Beverage Dynamics

Beverage Dynamics Mar/Apr 2018

Beverage Dynamics is the largest national business magazine devoted exclusively to the needs of off-premise beverage alcohol retailers, from single liquor stores to big box chains, through coverage of the latest trends in wine, beer and spirits.

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16 Beverage Dynamics • March/April 2018 I f you've ever shopped for beer, wine, or spirits in Kentucky, chances are you've visited a Liquor Barn store. It's the largest independent chain of alcohol retailers in the state and boasts some of the largest and most elaborate bourbon allocations in the world. Founded in 1984, the chain was family-owned until 2009, when it was acquired by a publicly traded Canadian company. In November 2017, Liquor Barn once again found itself under new ownership, when the Lou- isville-based private equity fi rm Blue Equity, LLC purchased the 15- store chain. Now that Liquor Barn is once again a Kentucky-owned company, a plethora of new resources are on hand to help elevate this powerhouse chain to the next level. UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT Blue Equity is no stranger to the alcohol retail industry. Two years prior to purchasing Li- quor Barn, the fi rm acquired two Party Mart stores, which sell wine, beer and spirits along with an assortment of party supplies. Now all of these stores operate under the Blue Equity umbrella, giving them access to corporate resources they never had at their disposal before. "We basically run the administrative function for each member of the portfolio fam- ily of companies," explains Jonathan Blue, chairman and managing director of Blue Liquor Barn Returns to its Local Roots wEquity. "Support from Blue Equity includes things like marketing, advertis- ing, operations and selection of certain vendor partners such as insurance and benefi ts, while much of the store-level management has remained unchanged." Blue says that his fi rm was drawn to Liquor Barn because of the company's long history of operating in the Kentucky market. He adds that Liquor Barn's prime locations (six stores in Louisville, six in Lex- ington, and one each in Danville, Bowling Green and Elizabethtown) make them top destinations for consumers. Together, Li- quor Barn employs nearly 300 people, and several of its largest locations are 35,000 to 40,000 square feet, allowing it to carry more products than most competitors. "We literally can't keep bourbon in stock, and the best way we can truly serve our cus- tomers is by our size and expansion," Blue says. As a result of the acquisition, Liquor Barn is now positioned to evolve in ways it never could before. KENTUCKY PRIDE Liquor Barn's move to Blue Equity is just the latest example of how grounded the company is in its home state. Perhaps the most unique aspect of these stores is how so many components of the business have a local fl avor. Spirits are by far the top seller BY MELISSA SHERWIN KENTUCKY PROUD

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