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News Briefs for November 15, 2013

November 15, 2013

•Walmart’s U.S. sales were down slightly in the third quarter, but the retail giant’s beverage alcohol business was a bright spot. Yesterday, while discussing Walmart’s financial results, Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon said he was “pleased with the continued strength in adult beverages, which delivered a high single-digit positive comp” in the third quarter, ending October 31, 2013. While beverage alcohol sales were up on a comparable basis, Walmart is also placing more emphasis on the category, adding adult beverage sections to a number of Walmart Supercenter and Neighborhood Market stores around the country.

SABMiller chairman Graham Mackay has stepped down for the second time this year, following what the company called a “sudden worsening” of his medical condition. Deputy chairman John Manser, who served as acting chairman during Mackay’s first absence, has been reappointed to the role, effective November 14. Mackay took his initial leave of absence in April for surgery on a brain tumor, and returned to his non-executive chairman role in September. According to SABMiller, the company’s board is currently keeping the position under review.

Brown-Forman is launching its Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select into additional U.S. markets through the end of this year. Previously available only in global duty free and Tennessee, the ultra-premium offering will now also be offered in the Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco and New Jersey markets, priced at $165 a 750-ml. The 90-proof whiskey is aged in specially designed “Sinatra barrels,” which feature grooves to allow for more barrel-liquid contact.

•Campari America has hired San Francisco-based ad agency Venables Bell & Partners to handle creative for its Skyy vodka brand, reports Adweek. The move marks the end of Skyy’s partnership with La Jolla, California agency Lambesis, which has led the vodka franchise’s creative for 15 years. Skyy, which is currently at around 2.8 million cases in the U.S., spent a total of $13.9 million on media advertising for 2012, according to Impact Databank. For 2014, however, the brand’s media spend is expected to rise to around $30 million, according to Adweek estimates.

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