Tuck Lee acquires majority stake in Dre@amfields

In early September, Singapore-based beer distributor Dre@mfields sent out a letter to all its customers notifying of a surprising development – that it had entered a strategic merger with Tuck Lee Ice.

We print the letter here in full:

Dear Partners,

We are pleased to announce Tuck Lee and Dre@mfields have entered into a definitive merger agreement. This partnership strives to strategically enhance our domestic and regional market coverage, with an unparalleled portfolio of iconic brands. Our new operations with Tuck Lee will commence, effective 1st September 2015. This will encompass all the logistics, technical and billing aspects of our business. All current Dre@mfields sales contracts and marketing activities remain unchanged. With this new strategic alliance, we look forward to delivering a holistic beverage solution and your continued support of our new platform.

That the beer distributor – which distributes brands such as Weihenstephan, Schneider Weisse, Moritz and Nøgne Ø in Singapore – has entered a merger with a company better known for selling ice is not the surprising part; Tuck Lee Ice itself over the years have been distributing a range of beers, ciders, wines and non-alcoholic beverages in addition to its core business of selling ice. What is surprising, however, is that the talks between both companies have been happening for around three years before reaching fruition.

Dre@mfields director Ian Lim shares that the merger between his company and Tuck Lee Ice was born of similar motivations in synergistic growth, a view towards domestic and regional growth, portfolio diversification and expansion, as well as a join recognition of a changing market environment beginning to lean towards higher quality, premium, and craft products. Lim reveals that both companies have worked together on multiple occasions such as Beerfest Asia and Oktoberfest Asia, but serious plans for merger started end 2014. “(Tuck Lee Ice general manager) Jeremy Hauw and I have always been checking in on each other,” he shares.

“Tuck Lee has acquired a significant majority stake in Dre@mfields,” confirms Lim. “That said both companies will continue to exist focusing on their key strengths, eliminating laggard weaknesses.” He adds that Dre@mfields will continue to exist, and will continue to build inroads into six other markets in the APAC region while Tuck Lee Ice will drive domestic sales and operations. They are also embarking on new projects beyond beer distribution.

Dre@mfields’ Ian Lim insists that Tuck Lee is no stranger to the beer business. But that track record has been spotty of late; at one point Tuck Lee was distributing Asia Pacific Breweries’ ‘World Beer’ portfolio, including the likes of Estrella Damm, Monteiths and Kopparberg, until that was relinquished to Royalton Wine & Spirits early 2014. It also lost its distribution rights for Nippon Craft Beer’s Kagua range earlier this year to Eastern Craft Trading.

But the merger is likely to help change those fortunes. Dre@mfields brings aboard expertise and a new formula to the mix with their guerrilla and boutique beer approach.

“(Our) three year view is that beer will be more than 50% of (our) total beverage turnover,” Lim adds.