Beverage Distributors Inc. of Cleveland and AFP Distributors Inc. of Glouster in southeast Ohio have asked U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson in Columbus to block the brewer from breaking their franchise agreements.
MillerCoors said in separate Aug. 19 letters that it was terminating the distributorships effective Sept. 25 under an Ohio law allowing such an action when ownership changes hands. The distributors sued the brewer last week in response.
The company is a newly formed joint venture between SABMiller’s U.S. unit and Denver-based Molson Coors Brewing Co.
MillerCoors is competing for market share against St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch, which controls about half the market. Anheuser-Busch recently accepted a buyout offer from Belgian brewer InBev SA worth $52 billion.
The industry is seeing consolidation as brewers grapple with rising costs for ingredients and fuel and a clientele that is increasingly reaching for wine, spirits and craft beers.