The Fisher family, which has owned and operated the business since 1968, shared the information in a press release yesterday. Terms of the transaction, completed on Aug. 16, were not disclosed.
Company president Andy Fisher explained the decision in a statement.
"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," he said. "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 approximately 75 employees.
Here's more about how the sale worked:
In 2006, the shop moved from Astor Place to its current home in the De Vinne Press Building at 399 Lafayette St. on the NE corner of Fourth Street. In 2008, Astor Center — an educational facility that offers classes on wine, spirits and cocktails — opened at the same location.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 free to employees who redeem those shares at retirement.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.