Thursday, October 28, 2010

Berkshire Hathaway unit buys Nashville beverage distributor

Nashville-based Horizon Wine & Spirits has agreed to be acquired by the McLane Co. of Temple, Texas, and Atlanta-based Empire Distributors, the companies have announced.
The move expands McLane and Empire’s alcoholic-beverage distribution business into Tennessee. Horizon, founded in 1947, also has operations in Chattanooga and says it’s the state’s largest distributor of alcoholic beverages.

McLane, a $30 billion food-service supply company and a unit of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., in April acquired Empire, which distributes alcoholic beverages in Georgia and North Carolina. It was McLane’s first move into the alcoholic-beverage business.

Tommy Bernard, chief executive of Horizon and son of founder Harold “Jobe” Bernard, will remain in charge of the company after the sale is completed, the McLane Co. said.

"McLane and Empire are very excited about our agreement to acquire Horizon and enter the Tennessee market," said David Kahn, Empire’s president. "Tommy Bernard has built one of the finest and most highly respected companies in our industry, and we look forward to providing Tommy our full support and resources to continue Horizon's leadership in the market and to position ourselves for further growth in Tennessee and beyond."

Tennessean business writer G. Chambers Williams III may be reached at 615-259-8076 or

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