Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

News Briefs for January 23, 2014

January 23, 2014

•Less than a month after the departure of Rémy Cointreau CEO Frederic Pflanz, the French drinks group is now in need of a new head for its core Rémy Martin Cognac unit. Industry veteran Patrick Piana, who had helmed Rémy Martin since 2009, has left the company. Buffeted by the slowdown in luxury spirits in China, Rémy Martin’s sales for the nine months through December were down 21% to €589.5 million ($796m), the company revealed in recent days. With former CEO Pflanz announcing his resignation earlier this month, Remy Cointreau is now being helmed by chairman François Hériard Dubreuil during the transitional period. Along with its search for a new group CEO, Rémy will also now be on the hunt for a strong executive to lead the world’s second-largest Cognac brand in the midst of a difficult period. Remy said a successor to Piana would be appointed “very soon.”

•Australian bulk and bottled wine exports fell 6% by volume to 678 million liters, as sales by value dropped 5% to A$1.76 billion ($1.56b), for the year ended December 2013, according to trade group Wine Australia. Bottled exports lost the most ground over the 12-month period, falling 8% to 298 million liters, versus the 4% drop in bulk wines. Four of the country’s top five export markets ceded volume, including the U.S.—Australia’s second-largest wine export market—which fell 11% by volume to 174 million liters and 2.5% by value to A$440 million ($390m). The U.K., China and Germany also registered volume losses, and Canada emerged as the sole top-five market to register volume growth for 2013.

•Pernod Ricard has inked a marketing deal with beverage alcohol-delivery startup Drizly, which says it has raised $2.25 million in seed capital toward its goal of becoming “the Amazon for beverage alcohol.” Currently present in New York City and Boston, Drizly was created by three Boston College classmates in 2011. The company says its iPhone app allows consumers a “fast and responsible on-demand delivery experience” and “provides retail stores a simple, secure way to offer convenient, and responsible on-demand liquor delivery.” The new round of investment will allow it to expand markedly, Drizly adds, reaching more U.S. consumers and cities over the next six months. Pernod’s partnership with Drizly will center around promotion, education and brand awareness. “Pernod Ricard is actively exploring new platforms that create value for our consumers, and Drizly represents a unique path-to-purchase opportunity for wine and spirits shoppers,” said Tim Murphy, vice president, digital and media at Pernod Ricard USA.

•Sidney Frank Importing Co. has partnered with Montreal’s Spirits by Maison des Futailles L.P. to become the exclusive U.S. importer of whisky and maple syrup blend Sortilège. A blend of all-natural maple syrup and Canadian rye whisky aged in white oak barrels for a minimum of three years, the liqueur is 60-proof. As the brand’s exclusive U.S. importer and distributor, Sidney Frank is currently rolling out Sortilège nationwide, at a retail price of $19.99 a 375-ml. Sortilège joins the Jägermeister and Bärenjäger brands in Sidney Frank’s liqueur portfolio.

•The GlenDronach Distillery has launched two new single malt Scotch expressions—The GlenDronach 15-year-old Tawny Port Wood Finish, and The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 2—both of which will be available in the U.S. through Anchor Distilling Company. Known for its sherried single malts, GlenDronach experimented with different types of wood for maturation to find how it would influence the whisky. The 15-year Tawny Port Wood Finish is matured in European oak and finished in Tawny Port barrels. It is 46% abv with a suggested retail price of $79.99. The Cask Strength Batch 2 is 50-60% abv, $149.99 a bottle, and has been matured in a combination of Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso Sherry casks. Founded in 1826 by James Allardice, GlenDronach is owned by Scotch whisky veteran Billy Walker’s BenRiach Distillery Co., which revived the distillery in 2008 after acquiring it from Chivas Brothers.

•Diageo is extending its Smirnoff Sorbet Light vodka range with a new flavor, Pineapple Coconut. The new entry, retailing at $15.99 a 750-ml. bottle, has 78 calories per 1.5-ounce serving, in line with the rest of the brand. The Smirnoff Sorbet Light line, which debuted last March, also includes Raspberry Pomegranate, Lemon and Mango Passion Fruit flavors.

•MillerCoors posted U.S. sales to retailers down 1.9% in the three months through December, the fiscal third quarter of parent SABMiller. The group’s premium light brands—including Coors Light and Miller Lite—fell by mid single digits, while its premium regular brands saw a low single digit decline, as mid single digit growth for Coors Banquet partially offset a double-digit decrease on Miller Genuine Draft. Meanwhile, Leinenkugel’s and Blue Moon drove low single digit growth for MillerCoors’ Tenth and Blake craft and import unit. Along with those labels, MillerCoors said its Redd’s flavored beer franchise has been a bright spot at the above-premium level since launching last year, achieving “notable success” in the early going.

•Bud Light Platinum is launching a new creative campaign rooted in electronic dance music that will feature marquee DJs and partnerships with national and local festivals. “Turn Up Your Night,” developed by Translation, will debut during the 56th Grammy Awards on January 26 with a 15-second ad featuring Grammy nominated DJ/producer/songwriter Zedd and his new single “Find You.” The slogan “turn up your night” will be included throughout the ad. Music and nightlife have been at the core of Bud Light Platinum’s identity since its launch in 2012, and past ad campaigns have included partnerships with Sensation, Kanye West, Avicii and Justin Timberlake.

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