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AB InBev Dips Its Toe Into Spirits, E-Commerce With Atom Group Purchase

April 19, 2018

AB InBev’s ZX Ventures has acquired the Atom Group, a U.K.-based e-commerce company and spirits producer and distributor, for an undisclosed sum. The deal gives ZX Ventures control of e-commerce site Master of Malt, craft spirits distributor Maverick Drinks, and the Atom Brands collection of spirits, which includes Ableforth, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, That Boutique-y Gin Company, and Drinks by the Dram (producer of whisky advent calendars), among others.

Following the acquisition, Master of Malt will end its U.S. sales, according to a letter to wholesalers from AB vice president Bob Tallett. However, Maverick Drinks—described as “a sales network through which the company currently imports products to the U.S. then sells through U.S. distributors to retailers”—will remain active in the U.S.

The Atom Group will remain under the direction of its current management team while gaining access to AB InBev’s international supply network and allowing for expansion of its e-commerce network into new global markets.

AB InBev launched ZX Ventures in 2015, dedicating it “to creating and analyzing the data necessary for determining our ideal strategies, products, and technologies.” The company has previously invested in consumer data-rich ventures such as homebrew businesses like Northern Brewer Homebrew Supply, and beer review website RateBeer. The Atom Group buy furthers that mission through Master of Malt’s data trove, while offering AB InBev a foothold in the spirits category. —Shane English

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