Astor Wines & Spirits, one of New York City’s oldest and largest wine and spirits retailers, has been sold to its employees. The Fisher family, which has owned and operated the store for more than 50 years, completed the transaction August 16, 2022. Terms were not disclosed.

The sale was made to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). In an ESOP transaction, the current stockholders sell their shares to the ESOP, and are paid over time from the company’s earnings. Shares in the newly formed ESOP are allocated to employees who redeem those shares at retirement.

Company president Andy Fisher explained the decision. “My brother Rob, Astor’s Chief Operating Officer, and I believe the best succession plan is to entrust Astor to the people who have been so instrumental in building our enterprise. By becoming an employee-owned business, we ensure that Astor Wines & Spirits will maintain our qualitative standards in selection and service while providing the additional benefit of rewarding our outstanding team.”

Astor Wines & Spirits has been a Greenwich Village fixture since 1946. The Fisher family purchased the shop in 1968, when its original location was on Astor Place. In 2006 Astor moved to the landmark De Vinne Press Building at 399 Lafayette Street, at the corner of East 4th Street. In 2008 Astor Center opened at the same location; Astor Center is an educational facility that offers classes on wine, spirits and cocktails.

Astor Wines & Spirits has approximately 75 employees and carries more than 5,000 wines, spirits and sakes.

On retirement, the redemption value of the employee’s shares is predicated on the success of the business. ESOPS generally have higher sales and job growth than non-ESOP companies. Examples of other ESOPS include Publix Super Markets, WL Gore (the makers of Gore-Tex) and Bi-Mart.

Blue Hippo ESOP Advisors, Inc. and Royer Cooper Cohen Braunfeld LLC served as advisors on the transaction.

For more information, contact Andy Fisher at afisher (at) astorwines.com.

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