Looking at the Binny's/Sam's Merger

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Oct 9, 2009 2:00PM

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Last night the Tribune broke the story of Binny's Beverage Depot agreeing to buy Sam's Wine and Spirits for an undisclosed sum. We can't say that this wasn't unexpected. Our most recent visits to Sam's have been funereal, if not downright depressing. It also ends with a whimper the aggressive competition between the two big-box liquor wholesalers that was waged for almost six decades.

The fortunes of Binny's and Sam's in recent years couldn't have been more different. While Binny's expanded by buying out smaller retailers and re-branding them, Sam's Brian Rosen sold a majority stake in the company to Arbor, a local private equity firm in 2007, after he bought out his brother Darryl. That ended a long dispute between the Rosens regarding the direction of the company (see this post from 2007 for more). Venture capital firms like Arbor are always looking for a quick return on their investments. Sales figures for the other Sam's outlets in the South Loop, Highland Park and Downer's Grove weren't meeting projections. Sam's closed the Highland Park and South Loop stores within a month of each other. Both Sam's Blybourn Corridor and Downer's Grove locations will be re-branded as Binny's, bringing the total number of Binny's locations in the Chicago area to 24.

If you weren't planning on taking advantage of that Sam's warehouse sale we posted a couple of days ago, now you have more imperative to do so.