Long Island beer distributor Clare Rose plans to close its Melville distribution facility in early March and consolidate operations at its East Yaphank headquarters, president and CEO Sean Rose said Wednesday.
Clare Rose, the exclusive Long Island distributor of Anheuser-Busch InBev products, said in a letter sent to employees Tuesday that the move was necessary to “further increase efficiencies” amid challenges in the beer industry.
“Change is difficult and these decisions weren’t made lightly, but it’s something we feel we had to do to stay competitive within the marketplace and for the betterment of the company and all its employees,” Sean Rose said.
As part of the transition, the company has laid off 14 workers, he said. The third-generation family business employs about 300 people. Rose said he doesn’t anticipate more layoffs and may hire additional drivers to handle new distribution routes required by the move.
Drivers who previously started their routes in Melville will now start work out of the East Yaphank location.
In the letter, the company said its goal is to make the transition with “as little disruption to our employees and business needs as possible,” but that it was aware that “some employees will be impacted.”
Teamsters Local 812, which represents delivery drivers and warehouse workers at the company, “has requested a meeting with management,” spokesman Alex Moore said Wednesday.
Rose said the beer industry has seen challenges in recent years.
“Consumption per capita has been on the decline,” he said. “We have had significant volume decline because we’re a big player.”
While the growing craft beer segment has in some ways served as a “windfall” for distributors with its generally higher price points, the volume of craft beer that consumers drink has not compensated for the reduced consumption of traditional brands, Rose said.
Additionally, the beer industry overall has lost “share of stomach” to other alcoholic competitors such as wine and spirits, he said.
Rose said the company has considered consolidating operations for years and began working on its moving plans in recent months.
The company, founded in Patchogue in 1936 as a small soda distributor, distributes AB InBev brands, including Budweiser, Bud Light and Blue Point, to around 5,000 restaurants, bars and retailers across Nassau and Suffolk counties.
The company opened its Melville facility, at 255 Pinelawn Rd., in 1995, according to the Clare Rose website.
The company owns the 125,000-square-foot facility, which includes about a dozen loading docks. It plans to lease the facility to another tenant, Rose said.
In April 2017, more than 100 Clare Rose delivery drivers and warehouse workers represented by Local 812 went on strike after unsuccessful contract negotiations. After a strike lasting nearly three months, the company and union reached a new contract in July 2017.