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News Briefs for March 2, 2012

March 2, 2012

•Charmer Sunbelt Group and Glazer’s Distributors are merging their brokerage operations in Mississippi and Alabama. The transaction is expected to close April 1. General Wholesale Company, which currently partners with Charmer Sunbelt in the states, will retain its interest in the ventures. Current Glazer’s regional president Scott Rawlings will oversee the newly formed operations—Alliance Beverage of Alabama and Alliance Beverage of Mississippi. Charmer Sunbelt and Glazer’s already partner in Arizona, where they jointly own Alliance Beverage, one of that market’s leading spirits and wine distributors.

Patrón Spirits Co. has named Southern Wine & Spirits as its exclusive distributor in Washington state. Southern now represents Patrón in 25 markets. Southern also announced the appointment of Chris Ferri as vice president, general sales manager for Washington. Ferri will report directly to John Klein, executive vice president, general manager of the Pacific Northwest. Ferri previously served as vice president, director of off-premise merchandising, for Southern Wine & Spirits of California.

William Grant & Sons will auction off a bottle of its limited edition, 55-year-old Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve Scotch at a New York charity gala on March 15 to celebrate the Glenfiddich’s 125th anniversary. Actor Adrian Grenier will host the event at Liberty Island, with proceeds going to SHFT Initiatives (founded by Grenier to promote environmental causes). The Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve, bottled in November 2011, was made to honor the oldest living Scot. Eleven bottles were produced. The first bottle was sold in December at an Edinburgh auction and broke a European record, fetching £46,850 ($72,630).

•Shares of Yelp were up more than 60% at midday in its Nasdaq debut today, from a starting price of $15. The initial public offering of $15 a share valued the local business and restaurant review site at $900 million. Yelp’s total revenue, which is generated from advertisements on its website, was $83.3 million in 2011, up 74.6% from $47.7 million in 2010, while its net loss for 2011 was $16.7 million, up 74.2% from $9.6 million in 2010.

•Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group is expanding its Shake Shack concept to New Haven, Connecticut, near Yale University’s Old Campus, this fall. This will be the chain’s second Connecticut outpost, joining one in Westport. The debut will coincide with the start of Yale’s 2012-2013 academic year. New York-based Shake Shack currently has 12 U.S. locations, as well as international outposts in Dubai and Kuwait City.

•Daily deal website company LivingSocial has announced plans to launch its first credit card in partnership with Chase, part of JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Visa Inc., Reuters reports. The card will be available for all LivingSocial U.S. subscribers. Those who make 10 monthly purchases with the card will receive 10 “Deal Bucks,” which can be used to pay for LivingSocial deals, including discounts on restaurants, bars, spas, museums and various other businesses and services. The credit card release is the company’s attempt to attract repeat customers to the merchants who participate in LivingSocial deals.

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