Southern Wine & Spirits of America has acquired a minority equity position in its fellow wine and spirits distributor The United Group.

The two company's said they hope the move will strengthen their respective wine and spirits distribution operations throughout key Northeast and Mid-Atlantic markets.

The deal includes Southern's purchase of The United Group's control state operations, Hannah & Dunn LLC of North Carolina and Virginia and United Beverages, Inc. of New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.

Raymond Tye, chairman of the board of The United Group of Braintree, said: "I have known the Chaplin family and Southern's senior executives for many years, and I am very excited at the prospect of our two great companies joining forces to do what we do best - sell the brands of beverage alcohol with which we have been entrusted; this, to the total satisfaction of our suppliers and our customers."

CEO of Southern Harvey Chaplin said: "Our new partnership with United Liquors Ltd. is a landmark in the history of Southern Wine & Spirits of America. We are extremely proud that Ray Tye, Dave Roberts and the entire United team will maintain their management responsibilities going forward, fully collaborating with our team to ensure the success of this great partnership."

Tye added: "This partnership agreement strengthens both our companies and assures not only job security of all our employees here at United, but also the long-term continuity of our operation."

Tye will continue to serve as chairman of the board of United and Dave Roberts will continue as vice chairman and CEO of United Liquors Ltd.

Tye said United have agreed with Southern that it will maintain its management oversight for United Liquors Ltd., United Beverages, Inc. and Hannah & Dunn LLC, while working closely with Southern Wine & Spirits of America's Control State Management team.