Centennial Beverage Group Files for Corporate Bankruptcy in Texas
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Centennial Beverage Group Files for Corporate Bankruptcy in Texas

December 31, 2012

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Centennial Beverage Group, a drink wholesaler based in Texas, is filing for bankruptcy and may close several stores, according to a recent report from the Dallas Morning News.

Sources say that voters’ removal of old laws that heavily restricted the sale of alcohol at grocery and convenience stores have opened the door to increased competition for the 76-year-old company, which has long held a virtual monopoly on alcohol sales in many Texas counties.

In the last two years, following the liberalization of Texas drinking laws, several new chain outlets have opened liquor stores in Dallas and Fort Worth. In addition, existing stores like Kroger and 7-Eleven have started selling liquor for the first time.

The influx of new competition forced Centennial to dramatically reduce its prices, but its efforts to retain market share eventually proved fruitless, according to sources. The company, however, plans to stay in business during the bankruptcy process, but it does hope to sell a significant amount of its inventory in order to start repaying some debts to its creditors.

According to Centennial’s bankruptcy filing, the company had sales of $158 million during the last calendar year, so its filing is regionally significant. The company also has nearly 250 employees.

Despite the seemingly robust sales figures, sources say Centennial’s sales dropped by 50 percent from 2011, according to statistics cited by the company’s chief executive officer, Gregory L. Wonsmos.

The filing represents a tidal shift in the Texas liquor industry, as Centennial, which was founded in 1968, had the state’s largest chain of liquor stores as recently as March 2010. The company has high hopes for a financial recovery, though, and it certainly has a vast range of assets to sell.

Sources note that Centennial holds roughly $8.4 million in inventory, which includes vast warehouses full of beer, wine, and liquor. But Centennial must shed about $5 million of debt before the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission will allow it to purchase more inventory.

So by filing for bankruptcy, Centennial reportedly hopes to shed its debts, sell some old assets, and emerge from court as a leaner, healthier company.


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