SAS Broadens Sales, Distribution Efforts in Florida; Wins Key Retailer Authorizations; Sees State’s Bud Network More Receptive to NA Brands
SAS Sales & Marketing has been slowly enhancing its consulting and distribution offerings in South Florida, winning authorization as vendor at several key chains and expanding staff to 7. Recall that company whose initials stand for founders Susan and Andy Stallone (he helped build out AriZona Iced Tea brand in Fla in early 1990s) started by offering early-stage brands assistance with strategy and sales calls before building out modest distribution arm in 2017 as way to help its clients garner some in-market traction before they approach established distributors about coverage (BBI, Nov 14 2017). In discussion with Andy yesterday, longtime beverage operator discussed SAS brand lineup that includes Rise Coffee, Sprig CBD, PLNT Water, Phocus and Just Chill, serviced by team that includes Andy and 6 colleagues, 4 of them in Miami area and 2 working west coast inland to Orlando. It draws from warehouses in Boca Raton and Tampa. After initially focusing on indie stores, SAS lately has been able to win authorization as vendor at several key chains: Lucky’s, Earth Fare, Nutrition Smart, Earth Origins Market and Chamberlin’s Natural Foods. That’s been helpful with clients like Sprig, which had won chainwide nod from Earth Fare but boasted no DSD partner to support chain’s Fla stores. So SAS has filled gap. SAS has also developed solid working relationship with broadliners UNFI and KeHe, which recognize it as incubator that can help develop enough momentum for a new brand to be worth a bet. And SAS is happy to team with established distributors, such as Bud house Double Eagle, to broaden coverage for clients, as it does now for Sprig. Though regarded as an influencer market that’s receptive to new concepts, South Florida has been a headache for innovative NAs since indie shop Sand Dollar went under years ago after losing Red Bull brand. Beer networks, particularly Bud houses, have been tuff to crack by NAs. Lately, tho, that’s changing, perhaps as outgrowth of slowing beer trends. “The climate has changed” on Bud side, Stallone reported, with some Bud houses establishing separate NA divs to give those brands greater focus. They’ve proved particularly interested in performance energy brands like Bang, C4 and Celsius (we reported yesterday that Celsius is entering all but 3 Bud houses in state). There’s also “tremendous interest” in CBD, tho most are standing pat until there’s greater regulatory clarity. One exception is Double Eagle, carrying Sprig entry in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade Counties.