Currently, 65 percent of the company’s business is in beer distribution, according to Cekola. The company also distributes wine and acts as an authorized distributor agent for spirits in Michigan.

The deal, which closed on March 9, will result in “about a 9-percent increase in our total overall business” to Imperial’s existing 3 million case beer and wine business, Cekola said.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

With the acquisition, Imperial believes it has room to grow the MillerCoors portfolio in the U.P. territory, including for brands like Coors, Keystone, Blue Moon, Molson and Killians.

“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,” Larry Cekola, vice president of sales and marketing at Imperial, said in a statement announcing the deal.

For Great Lakes Wine & Spirits, the deal follows an August sale of beer distribution rights in Traverse City and Petoskey to Grand Rapids-based Alliance Beverage Distributing LLC.

Imperial now has distribution facilities in Kalamazoo, Livonia, Traverse City and the Upper Peninsula. The company saw acquiring Bayside from Great Lakes Wine & Spirits as an opportunity to grow from within its own portfolio of brands, Joe Cekola said.

“We are always open for more acquisitions if there’s other people that want to sell their business,” he added.

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