Southern Wine & Spirits of America has been granted a permit to operate in the US state of Texas.

The wine and spirit distributor confirmed the approval of its wholesaler permit application with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission yesterday (4 March). Southern said it will operate in the state through its subsidiary Southern Wine & Spirits of Texas.

"With the addition of our Texas division, Southern will be the only major wine and spirits distributor licensed in each of the nation's top five wine and spirits markets," said Southern's president and COO, Wayne Chaplin. "With a presence in 30 states nationwide, Southern would now be able to cover in excess of 72% share of the total US wine and spirits market based on consumption."

Harvey Chaplin, Southern's chairman and CEO, added: "We look forward to serving the Texas-based local, regional and national on- and off-premise customers as well as all of the future supplier partners who will join us in Texas. Any interested supplier should feel free to contact me at our Miami, Florida headquarters.

"Our options are numerous as we look towards either acquiring an existing business or establishing a brand new distributorship from the ground up. Once started, we expect to make an immediate impact."

The estimated 2006 population of Texas is 23.5m residents, making it the second most populous state in the US behind California's 36.5m inhabitants. In terms of total wine and spirits sales volume, Texas ranks number four nationally with combined 2006 wine and spirits sales of 23.8m nine-litre cases, according to the Adams Liquor and Wine Handbooks.