Boutique liquor distributor loses business to Coke

A New Zealand boutique liquor distributor will lose a significant part of its business to global beverage giant Coca-Cola Amatil.

Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) will distribute a line of beers by Canadian-based company Molson Coors in a move that will bring a new line of alcohol to the New Zealand.

As part of its plans, CCA will take over the distribution of the brewer's Cobra beers from Auckland-based Hi IQ Liquor, which has sold the Molson Coors product to restaurants and supermarkets across the country for 12 years.

Hi IQ Liquor owner Lance Swain said he was shocked to learn from APNZ today that Molson Coors was planning to hand his distribution line of Cobra to CCA.

As recently as last week, Mr Swain said he had been told by his contacts at Molson Coors in England that they knew nothing about a CCA takeover.

However, a spokesman for Molson Coors told APNZ: "Under the new agreement with CCA, all Molson Coors products - including Cobra - will be distributed by CCA.''

Mr Swain said he had recently organised a new shipment of Cobra, due to arrive in New Zealand next month.

The Molson Coors spokesman said a takeover date had not been confirmed but CCA has previously reported it would start distribution in "mid-2012''.

"It is surprising. I've got to go back to them now and get a timeline and find out what the hell is going on,'' Mr Swain said.

He said he had invested a lot of time in promoting Cobra, which is one of the highest selling products for Hi IQ Liquor.

CCA told investors this month that it would start distribution of a range of Molson Coors beers in New Zealand, including Coors Light, Carling, Caffrey's and Cobra.

The move is part of a larger plan by CCA to re-enter Australia's billion-dollar brewing industry by 2014.

At the company's annual general meeting, investors were told CCA's six-step plan to break back into the Australian industry would include entering New Zealand's market with "international partners''.

Molson Coors is the only partner they have revealed.

- APNZ

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