Heineken to merge distribution unit with Comans

Joint venture between Western Beverages, Comans Beverages to be run by Geoff Coman

Heineken Ireland is to merge one of its distribution units with Comans Wholesale, the drinks distributor owned by the well-known Rathgar, Dublin, family of publicans.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission on Thursday announced that Heineken’s Western Beverages is seeking approval to merge with Comans Beverages, a newly established company.

Recently filed documents for Comans Beverages show shares were issued in the new company last month to Geoff Coman and his brother Tom, in exchange "for the assets and undertakings of Comans Wholesale".

No cash changed hands, but the consideration for Comans Wholesale, the distributor of Dutch Gold, was put at €6.9 million in the documents. It is understood the new joint venture will be majority-owned by the Comans, whose Dublin-focused distribution company is larger than Western Beverages, which serves the west and south of the country for Heineken. It will be run by Geoff Coman and have well over 200 staff.

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It is understood the rationale for the tie-up includes amalgamating Heineken’s draught keg distribution into a single unit. Western Beverages distributes Heineken kegs from five depots in Kerry, Cork, Donegal, Limerick and Galway, while Comans distributes them in Dublin and the east.

Cider network

The merger will also bring together the national distribution network of

Orchard Thieves

, Heineken’s cider brand that is an upstart rival to C&C’s Bulmers. Comans is the Dublin distributor for Orchard Thieves.

C&C also owns a similar, nationwide Irish drinks distribution unit, after the buyout of Gleeson Wholesale in 2012.

Comans Wholesale is unlimited and doesn’t file accounts, although it had sales of €84 million a decade ago at the height of the boom. Western Beverages, whose accounts are no longer broken out by Heineken, had less than half the sales of Comans at that time.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is Business Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Caveat column