Tonawanda News

Business

July 13, 2007

LABATT USA: Company opens new headquarters in Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo didn’t have to twist any arms to land Labatt USA’s new corporate headquarters, but it did bend a few elbows.

The Canadian beer company formally made itself at home in downtown Buffalo Thursday, crediting the region’s showing as one of Labatt’s strongest U.S. markets.

Labatt USA President Glen Walter and a sales and marketing of staff of about 20 will occupy 8,500 square feet of space in the move from Norwalk, Conn. A sports-theme lounge serves as a tasting room for VIPs.

Besides the region’s fondness for the brew — 1.8 million cases of Labatt products are distributed in Erie and Niagara counties a year — company officials cited Buffalo’s closeness to Labatt’s North American headquarters near Toronto, a little more than an hour away.

“With close proximity to Canada, our core customers and key business partners, Buffalo is important to Labatt USA’s next phase of growth,” Walter said.

He toasted the city at a ceremony with Mayor Byron Brown and other elected officials that also included Buffalo Sabres Coach Lindy Ruff and Buffalo Bills cheerleaders, whose organizations provide plenty of customers.

From its new headquarters, Labatt USA will import and market Labatt Blue, Labatt Blue Light, Kokanee and other Canadian brands in the United States, as well as Brahma beer from Brazil.

The relocation was announced after Labatt’s parent company, Belgium-based InBev S.A., in February transferred U.S. import rights for several of its European brands, including Stella Artois, Beck’s, Bass and Hoegaarden, to Anheuser-Busch. InBev is the world’s largest brewer by volume.

Labatt has a 28 percent share of the market in western New York. Its roughly 1 percent share of the overall U.S. market makes it the country’s top-selling Canadian beer.

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