Vermont Business Magazine With an option to buy Vermont's iconic Woodchuck Hard Cider, Pabst Brewing Company has announced an exclusive long-term partnership agreement with Vermont Hard Cider Company, a leading American manufacturer, marketer and importer of cider, and a subsidiary of C&C Group plc, for the sale and distribution of Vermont’s cider brands within the United States. The agreement between Vermont and PBC will take effect March 1, 2016. Pabst, based in Los Angeles, is the world’s largest American-owned brewer with sales of over 5.5 million barrels in the United States.
Under the terms of the Partnership, PBC will have an exclusive license to distribute, market and sell all of Vermont’s cider brands in the US, including premium craft cider brands Woodchuck, Gumption, Wyder’s and Hornsby’s, in addition to Vermont's portfolio of authentic imported cider brands from Ireland and England, including Magners and Blackthorn.
PBC's field sales and national accounts organizations will be responsible for sales of the Vermont portfolio to distributors and retailers in the United States. Vermont's sales and marketing organization will continue to operate as an independent business unit focused on marketing activation and driving the performance of the Vermont brands. PBC has proven expertise in successfully launching and scaling brands in the US market, including building its flagship Pabst Blue Ribbon into a leading beer brand, and more recently, leading the highly successful national rollout of Small Town Brewery's Not Your Father’s Root Beer.
“We are honored to add Vermont's great ciders to our portfolio” said Eugene Kashper, Chairman and CEO of Pabst Brewing Company. "This partnership is another key milestone as we look to collaborate with independent brand owners to build a best-in-class portfolio of craft and import brands. We are thrilled to be working with the team in Vermont and I am confident that together we will be able to return these rich heritage brands to growth."
Vermont will retain full ownership of its US Cider Brands and related assets, including the cidery in Middlebury, Vermont – America’s largest facility dedicated to cider production; and the distribution rights for the U.S. Cider Brands in all markets outside the U.S.
The Partnership substantially strengthens Vermont’s route to market in the U.S. by leveraging PBC's extensive distribution network and sales platform. The overlap in Vermont's and PBC's distribution networks, combined with PBC's proven marketing activation capabilities, will allow for a smooth integration effort.
Vermont Vice President of Sales, Terry Hopper stated, “This partnership will bring together iconic American brands and will insure Vermont’s great products get the support they deserve. PBC's team has the experience and passion to grow our brands and to help expand the cider category as a whole. You will see the same level of customer service, category expertise, and even more day to day activity in the marketplace. It is important to note that the making of our domestic ciders will remain in Vermont and that our team of cider makers will continue their commitment to quality and innovation.”
C&C paid a whopping $305 million for Vermont Hard Cider in October 2012. The company opened its new $34 million cidery in Middlebury in July 2015, but laid off eight staff in October because of what it described as competition from large domestic beverage competitors seeking to gain share in the growing cider market. Vermont Hard Cider is the second largest producer of cider in the US. Vermont Hard Cider has about 160 employees.
Option to Acquire U.S. Cider Brands and Related Assets
Under the terms of the Partnership, PBC has an option to acquire Vermont's U.S. Cider Brands and related assets, subject to customary regulatory approval. Consideration will be determined at the time of any exercise of the option; however, it will at least be consistent with the carrying value of the assets.
About Pabst Brewing Company
Since 1844, Pabst Brewing Company has been American-owned and operated, and is North America's largest privately held brewing company. Pabst's portfolio includes iconic brands with deep ties to America's heritage, such as its flagship Pabst Blue Ribbon and others such as Ballantine IPA, Lone Star, Rainier, Schlitz, Old Style, National Bohemian, Stag, Stroh's, and Old Milwaukee. For more information about Pabst, please visit: www.pabstbrewingco.com.
About Vermont Hard Cider Company
Vermont Hard Cider Company, LLC, located in Middlebury, Vermont, is a leading hard cider producer in the United States, including Woodchuck Hard Cider and importer of Magners Irish Cider. Vermont Hard Cider Company handcrafts and manages all levels of quality control in Middlebury, VT by employing a team of cider makers with over 30 years of combined experience directly in cider making and a team devoted exclusively to producing, marketing, and selling hard cider. For more information about Vermont Hard Cider Company, please visit: www.woodchuck.com.