Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits

To become the biggest and best in its industry, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits turned to Grant Thornton

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Services: Sales, Delivery, Merchandising
Sales: $16.5B
Products: 5,000 brands

“Over the years we have grown and evolved by adapting to our competitive business environment, with Grant Thornton’s help along the way. We set our sights on preparing for the future, consistent with our founders' vision of constant change in a consolidating industry. We now find ourselves playing on an entirely different level with the same family values of our founders.”
Lee Hager
Executive Vice President
Secretary and Administration
Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits
To help achieve its growth strategy, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits (SGWS) sought a team that not only knew its industry inside and out, but also M&A, tax strategy, finance transformation and innovation.
The last decade was a time of massive consolidation for wine and spirits distributors. SGWS (then known as Southern Wine & Spirits) faced a challenge that would mark their future. The path they chose was an aggressive growth strategy — one that resulted in the combination of Southern Wine & Spirits with Glazer’s, Inc. and catapulted the private company into the lead among wine and spirits distributors in North America.
To execute part of this growth strategy, SGWS turned to Grant Thornton — its lead accounting and consulting firm of more than 25 years. As the company pursued strategic growth and carefully selected M&A targets, Grant Thornton’s Transaction Advisory Services team assisted SGWS’s internal teams in providing critical due diligence, valuation and guidance, followed by post-integration advice in areas of finance and tax transformation as well as a range of additional organizational improvements.
Today, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits is North America’s largest wine and spirits distributor. The company has operations in 44 states and the District of Columbia, Canada and the Caribbean, and employs approximately 21,500 people.
With Grant Thornton’s assistance, SGWS successfully integrated its merged entities, reduced inefficiencies, updated its tax structure and positioned itself to lead the wine and spirits distribution industry for many years to come.

“We know the world is changing, and we need to change. We’re challenging the status quo and that’s really difficult in a successful company. But that’s one of the things I’m most proud of.”

Thomas Greenlee
Executive Vice President
Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits

our capabilities in action

Tax strategy

Enabling profit with the right tax strategy

After closing its industry leading merger with Glazer’s, a leading family-owned company, the vastly expanded entity had numerous complex decisions to make when it came to preparing for tax reform. SGWS needed a tax strategy that would enable it to maximize opportunities in the wake of tax reform. Our team worked closely with the SGWS finance team to assess the implications of various options and minimize risk going forward. Ultimately, we helped SGWS convert from an S-corporation - one of the nation’s largest - to a C-corporation.

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Finance infrastructure

A sound infrastructure is the key to a strong financial future

Given its rapid growth, SGWS was ready to take a step back and determine how to operate more efficiently. Audit was cumbersome to accomplish. Payroll administration costs were skyrocketing because SGWS was running multiple, duplicative systems. They turned to Grant Thornton to help their leading Finance team reshape their infrastructure for the future — from finance to accounting to IT controls. By redeploying assets to value-added areas and finding efficiencies to save money, the company can access its financial and operational information much more quickly, which strengthens timely decision-making and provides a competitive advantage going forward.

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ACCO Brands

With ACCO Brands expansion on the horizon, we stepped in to help

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Headquarters: Lake Zurich, Illinois, USA
2017 Sales: $1.95 billion
Employees: approximately 6,600

“Our focus has been to approach ACCO Brands as one team. Specifically, we share the knowledge we gain on engagements across the whole team in the U.S. and with GTIL member firms, which gives us insight into ACCO Brands’ activities and makes us more responsive to their needs.”
Paul Melville
Transaction Advisory Services
For more than a century, ACCO Brands has been one of the world’s largest suppliers of business, consumer and academic products, with almost $2 billion in sales.
ACCO Brands has long been known as an industry leader that promotes innovation and focuses on delivering exceptional value to its shareholders and customers by providing unique, cutting-edge office products. ACCO Brands has grown both organically and through acquisitions, particularly in international markets.
Grant Thornton and ACCO Brands have a long relationship built on a solid foundation of trust. We earned that trust over time by listening to their needs, proactively coming up with innovative ways to add value, engaging teammates across our U.S. firm and our global network, Grant Thornton International Ltd. (GTIL), to bring our full capabilities to bear and providing exceptional client service. So as ACCO Brands acquired companies around the world, its leadership team turned to Grant Thornton for help with valuation and Sarbanes-Oxley readiness, as well as compliance.
Working with Grant Thornton International member firms, we deployed teams with technical specialists and people who understood the laws and regulations in each of the countries involved. Based on the depth of this team, we won the opportunity to help ACCO Brands with more acquisitions, including the buyout of ACCO Brands’ joint venture partner in Australia, and a European acquisition that tripled its market presence in Europe.
Our ability to quickly understand the marketplace, leverage knowledge gained on engagements across the teams and deliver exceptional results helped us win additional opportunities to help ACCO Brands and provide end-to-end solutions for some of their most complex challenges, most recently with the new lease accounting standards. Currently, Grant Thornton member firms in the United States, Mexico, the UK, Poland, Germany and France support ACCO Brands across Tax, Audit and Advisory, and help the company to manage and grow its complex, global business.

our capabilities in action


Our comprehensive suite of Corporate Value Consulting solutions solves complex client issues centered on value

ACCO Brands needed help with valuation as part of its acquisition of Esselte, the market leader in Europe, which significantly increased ACCO Brands’ footprint across multiple European countries, presenting challenges in scope, language and tax law. Working with colleagues from several GTIL member firms, ACCO Brands was able to close the Esselte deal, become the industry leader in Europe and capture opportunities for future growth. The knowledge we gained gave us visibility into potential risks and issues ACCO Brands faced, enabling us to provide additional recommendations and advisory solutions, strengthening our relationship for the future.

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Lease accounting

The new lease accounting standard comes with challenges, risks and opportunities

With the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s new ASC 842 leasing standard, most public companies like ACCO Brands were facing the second major change in accounting standards within two years. ACCO Brands looked to Grant Thornton to help them meet the challenge of adopting the new standard. Our successful approach was to listen to the needs of ACCO Brands’ management team, provide an agile team to execute a phased process and deliver deep experience to address technical matters. This combination proved vital for a successful implementation.

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9.3out of 10

client satisfaction score firmwide