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Bourbon Drives Beam Suntory To Mid-Single-Digit Growth In U.S.

November 6, 2017

The ongoing strength of the Bourbon boom is paying off for Beam Suntory, which says its U.S. sales grew at mid-single-digit rates in the first nine months of this year. The solid performance led to share gains during the period for Beam Suntory in the U.S., where the company is the third-largest spirits player—after Diageo and Sazerac—with 2016 volume of just under 23 million cases, according to Impact Databank. Last week, Beam Suntory named Albert Baladi as its global COO and U.S. president, replacing the departing Tim Hassett.

In the nine months through September, Beam’s Bourbon portfolio continued to show strong progress in control states. Excluding flavors, Jim Beam’s control state volume grew 6% during the period, while Maker’s Mark (+7%), Knob Creek (+12%) and Basil Hayden’s (+31%) also made solid gains. Results were similar in Nielsen channels, where Jim Beam was up 7% including flavors for the 52 weeks through September 9, and Maker’s Mark and Knob Creek advanced by 7% and 11% respectively. Beam Suntory added that its new Jim Beam Vanilla flavor has seen “excellent initial results” since launching in August.

Also on the rise is Beam Suntory’s Sauza Tequila, which was up 15% in control states and 21% in IRI channels in the first nine months of the year. Cruzan rum (+11% in control states and +7% in Nielsen) likewise continued its momentum, while Pinnacle (-4% in control states/-1% in Nielsen) struggled during the period amidst difficult conditions in the vodka category.

Globally, Beam Suntory’s sales matched the mid-single-digit growth rate achieved in the U.S., as the Bourbon portfolio and recent addition Sipsmith gin rose by double-digits. Overall, parent company Suntory Holdings’ beverage alcohol revenue—also including global beer and wine interests—has increased 3.9% to ¥739 billion ($6.5b) for the year-to-date, while operating income is up 8.5% to ¥65 billion ($570m). —Daniel Marsteller

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