Lion New Zealand will close its foodservice distribution division Drinks Collective in December to streamline operations at its “increasingly complex business”.
It created the division around six years ago to specialise in distribution of brands it either owned or had a a stake in together with independent drinks labels.
“Lion New Zealand has made the difficult decision to close the Drinks Collective, its specialist route-to-market into the restaurant & café channel,” Lion said.
“The team worked with several of New Zealand’s most innovative beverage manufacturers to bring to market a unique and better for you offering.”
The company said it was working with distributors to transfer management of its non-exclusively distributed brands such as Benjer, Chia Sisters and Pete’s Natural juices and Six Barrel Soda Co drinks.
Brands that it owned or exclusively distributed including Panhead, Emerson’s, Zepher Cider, Mac’s Soda, and Nakd, could still be purchased through Lion.
Lion added that “the Drinks Collective team has done a great job of growing the business over the past few years and we are supporting them through these changes”. It was working with the team to identify staff redeployment opportunities.
The move follows the Australian-led sale of its dairy and drinks division for approximately A$550m to ASX-listed Bega.
Lion is also seeking a buyer for its Liquor King retail business, which it had owned for more than 25 years, during which time the retail landscape had “changed significantly” according to Lion NZ country director Craig Baldie.