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News Briefs for October 24, 2012

October 24, 2012

•Despite ongoing struggles in its core Western European business, Heineken NV’s net profit rose by 9.9% to €577 million ($749 million) in the third quarter, as sales rose by 7.1% to €4.97 billion ($6.45b). The Dutch brewer enjoyed solid growth in most of its key markets, including the Americas, for the three-month period. Stripping out the impact of currency effects and acquisitions, sales were up 4%—2.5% due to higher selling prices and 1.5% due to volume increases. In the Americas, the company’s beer volumes advanced by 4.4% to 15.5 million hectoliters, as depletions in the U.S. increased by low-single digits, resulting in market share gains. The Dos Equis franchise drove the U.S. growth.

•Investment firm Castlegate Capital Advisors, which acquired the assets of financially troubled custom-crush winery Crushpad in August, is utilizing those assets in its launch of The Wine Foundry, a new Sonoma-based custom producer. With the formation of The Wine Foundry, which began operations earlier this week, Castlegate says it’s been able to secure the wines of the original Crushpad customers and avoid the likely mass liquidation that would have occurred under a court trustee or assignee. While those customers will incur additional one-time processing costs, they will not lose the wines they ordered, which are in barrel or bottle. The Wine Foundry has also released a new catalogue with a collection of vineyards from such regions as Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Santa Barbara.

Pernod Ricard USA is launching Oddka—a spin-off of its Wyborowa vodka brand—in select U.S. markets. Priced at $15.99 a 750-ml., the new brand features an original, unflavored expression (40% abv), as well as a range of unconventional flavors (30% abv), including Apple Pie, Electricity, Fresh Cut Grass, Salty Caramel Popcorn and Wasabi. Oddka is backed by fictional mascot Wit Oddoski, described by Pernod as a “charismatic individualist and curious 2-D line drawing” who consumers can follow via Facebook and Twitter. Oddka by Wyborowa will initially rollout in Alabama, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, with global expansion slated for 2013.

•Total Wine & More is slated to open its latest store in Fort Worth, Texas, this week. The new location is Total Wine’s second in the state, joining a Dallas outpost that opened in May. Featuring the retail chain’s new “next-generation” layout, the Fort Worth store will include a tasting area, wine cellar-inspired classroom, expanded humidor, improved visual signage and iPad capabilities. Total Wine & More currently operates 85 wine stores in 13 states, with expansion into Connecticut expected to bring it to 14 states by the end of the year.

•Pernod Ricard has established its new U.S. headquarters at 250 Park Avenue in New York City. Pernod now has relocated all employees from its previous Manhattan office—including executives from the Pernod Ricard Americas Region—to the new office, and also has shifted selected employees from Purchase, N.Y. to 250 Park Avenue (while retaining the Purchase office).

•User-generated review website Yelp has acquired Germany-based online review service Qype—Yelp’s biggest competitor in Europe—for $50 million, which will be recorded in the company’s fourth quarter. Yelp has spent the last two years growing its presence in Europe but has been unable to keep up with Qype, Europe’s largest online reviews service. Yelp’s acquisition of Qype will bring its total users up to more than 100 million worldwide. Yelp has also released its preliminary third-quarter financial results, posting expected revenue of $36.4 million, up from $32.7 million the previous quarter, and a quarterly net loss of $2 million. The company will be reporting its third-quarter earnings next week.

•Iconic Los Angeles-based burger chain Umami Burger has plans to open its first unit outside California with a 60-seat restaurant in New York City’s Greenwich Village neighborhood, slated to debut in March 2013. The New York City Umami Burger will be the first of several outposts planned for the East Coast. The full-service casual restaurant chain is known for its wide selection of specialty burgers and its full-bar offerings, including craft beers, wine and cocktails. There are currently 14 Umami Burgers throughout California.

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