Blue Equity, a Louisville-based private equity firm controlled by Jonathan Blue, announced Monday the purchase of Liquor Barn from publicly traded Liquor Stores N.A. of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, for a reported $26 million.
Liquor Barn is a Kentucky-based spirits, wine and beer retailer with 15 stores, including six in Louisville and six in Lexington, and in Danville, Bowling Green and Elizabethtown.
Blue Equity already owns two Party Mart stores in Louisville, giving them a lock on the state’s party store business.
According to Blue Equity, corporate offices and all operations will be moved to Louisville, and it will become the largest locally owned and operated retail chain of spirits, beer, wine and party goods in the state.
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Blue Equity recently formed Blue Rose Spirits to invest in Liquor Barn. Blue Rose Spirits is a partnership between Blue Equity and developer Vince Rosenblatt. The two also have invested in Angel’s Envy bourbon and helped develop it into the brand, which was sold to Bacardi in 2015.
The acquisition of the Liquor Barn assets will allow the business to “secure nearly 175 full-time jobs for the commonwealth and build on the $10 million annual payroll base as well as continue to grow the business,” Jonathan Blue, chairman and managing director of Blue Equity, said in a statement.
Blue said the company plans to expand in Kentucky under the Liquor Barn name, and to renovate older Liquor Barn stores.
“The Party Mart stores will remain for now, but any new launches will be under the Liquor Barn name,” he said. “We’re already in the business in Louisville, and we wanted to bring the jobs back to Kentucky. ... Any time we can bring jobs and revenue back to the state, and create construction projects with renovations, we want to do it.”
Blue said the company isn’t concerned about increased competition from Total Wine, a chain that has one store in Louisville and has been considering opening a store in Lexington.
“Competition always makes us better, as long as it’s fair competition,” he said.