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    Eagle Brands Acquires Silver Eagle

    With purchase, Florida distributor doubles case volume and keeps business flowing with new categories when beer sales aren't.

    MIAMI -- Eagle Brands, an Anheuser-Busch (A-B) distributor based here, has acquired its Florida Keys counterpart, Silver Eagle, in a plan that will double the company's case volume and give rights to Eagle Brands to distribute A-B products farther than before, the Miami Herald reported.

    With the merger, Eagle Brands will increase its employees by 50 percent, totaling 240; increase its customer base to 4,000; and double the cases sold per year from 4.2 million to 7 million. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

    "This will expand our footprint to two entire counties," Eagle Brands president Carlos de la Cruz Jr. told the newspaper. "After this merger, we'll be selling in excess of $100 million [annually]."

    Large beer companies have forced smaller distributors to consolidate, Tom Pirko, president of California-based Bevmark told the Herald. "It's just an economic requirement," he said. "You've got to get bigger and bigger."

    To keep its head above water, Eagle Brands has expanded into other beverage categories. It started with the right to distribute A-B, but has grown to distribute imports Grolsch and Kirin, along with Hatuey, Polar and other malt beverages that are popular among the Hispanic market. Eagle Brands also began distributing non-alcoholic beverages to weather domestic beer's tribulations. The company won the local rights to distribute Hansen Natural Corp.'s Monster energy drinks. De la Cruz estimates that Monster will double its case volume by 100,000 cases annually.

    The company, which is the largest minority-owned A-B distributor in the nation and remains one of the largest A-B distributors in Florida, has some goals to compete with rivals such as Gold Coast Beverage Corp., the tenth largest beer distributor in the country, according to Beverage World Magazine.

    "It's basically a combination of two things -- trying to make sure we stay relevant with our domestic brands and then combine with the products that cater to the different ethnicities," de la Cruz told the Herald.

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