A Mamaroneck company claims that a UK beverage-maker fabricated problems to cancel their distribution deal.
Brands Within Reach LLC sued Belvoir Fruit Farms Ltd. on May 28 in federal court in White Plains for $2.5 million.Belvoir, the complaint states, believed “it could make more money on its beverage products – which BWR (Brands Within Reach) had spent years introducing, branding and distributing in the marketplace – by cutting out the distributor.”
Belvoir did not respond to an email request for comment.
Brands Within Reach owns the marketing and distribution rights to several food and beverage products, such as Evian water, Illy coffee and Nestea teas. Mamaroneck resident Olivier Sonnois, a former Danone executive, founded the company in 2003.
Sonnois has agreed to sell Brands Within Reach to New Age Beverages Corp. of Denver for an undisclosed price, according to a New Age news release issued today.
Belvoir, based in Leicestershire, in the English Midlands, produces fruit cordials, pressés and mixers.
In 2012, the companies negotiated a deal for Brands Within Reach to market and distribute Belvoir’s beverages in the U.S. and Canada. The deal automatically renewed in 2017 for three years.
If the deal were to terminate without cause, the complaint states, Belvoir would have to pay Brands Within Reach $5 per case of products sold from the beginning of the agreement, or reimburse Brands for all of its overhead, marketing and regulatory costs.
Belvoir recently tried to renegotiate the terms, according to the complaint, to remove the termination fee. When Brands Within Reach refused, Belvoir allegedly claimed that Brands had breached the agreement by, for example, failing to make payments on time and misstating the sales volume.
All six alleged breaches are “phony,” the complaint states.
Belvoir notified Brands Within Reach on May 8 that it was canceling the agreement and demanding £320,341– about $404,605 – for outstanding invoices.
Brands Within Reach is asking the court to declare that Belvoir has breached the contract and to order Belvoir to pay a $2,462,835 termination fee.
Brands Within Reach is represented by Anthony M. Rainone of Brach Eichler LLC of Roseland, New Jersey.
Brands Within Reach’s new owner, New Age Beverages, promotes itself as a one-stop-shop for healthy beverages. The acquisition, according to the news release, will strengthen its branding, sales, and distribution expertise in North America.
Sonnois will serve as the president of a new brands division.