Lakeshore Beverage Acquires Central Beverage; Adding PBR, Bell’s, Schlafly and More

In Beer News by Ryan

Lakeshore Beverage has acquired Central Beverage and it’s portfolio that includes PBR, Bell’s, Schlafly and Rogue.

lakeshorecentralThe largest Bud distributor in Illinois is getting even bigger. Late Friday news broke that Lakeshore Beverage acquired Broadview-based Central Beverage and its portfolio of macro and craft beer. In a press release, Lakeshore Beverage CEO JR Hand called the move another step towards becoming the top wholesaler in the state.

“Since we have entered the Chicago market, we have focused on continued share growth for our current suppliers and our total business,” said Hand. “This transaction is another huge leap for our employees, suppliers and shareholders to solidify our company as the number one distributor in Chicago and the entire state of Illinois.”

Lakeshore boasts annual sales of over 23 million case equivalents. Central Beverage sells roughly 4 million case equivalents a year.

PBR, Old Style, Bell’s, Schlafly, Rogue, Sprecher, Tighthead, Atwater, Church Street and Point are among the brands Lakeshore stands to get in the deal.

All of the above will have a chance to review the sale and determine whether they want to make the move to Lakeshore, according to Illinois’ Beer Industry Fair Dealing Act.

(We initially reported that brands who make up less than 10% of a distributor’s house volume by sales can leave without cause but that a brand making up more than 10% of house volume by sales would be locked in to the new distributor. That information is incorrect.)

I reached out to Dan Kopman, co-chair of Schlafly’s board, over the weekend to gauge his thoughts on the deal. Kopman, in an email, said he had no immediate reaction however he is familiar with Lakeshore. Schlafly announced it was expanding distribution to Chicago in October, signing on with Central Beverage and a handful of others.

In signing off on the deal, Central Beverage President Donna Spagnola called the move a logical next step for the company.

“It’s a natural progression for our brands to be represented by Lakeshore Beverage in the Chicagoland area as their market share and importance in Illinois continue to grow, ” said Spagnola.

Spagnola and the two other owners of Central Beverage will stay on board, providing brand management for the non-alcoholic brands that were also part of the deal.

Lakeshore’s acquisition of Central is expected to close by April 30th.

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Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.