Glazer's Distributors, The Charmer Sunbelt Group and Wirtz Beverage Group are to examine ways to pool back office operations.

The three distributors said yesterday (28 January) that the "exploratory effort" will improve efficiencies but denied it is a first step in a merger. “This is not an exploration of a merger among the companies; instead it is an opportunity to find synergies and work together,” Wirtz executive VP Ed Callison Jr said.

The companies said the drive, expected to last a few months, will help lower costs, and maintain “best-in-class service”. It will focus on shared services such as finance, HR, IT, supply chain and procurement, the groups said.

The distributors are three of the biggest in in the US. Earlier this month, Glazer's announced it is to distribute Banfi Vintners' portfolio in five US states, while Diageo extended its partnership with Charmer in six states.