Bought by a Belgian Company.
I heard scuttlebutt about this, thought it would be SABMiller, but different buyer.
Story is here:
Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing sold to Belgian firm
By KEVIN COLLISON
The Kansas City Star
Boulevard Brewing, a popular Kansas City institution that’s grown to be one of America’s largest craft brewers since its founding in 1989, is being sold to a Belgian brewer, Duvel Moortgat.
John McDonald, who started the iconic brewery in a warehouse at 25th Street and Southwest Boulevard with used equipment, said for him, at age 60, it was time to find a buyer.
“My kids are too young to take over, and I don’t want to be 70 coming down here arguing with people,” he said.
“I’ve done the right thing for the brewery, for me, for our employees and Kansas City. We’ll make more beer and keep employing people.”
From the days Boulevard hauled its first products around town in an Isuzu panel truck, the firm has grown to become the 12th ranked craft brewer in the nation with 125 employees.
It produces 185,000 barrels of beer and sells it in 25 states coast-to-coast, along with the District of Columbia and a small presence in Scandinavia.
“We’re the best-selling American craft beer in Norway,” Krum said. “There’s a strong interest in American craft beer in Europe.”
But Kansas City remains its heart, with almost half of its product sold within a 50-mile radius, and its transfer from local ownership comes with some pangs of loss.
Not long ago the scrappy brewery bragged it was Missouri’s largest after beer giant Anheuser-Busch was sold to InBev, another Belgian company.
Boulevard’s familiar orange and green diamond-shaped logo, quirky retro-style advertising and labels, and its sponsorship of events from church carnivals to major league baseball, have woven its flavor deep into the fabric of the community.
Jeff Krum, chief financial officer, acknowledged that the sale of Boulevard would be a disappointment to many people who’ve taken hometown pride in the company.
“We’re still Kansas City’s hometown brewery,” Krum said. “We’re not going anywhere, and we’ll do what we’ve always done.
“Kansas City is the foundation of our business. We’ll continue to give back to the community.”
McDonald said he reached out to Duvel three months ago and struck a deal that’s expected to close by the end of the year. The financial details were not disclosed. Duvel, a family owned Belgian firm founded in 1871, brewed 700,000 barrels of beer last year and employs 900 people.
“We went to them and they were very interested,” McDonald said. “They’re seven times bigger than us and they have a global vision, but working through local breweries.
“This is not what happened in St. Louis (with Anheuser Busch and InBev), it’s totally different. We will add jobs and investment and not cut two-thirds of our work force. They are very collaborative.
“We’re going to be partners going forward, but they will have control.”
For Boulevard, the sale to Duvel — which means devil in Flemish — gives the firm an opportunity to expand more rapidly to keep up with the growing demand for its variety of products.
Its most popular beers remain its mainstay Boulevard Pale Ale and Unfiltered Wheat, but its brews have expanded to a wide selection of year-round and seasonal offerings as well as its artisanal Smokestack Series sold in 750 ml bottles and four packs.
McDonald said the sale to Duvel should allow it to accelerate a $20 million expansion of its fermentation operation at the plant campus on Southwest Boulevard.
“I think this is a good thing for the brewery,” he said. “We could do it on our own, but we can do it faster with them.”
For Duvel, the purchase will allow the company to expand its U.S. presence. The firm has a toe-hold, selling about 60,000 barrels of its “strong golden ale” in this country. It also recently bought a small brewery, Brewery Ommegang, based in Cooperstown, N.Y.
“Our path for growth became abundantly clear as I got to know John and Boulevard,” Michel Moortgat, CEO of Duvel, said in a statement.
“Our companies share the same values. We have great mutual respect for each other’s achievements and maintain a deeply held belief in exceptional quality as the platform for long-term success.”
McDonald said the current management team at Boulevard would remain intact. A year ago, the firm hired Mike Magoulas, a former regional vice president of MillerCoors, to take over the CEO position from McDonald.
Duvel is expected to assign some management staff to Kansas City. McDonald also will have a seat on the Duvel board of directors.
Though Duvel sees its purchase of Boulevard as an opportunity to grow in the U.S., there are no plans to brew its products here or Boulevard products in Belgium.
McDonald said Boulevard’s marketing arrangements with Sporting Kansas City at its stadium Sporting Park and the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium also would remain unchanged. The firm also will continue to be involved with its Ripple Glass recycling program and other local commitments.