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Exclusive: Major Market Change As Diageo Leaves Empire For Southern Glazer’s In New York

June 1, 2020

Diageo is switching distributors in the New York market, aligning with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, effective September 1. Empire Merchants has previously handled the Diageo portfolio in New York.

According to Shanken’s Impact Newsletter, Southern Glazer’s had revenues of $1.8 billion in New York last year, trailing only Empire, whose 2019 revenues totaled $1.9 billion.

By adding Diageo’s estimated $400 million portfolio—including Smirnoff, Crown Royal, Johnnie Walker, Captain Morgan, Don Julio, and other key labels—Southern will overtake Empire to become the No.-1 wine and spirits distributor statewide. Diageo accounts for an estimated 22% of Empire’s total revenues. Along with Diageo, Southern’s New York portfolio includes Bacardi, Beam Suntory, Campari, Pernod Ricard, and Rémy Cointreau, which also recently switched from Empire.

“New York is both a significant business hub and national influencer market and critical to our route to consumer,” Diageo noted in a statement to SND. “This change will bring scale, alongside enhanced capabilities and analytics, powered by a world class sales organization.”

Diageo’s move represents a significant setback for Empire, whose portfolio includes Stoli, E.&J. Gallo, Treasury Wine Estates, William Grant & Sons, Brown-Forman, Moët Hennessy, and others.—Daniel Marsteller

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