FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 24, 2008
SCHUMER PUSHES TO KEEP LABATT USA OFFICE IN DOWNTOWN BUFFALO FOLLOWING INBEV DIVESTITURE OF U.S. BASED OPERATION
As Part of Deal to Buy Anheuser-Busch, InBev Agreed to Divest U.S. Sales of Labatt Beer
Labatt USA Employs 20 People in Downtown Buffalo Office and Has Strong Community Value - Sponsors of Local Winter Hockey Tournaments, Boost to Economic Development
Schumer, In Personal Letter to Three Potential Buyers of Labatt USA, Urges Companies to Keep the Jobs and Benefits of National Office in Buffalo
Following InBev’s agreement to divest of its Labatt USA operation in its takeover of Anheuser-Busch, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today pushed to ensure Labatt USA national headquarters remains in downtown Buffalo, where it is an active corporate citizen, and maintains the jobs and benefits for its employees.
In an effort to protect the jobs and economic benefits of Labatt USA headquarters, Schumer wrote a personal letter to three potential buyers of the company and urged them -- should they acquire Labatt
-- to remain in Buffalo, noting the significant logistical, market access and economic benefits of being located in Western New York.
“There is no better location for Labatt USA headquarters than Buffalo, USA. Its key location at the center of western New York's large market, proximity to Toronto, and the region’s love for Labatt products make Buffalo a triple win for Labatt USA,” Schumer said. “I urge all companies that bid for Labatt to continue full operations in Buffalo so that we can keep the jobs, economic boost and social benefits we reap from the company’s presence. Labatt is a valued and active corporate citizen in western New York, and I want to make sure they remain right here.”
In November, InBev agreed to sell Labatt USA and grant a license to the buyer to brew and sell Labatt brand beer across the nation as part of its $52 billion takeover of Anheuser-Busch. The U.S. Department of Justice required the divestment in an effort to keep beer prices down in Upstate New York. Anheuser-Busch and Labatt are the two biggest sellers in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse markets.
The divestiture, which will happen after the InBev-Anheuser Busch merger is complete, left the fate of Labatt’s Buffalo office unknown.
Labatt USA employs about 20 people at its Buffalo office in Key Center on Main Street, and a total of 55 people across the country. In a move welcomed by western New York, the company returned to Buffalo in June 2007 after moving to Connecticut to be closer to its core customer group and key business partners. Besides the region's fondness for the brewer's various brands -- 1.8 million cases of Labatt products, including Labatt Blue and Rolling Rock, are distributed in Erie and Niagara counties each year -- company officials cited Buffalo's closeness to Labatt's North American headquarters near Toronto as integral for future growth. The twenty employees at the Buffalo office work on handling the importing, marketing and sale of Labatt-branded beer to wholesalers in the United States.
In an effort to keep the jobs and company in Buffalo, Schumer wrote a personal letter to three potential buyers - Crown Import, Diageo PLC and Heineken USA - urging them to maintain the full operation of Labatt USA in downtown Buffalo.
Schumer noted that the city’s close proximity to Labatt’s North American headquarters in Toronto, the beer’s sales concentration and its marketing value in Western New York make it an attractive location for the company to remain. Canadian beer has an excellent market in Western New York, and Labatt Blue and Labatt Blue Light are amongst the top-sellers in the area.
In the letter, Schumer wrote: “Despite its relatively short time in Buffalo, Labatt USA has already forged meaningful bonds with the local community through initiatives such as philanthropic outreach and sponsorship of local sporting events. The city has truly embraced Labatt as a valued member of the community. In addition, the prestige of housing the national headquarters of Labatt is a source of great pride to the residents and workers of Buffalo. With its proximity to Toronto and the region’s love for the brand, Buffalo remains the best choice for Labatt USA headquarters.
“As you move forward with possible plans to acquire Labatt USA, I once again urge your consideration of maintaining its corporate headquarters in Buffalo, New York.”
Below is a full copy of the letter sent to William Hackett of Crown Import, Ivan Menezes of Diageo North America, Inc. and Don J. Blaustein of Heineken USA.
November 24, 2008
William Hackett, President Crown Import
Ivan Menezes, President and CEO Diageo North America, Inc.
Don J. Blaustein, President and CEO Heineken USA
Dear Mr. Hackett, Mr. Menezes, and Mr. Blaustein
Recently your company was identified as a prospective buyer of Labatt USA. As you pursue this bid, I write to encourage you to maintain the national headquarters of Labatt USA in Buffalo, New York and to ensure the security of Labatt USA’s employee jobs and benefits.
Labatt USA has emerged as a leader in the domestic specialty beer industry. With a history that dates back to 1847, Labatt is known for the leading role it takes in its community. Over a year and a half ago, Labatt chose to return to the City of Buffalo to house its national headquarters. Labatt USA corporate headquarters employs over 20 dedicated workers in Buffalo and plays an integral community and social role in Western New York.
Despite its relatively short time in Buffalo, Labatt USA has already forged meaningful bonds with the local community through initiatives such as philanthropic outreach and sponsorship of local sporting events. The city has truly embraced Labatt as a valued member of the community. In addition, the prestige of housing the national headquarters of Labatt is a source of great pride to the residents and workers of Buffalo. With its proximity to Toronto and the region’s love for the brand, Buffalo remains the best choice for Labatt USA headquarters.
As you move forward with possible plans to acquire Labatt USA, I once again urge your consideration of maintaining its corporate headquarters in Buffalo, New York. Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer