Big Red Liquors expands footprint with 15-store acquisition

Indianapolis-based Big Red Liquors, already the largest chain of package liquor stores in Indiana, plans to acquire the 15-store Cap n’ Cork chain in Fort Wayne, expanding its footprint into the northern part of the state.

Big Red expects the deal, announced Thursday, to close in early July. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The acquisition is being led by Big Red co-owners Tony Knoble and Justin Collins, along with CEO and President Don Rix.

Cap n’ Cork, founded in 1964, is owned by Andy Lebamoff, son of founder George Lebamoff, and Andy’s brother-in-law Joe Doust Jr. The store originated from the Liberty Grocery & Liquor store, which was founded by George’s father, Argirie Lebamoff, in 1911.

Big Red said it would retain all 160-plus Cap n’ Cork employees and operate the acquired stores under their current name.

The deal will allow Andy Lebamoff and Doust to retire.

“Joe and I are excited that Big Red Liquors has entered the Fort Wayne market,” Andy Lebamoff said in written remarks. “We know they will continue the great service and selection of products that our customers have come to expect, solidifying Cap n’ Cork as a staple in the Fort Wayne community for over 100 years.”

The acquisition will boost Big Red’s store count to 75 statewide and its employee count to more than 600.

Big Red, founded in Bloomington in 1972, has more than 30 stores in the Indianapolis area.

“We are honored to be expanding our presence with this acquisition, reaching more customers and continuing the rich tradition of the Cap n’ Cork brand,” Knoble said in written comments. “With Big Red Liquors as the operator, we are confident the company will continue to see great success within the Fort Wayne community.”

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