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Brooklyn, 21A and Funkwerks Disbanding Sales Platform While Remaining Partners

Brooklyn Brewery’s sales platform with 21st Amendment and Funkwerks Brewing is officially disbanding effective Jul 1, 2020, Brooklyn CEO Eric Ottaway confirmed with CBN following 21A’s letter to distrib partners. Cos “jointly decided to disband our sales platform,” 21A founders Nico Freccia and Shaun O’Sullivan stated in letter. And Brooklyn will maintain minority investments in both 21A and Funkwerks, Eric clarified. This is just about returning to individual sales forces for each brand, “unwinding what we put together originally.” 

Why make the change? “While the platform had numerous benefits for all partners, the synergies we dreamed of took longer to come together and came with their own unique new challenges,” wrote Nico and Shaun. Together “we have come to the conclusion that the joint sales platform is simply not efficient in current market conditions” amid COVID-19. Indeed, both retailers and wholesalers are cutting back on SKUs and focusing even more on local and regional brands, Eric elaborated with CBN separately. Right now, “a platform across the country doesn’t really make sense anymore” and addressing local mkts with “direct salesforce” for each brand is a “much better” approach. “The model keeps shifting,” almost on a yearly basis, Eric acknowledged, so the group will “keep shifting accordingly,” with aim to be as “swift and nimble” as possible. It’s anyone’s guess how long it takes for US to return to “normal,” and some say it could take anywhere from 3 yrs to a decade, he added, pointing out that it took 5-6 yrs to “fully” get out of financial crisis of 2008. But whatever it is, “it’s more than one year.” If the situation “changes again” co will “adapt again.”

As result, 21A will be “re-building our own sales team,” led by Sarah Swafford as Natl Sales Manager along with “many familiar, original 21A faces,” and “once again taking over our own logistics with ordering, shipping and billing,” per letter to distribs. Co will “create a tight and focused sales team dedicated to distributor management and allowing us more focus on our core brands in our biggest territories/markets,” including Area Sales Managers in all regions and east and west coast Chain Accounts Managers.

Brooklyn Cutting Back SKUs, But NA Special Effects “Bright Spot,” Adding IPA This Fall Brooklyn Brewery is producing less in general and cutting back on number of brands and SKUs to refocus its portfolio “a lot,” Eric shared. But while other products are “way down,” launch of non-alc brew Special Effects in US (and abroad) has been “bright spot,” performing “much better than we thought it would” even amid the pandemic. Co “underestimated the demand” and “should’ve launched with several more SKUs at the same time,” he reflected. So co will introduce new non-alc IPA this fall with full rollout in Jan 2021. In general, looking ahead to 2021, co will essentially take oppy to “redo” 2020 plans, “albeit with a much smaller” and more focused portfolio while leaning into what’s working with repurposed individual sales force.

International Biz “Opening Up Earlier”; NYC Set to Reopen On-Premise Mid-July As for Brooklyn’s sizable international biz, co able to manage thru its 4 employees based in Europe, one in Asia and “great partners in those locations,” between Kirin and Carlsberg. They’ve been managing “the same situation” there, but things are “opening up earlier” and COVID-19 had less impact in those mkts than in US, Eric noted. In home mkt of NYC, certain types of businesses are set to begin reopening next week in phases, with on-premise establishments currently set for mid-July, he shared. Tho unclear if a potential 2nd wave of the virus and/or current citywide curfews and protests will alter timing.

Publishing Info

  • Year: 2020
  • Volume: 11
  • Issue #: 52
Read 495 times Last modified on 06/05/2020