15 December 2023

Korean distributor dumps Carlsberg beer inventory over contract dispute

South Korea | GoldenBlue, a whiskey maker and distributor of imported liquors, said it has disposed of its remaining inventory of Carlsberg beer, in the aftermath of a so-called gapjil (abuse of power) with its Danish partner. The discarded beer is said to be worth nearly USD 380,000.

As the dispute is ongoing and expenses like storage costs accrued further losses, GoldenBlue had no choice but to dispose of all remaining inventory,” Korean media reported on 28 November.

GoldenBlue entered into import and distribution contracts with Carlsberg in April 2018. However, Carlsberg sent a contract termination notice to GoldenBlue in March, which prompted GoldenBlue to cease its Carlsberg beer distribution.

The Korean liquor company called Carlsberg's “unilateral” termination of that contract an act of gapjil.

GoldenBlue feels cheated

GoldenBlue claims it has elevated the Carlsberg brand from the Top 15 to the Top 10 position among imported beers in Korea through substantial investments. “Carlsberg Group did not disclose a reason for terminating the partnership. We believe that the group misled us when it sought to secure long-term contracts with us. But in the end Carlsberg entered the Korean market through its own sales office,” a spokesperson for GoldenBlue was quoted as saying.

According to the firm, Carlsberg terminated the initial import and distribution contract at the end of 2021. The partnership was maintained, albeit through short-term contracts, which only ran for two to three months at a time, until November 2022. In October last year, Carlsberg established its own sales office and begun distributing products directly through Carlsberg Korea.

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