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Diageo Creates New Unit For Niche Spirits Brands

September 12, 2011

Aiming to create a major growth avenue for its niche spirits brands in the U.S. market, Diageo North America has formed Catalyst, a new business unit with a portfolio of 28 brands currently totaling 2.7 million cases and roughly $250 million in annual sales revenue, equal to about 6% of Diageo’s total U.S. spirits volume.

The Catalyst portfolio is comprised of Tanqueray Sterling, Pimms, Moon Mountain, Rökk, Myers’s, Rumple Minz, Goldschläger, Jeremiah Weed, Emmets, Parrot Bay, Stirrings Liqueurs, Old Parr, Lagavulin, Glenkinchie, Cragganmore, Dalwhinnie, Caol Ila, Clynelish, The Singleton, Dimple, Oban, Talisker, George Dickel, Black Haus, Romana Sambuca, Yukon Jack, Zwack and Ursus. The new unit’s goal is to double volume and sales revenue to 5.4 million cases and $500 million in the next three years. “We’ve set very aggressive goals for this portfolio,” said Diageo USA president Larry Schwartz. “We believe that these brands have huge potential.”

Catalyst will be headed by Sandra LeDrew, who’s currently president of Diageo Chateau & Estate (DC&E). Joining LeDrew on the Catalyst leadership team are Melissa Calderwood, who will serve as Catalyst’s finance director, and Judd Zusel, who will be marketing director when the unit becomes operational on October 1. Additional roles are slated to be announced in the near future. “We’re going to give these brands the attention they deserve,” LeDrew said of the Catalyst portfolio. “This is a major growth opportunity for Diageo.”

Diageo North America is also revamping the structure of its wine business. Effective October 1, the company is reshaping DC&E into a fully integrated wine supply and demand function, while moving from a standalone wine sales unit to a company-wide spirits and wine sales force. Greg Kryder, currently finance director at Diageo Great Britain, will succeed LeDrew at the helm of DC&E. He will report to David Cutter, president Americas Supply, while being accountable to Schwartz for commercial and marketing areas of the DC&E business.

“North America is a developed market with the consumer opportunity of an emerging market,” Schwartz added. “We have the brands, the people and now we have the structure to leverage this opportunity and outpace our competitors.”

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