Monarch Beverage Co. to be acquired by Illinois beer distributor

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Illinois-based Reyes Beer Division plans to acquire Indianapolis-based Monarch Beverage Co., Reyes announced Monday.

The transaction is scheduled to close Dec. 11. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The acquisition will add approximately 600 new employees and distribution operations that deliver 16.1 million cases to more than 6,000 customers, with brands from suppliers including Molson Coors, Constellation, Heineken USA, Diageo, Mike’s, Boston Beer, Yuengling, Lagunitas and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Reyes is one of the largest private companies in the country and is the largest beer distributor. Throughout 2020, it has grown significantly through acquisition.

In addition to acquiring Monarch, the company has also acquired the assets of Elyxir Distributing LLC in the Monterey Bay Area of California, the Bay Area Beverage Co. in Northern California, Claypool Distributing Co. in Imperial, California, and certain distribution rights of Saccani Distributing Co. in Sacramento, California.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to add a new state to our footprint,” Tom Day, CEO of Reyes Beer Division, said in written comments. “Indiana is home to great brands, retailers and consumers. We are looking forward to learning the market and bringing our strengths and scale to our new customers.”

Monarch has been family-owned and locally operated since 1947. It was founded by Edwin T. French Sr. and has operated under three generations of French family ownership, expanding into Indiana’s largest beer distributor. In 2009, the company moved into what it described as a “state-of-the-art” 500,000-square-foot distribution center on Pendleton Pike in Lawrence.

It delivers an average of 50,000 cases of product a day to retail customers throughout the state.

“This acquisition represents the coming together of two great long-standing family-owned businesses. Reyes Beer Division is a proven industry leader, and we are confident that they will be a great distributor for the state of Indiana and lead the business to further success,” Monarch CEO Phil Terry said in written comments.

He did not immediately return a call from IBJ seeking further comment.

Over the past couple of years, Monarch has had its share of ups and downs.

In 2017, it brought Yuengling to Hoosiers, a win for the company. But it failed to convince state lawmakers to allow the beer and wine distributor to also distribute liquor, which led to a major supplier, E. & J. Gallo Winery in California, ending its relationship with Monarch. Monarch ended up closing its wine division in 2018.

For years, the company had challenged Indiana’s so-called prohibited interest law, which prohibits a beer wholesaler from acquiring an interest in a liquor-wholesaling permit and vice versa.

A change to the law would have allowed Monarch to enter the liquor wholesaling business, but it lost that fight in the administrative, legislative and judicial arenas.

Monarch has landed on IBJ’s largest private companies list for years. In 2017, the last year it submitted information to IBJ, it reported total revenue for 2016 at $341 million. At the time, the company had 705 employees, but it laid off 100 employees in 2018 when it closed its wine division.

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11 thoughts on “Monarch Beverage Co. to be acquired by Illinois beer distributor

    1. John, you are so right. From a business standpoint here’s another company you can no longer do business with because they are controlled elsewhere. I wish Indiana companies were the ones doing the buying once in a while, but that rarely is the case. On a secondary note, Indiana should lift all alcohol restrictions and let the free market dictate who can buy and sell. Why do we need all these controlling and restrictive laws? Who are they protecting in this day and age?

  1. Just like Indiana’s antiquated banking laws led to pretty much all of our banks being aquired by out of state banks, our antiquated alcohol laws have led to this.

    1. I have lived in other States – when I try to explain Indiana Liquor Laws, no one believes me. You can’t buy Cold Beer at Kroger? You have to go to a separate store for Cold Beer? What?

    2. Exactly so! Monarch will become just another branch warehouse, and Lawrence will lose an excellent corporate citizen (and a major supporter of local nonprofits).

  2. Monarch Beverage and Phil Terry were great corporate and individual citizens in our community, sorry to lose them. What is not well known is that when it moved to its newly built location in Lawrence, it sold its “old” building to Gleaners Food Bank, that was needing a new location and had been searching for a couple of years. Sale price and terms of payment were very kind to Gleaners, thank you Monarch and Phil. When Gleaners moved in, the place (office, warehouse, storage, everything) was spotless. You could tell Monarch was a well run business by the way it cared for its property. We can only hope that the buyer shows the same sense of responsibility to its workers and the community.

  3. It’s SO sad to see Monarch ownership sold to out-of-staters. Monarch and Phil Terry have been such good corporate ‘neighbors’ to fellow Hoosiers. Thank you Monarch for your many good works.

  4. Also sad to see a local company selling to out-of-state buyers. Monarch and Phil, thanks for all you’ve done and tried to do opening up the free market in our state.

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