Beam Global Spirits & Wine has signed a new distribution deal with Southern Wine & Spirits of America.

Beam said today (28 January) that the agreement gave Southern Wine & Spirits (SWS) exclusive distribution rights to its portfolio in 21 US states, adding Kentucky and Arizona to the previous deal between the two firms.

Industry experts believe that having the right distribution deal in place may make or break a drinks company's performance in the economic downturn currently enveloping the US.

Beam owns brands such as Jim Beam, Canadian Club, Sauza Tequila and Cruzan Rum.

Bill Newlands, president of Beam Global's US business, told just-drinks today (28 January) that the SWS deal would simplify routes to market and increase efficiency in the firm's supply chain, therefore reducing pressure on margins as the economy weakens.

He declined to comment on the length of the contract, but said that it would run for "longer than a traditional contract in the industry".

He added that the addition of Kentucky to the SWS deal is an opportunity for Beam Global to increase its presence in the heartland of Bourbon. "This is a very important market for us and more so than you might expect," he said.

Wayne Chaplin, president and chief operating officer at SWS, said: "With this agreement, Beam Global and SWS will be partnered coast-to-coast - with Southern representing more than 50% of Beam's US business."