(CN) - Bacardi USA has filed a series of requests for declaratory relief seeking to pre-empt lawsuits by longtime distributors who are being replaced under a new distribution regime set to go into effect in March.
Last summer, Bacardi, the nation's fourth-largest spirits marketer, told members of its distribution chain that it intended to void an agreement going back to 2004, and put its supplier contract up for bid. In October, it announced it had decided to move its U.S. distribution to Southern Wine & Spirits and Glazer's Distributors of Texas, Inc.
In complaints filed on Jan. 7, Bacardi USA says it gave its distributors and brokers ample notice that it intended to issue a request for proposals related to its distribution network, and invited them to submit bids.
Bacardi publicly announced its final decision on distributors and brokers on Jan. 11, 2015, and that its new agreements will go into effect on March 31, 2016.
Bacardi seeks a declaration that its actions were "appropriate and consistent" with the terms and conditions of the request for proposals, and that its former distributors therefore cannot seek to enjoin or otherwise interfere with its new distributor relationships, or sue it for damages.
Miami-based Southern Wine & Spirits operates in 35 markets, while the Dallas-based Glazer's operates in 15. Southern's main markets are California, Florida and New York; Glazer's are Louisiana, Missouri and Texas.
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