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US company sues Southern Glazer’s for allegedly blocking its orders

A Chicago start-up that sells alcohol to the on-trade has accused two of the United States’ biggest booze distributors of illegally stopping trade to its platform.

A law suit filed on Tuesday 29 March by alcohol e-commerce site Provi targets the two largest booze distributors in the US.

Southern Glazer’s and Republic National Distributing Co. (the only two nationwide alcohol distributors in the US) stand accused of conspiring to block Provi’s online orders, forcing consumers to make purchases through their websites instead.

Launched in 2016, Provi offers an online space for bars, restaurants and liquor stores to buy alcohol, and provides data analytics on sales.

It has been used by a number of large chain restaurants, including Olive Garden, as well as many smaller restaurants and bars.

The complaint alleges that Southern Glazer’s and Republic National Distributing Co (RNDC) took steps last summer to block customer orders routed through Provi’s system, which in turn encouraged the on-trade to use their own online platforms, Southern Glazer’s Proof and eRNDC.

The lawsuit follows a report last month which found that consolidation in alcohol distribution within the US was making it difficult for small producers and start-ups to succeed.

Southern Glazer’s operates in 44 US states, while RNDC caters to 35.

Provi, which describes itself as “The all-in-one alcohol e-commerce platform”, aims to simplify the way customers restock their alcohol inventory and boost customer sales by “tapping into their biggest buyers”. Its overarching mission is to connect the different tiers of the alcohol industry so that “everyone has the ability to thrive”.

Its founder and CEO Taylor Katzman recently announced a partnership with Allied Beverage Group, New Jersey’s biggest wine and spirits distributor, which will see Allied’s 15,000+ SKUs integrated into Provi’s marketplace to provide “a more flexible and efficient ordering experience”.

The Chicago-based start-up has so far received in excess of one million orders from beverage buyers, sales reps and distibutors.

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