Diageo appoints Wirtz Beverage as Canada broker

04 March, 2014

Wirtz Beverage Group, a distributor of wine, spirits and beer brands, has been named exclusive national broker for Diageo beer, wine, spirits and RTD brands in Canada.

According to the world’s largest drinks group, the new relationship “is an important milestone in the evolution of Diageo’s route to consumer strategy” and will come into effect July 1, 2014.

Larry Schwartz, president Diageo North America said: “This arrangement with Wirtz Beverage provides us with the best of both worlds – a broker that understands our business and a dedicated Canadian sales force that knows our brands and the Canada market.

“I strongly believe that this is the right move for Diageo Canada.  As a business, we must continually adapt to the market, which is why improving our route to consumer has been a priority for our company. We have seen the benefits of this model in other parts of the world and can see how it will make Canada a more agile and efficient business allowing us to further invest in Diageo and our brands.”

Wirtz Beverage Group president Rocky Wirtz said: “Diageo and Wirtz Beverage have a long history of proven results, and we are eager to build on that success.  We will leverage our commercial sales expertise with training and development programs, market analytics and technology tools to support the Diageo brands across Canada, and we look forward to working closely with the country’s liquor boards.”

Wirtz Beverage has been in the wholesale beverage business in the United States for nearly 70 years.  The family owned and operated company is a division of Wirtz Corporation.

As a result of the new arrangement, Diageo’s brands in Canada will be represented by a dedicated sales force within the new brokerage entity, Wirtz Beverage Canada.

Many of the current Diageo sales people are expected to transition into roles within Wirtz Beverage Canada, according to Diageo. While the company will be under the leadership of Julian Burzynski, Wirtz Beverage executive vice president. 

Jakob Ripshtein has been appointed president, Diageo Canada replacing Maggie Lapcewich.  Jakob has been with Diageo since 2008 in a variety of roles globally and recently returned to Canada. Under Ripshtein’s leadership, Diageo Canada will continue to directly manage all other aspects of its business, in addition to working with the dedicated sales force within the broker.  

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