Business major

Major Brands CEO exits sale to New York group | Local company

ST. LOUIS — The chief executive of Major Brands, one of the state’s largest liquor distributors, is stepping down following a sale to a New York-based conglomerate.

CEO Sue McCollum told employees in a letter that the job has been “one of the greatest challenges and privileges of her life,” Major Brands said in a statement Tuesday.

She took over the top job from her husband, Todd McCollum, after his death in 2012. That same year, two big suppliers moved on to big-brand rivals, taking with them 50% of the company’s spirits business.

The big brands responded by buying fellow distributors Garco Wine Co. and Missouri Beverage Co., and battling its former partners in court.

That legal success continued last year, when the company won a nearly $12 million verdict against German liqueur maker Jägermeister, which had transferred its operations to an out-of-state company. Major Brands successfully argued that the move violated Missouri law.

Then, in January, New York-based Breakthru Beverage said it was buying big brands to bolster its presence in the Midwest as it strives to expand across the continent.

Breakthru, the product of a 2015 merger between family-run distributors in Chicago and New York, already had operations in more than a dozen other states and Canada, and had more than 7,000 employees and $6 billion. dollars in annual sales.

He didn’t say how much he paid for the big brands, which had about 600 employees and $400 million in annual sales.

McCollum leaves in April. The statement did not specify his plans. Her assistant noted that she still had two distributors in Florida.