Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. Forms New National Accounts Division

 Beverage & Hospitality Industry Veterans Ken Kribel and Bill Edwards to Lead
Southern's New National Accounts Division


MIAMI, Sept. 21 -- Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc., the nation's largest wine, spirits, beer and non-alcoholic beverage distributor with operations in 11 states, announced the establishment of a new National Accounts Division, which will focus on servicing the beverage
requirements of the country's largest chain restaurant and hotel groups.
    Noting the key reasons behind the formation of the new National Accounts Division, Wayne E. Chaplin, President and Chief Operating Officer, said: "Our multi-state operation has grown very rapidly in recent years, which coincidentally has paralleled the growth of many of the most recognized names in the restaurant and hospitality industries, as well as that of many of our domestic and international supplier partners.  As a result, it is only a logical progression that for Southern to continue to serve their supply-chain partners in executing their ever-changing market strategies, that we would establish a new strategic National Accounts sales division.  This invaluable resource, made available to our customers and suppliers alike, is comprised of a group of talented and experienced executives whose sole aim is to offer professional, imaginative sales solutions and beverage program opportunities to some of the most innovative food-and-beverage operators in the world."
    Overall, at Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc., national account activity represents approximately 35 percent of total restaurant, bar, club and hotel sales nationally, according to Mr. Chaplin, who added that the Company expects total National Accounts sales to grow at a faster rate than the total on-premise trade channel.
    According to Mr. Chaplin, the new National Accounts Division will be headed by Ken Kribel, newly appointed as Vice President, Director, National Accounts, Southern Wine & Spirits of America. Mr. Kribel, who has been with the Company for more than 20 years, has worked in the highly competitive National Accounts business for the past 16 years and will be based in Cerritos, California, the headquarters of Southern Wine & Spirits of California, the state's largest beverage distributor.
    Mr. Chaplin added that Mr. Kribel will report to Mr. Steve Power, Executive Vice President, General Manager of Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida, which is based in Miami, and Mr. Brad Vassar, Vice President, General Manager, Southern Wine & Spirits of California, which is based in Cerritos, in southern California.
    Mr. Kribel is joined in this new division by Mr. Bill Edwards, who has led beverage strategies within a major multi-unit chain restaurant group for 17 years and has been appointed Vice President, Sales-National Accounts Division, Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. Mr. Edwards will be based at the Company's Miami headquarters and will act as a key account executive responsible for working with national account customers to help grow all aspects of their beverage business.
    Noting the clear focus of the new National Accounts Division, Mr. Power said: "Now that Southern Wine & Spirits of America operates in 11 states - many of which are home to major national restaurant and hotel groups - the need is greater than ever for our Company to speak with one voice when we work with these important customers." Mr. Power added, "Ken and Bill will have
direct access to all the Company's State General Managers, and these beverage and hospitality industry executives bring to us a real-life view of what a national account expects from a world-class distributor like Southern."
    Mr. Vassar further commented, "Our Company's new National Accounts Division is all about customer service, service to our retail and supplier trade partners alike.  National accounts is a rapidly growing business for Southern; this is also true for many of our valued supplier partners with the reality being that, as a result of the wide range of recognized premium brands that we represent, in many cases we are the single largest provider of beverages to this critical and fast-growing National Accounts trade channel." Mr. Vassar added, "Given the experience of our dedicated team, our corporate resources and our unrivalled beverage portfolio, Southern Wine & Spirits of America's National Accounts Division will be able to react to and execute the marketing plans of this vital and expanding market channel, as well as those of our supplier partners in a manner which is both cutting edge and consistent across our eleven (and growing) markets."
    In addition, Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. announced the following appointments to the National Accounts Division:  Ms. Joanne Mitchell, who previously headed the National Accounts group in Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida and is a 21-year industry veteran, has been named Vice President of Systems. In this position, Ms. Mitchell will be responsible for identifying and developing internal processes to elevate national account service and support. In addition, Lisa Barghahn has been named Vice President of Marketing for the National Accounts Division and is an executive who brings more than 20 years of beverage industry experience to her new responsibilities, including creating innovative beverage programs for the Company during the last three years.
    On a combined basis, the new Southern Wine & Spirits of America National Accounts Division will field a total of 32 sales and marketing executives, according to Mr. Kribel.
    Mr. Chaplin said, "We at Southern are extremely proud and excited about this new National Accounts Division. This 'dream team' of seasoned National Accounts executives is all about spreading 'best-practices' through our entire organization, and will only serve to improve the already high standards of service we strive to offer our customers and supplier partners every day."
    Mr. Chaplin added, "These new appointments and the creation of this new National Accounts division is more evidence of the growing importance of this sales channel to the entire beverage industry. Given the growing importance of this on-premise sales channel, we believe, by example, our support in the state of Florida of The School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Florida International University, as well as similar programs in other states where we operate, has benefited not only our Company by providing enriched and educated talent, but has also provided a source of quality entry-level employees for National Accounts operators themselves."

    For more information about Southern Wine & Spirits of America's new National Accounts Division, please call: 800-276-5148.

    Founded in 1968, Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. is the single largest distributor of wine and spirits in the United States. Today, Southern Wine & Spirits of America operates in eleven states, including its original Florida market, where its corporate headquarters is located in Miami. Over the past 36 years, Southern Wine & Spirits of America expanded into the following states: California, Nevada, Arizona, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Kentucky, New Mexico, Colorado and Illinois.