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This Bud’s for Belgium

Richmond BizSense July 16, 2008 0

By now you’ve likely heard about Belgian brewer InBev’s successful takeover of Anheuser-Busch.

How this deal will affect local businesses is still unknown, but two sectors that will likely experience the effects come directly to mind: local distributors who sell Anheuser-Busch products, and local properties owned by the brewing giant including Busch Gardens and Kings Mill Resort in Williamsburg.

There are two major local distributors for beer in Central Virginia: Loveland Distribution and Brown Distributing Company.

According to an article published by the Times-Dispatch in May, Loveland distributes about 63% of all beer distributed in the Richmond area, delivering more than 200 brands of beer to 1,600 local bars, restaurants and stores.

Loveland’s primary focus used to be Miller products, but they have rapidly expanded over the past 25 years to include brands such as Coors, Corona, Pabst, Rolling Rock, Bass, Harp and Sierra Nevada, among others.

Because Loveland does not stock Anheuser-Busch products, the merger should have little to no direct effect on the Richmond-based distributor.

Brown Distributing Co., on the other hand, deals almost exclusively with Anheuser-Busch when it comes to selling beer. Brown serves about 2,200 retailers in the Richmond area, delivering close to 375 products.

Based in Richmond and in West Palm Beach, Florida, the company distributes Budweiser and a host of other labels. The new deal might change the labels that Brown caries, or possibly the relationship it has with beer companies.

In March, the company moved into a new distribution center on Villa Park Drive in Henrico County. This new warehouse can stock about 650,000 cases of beer, 125,000 more than its previous center at Byrdhill Road in Richmond.

Neither Loveland nor Brown returned phone calls in time for this article.

According to various news reports, Busch Gardens in Williamsburg and Water Country will likely be sold. The Belgian brewer has plans to sell unnamed “noncore assets” in order to raise money to help finance the $52 billion purchase.

InBev also has a reputation for cutting costs, which likely will mean a cut in advertising. Budweiser often runs a full-page color ad in Style Weekly.

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