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Brown-Forman Buys Maximus Vodka from Altia

June 30, 2011

Brown-Forman Corp. has agreed to buy Polish vodka brand Maximus from Finnish drinks company Altia PLC. Brown-Forman acquired Finlandia vodka from Altia in 2004 and has been distributing Maximus in Poland since then, through its Warsaw-based subsidiary Brown-Forman Polska. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Brown-Forman chief executive Paul Varga called it “a relatively small acquisition and investment.”

Poland is Finlandia’s largest market at more than 100,000 cases, according to Brown-Forman, but the Polish market experienced difficulty last fiscal year. As the credit crisis hit hard, retailers and wholesalers reduced inventories, consumers traded down to local products and on-premise spending declined. Finlandia did gain share in Poland last year, and Jack Daniel’s has been showing double-digit growth in the Polish market in recent years.

Finlandia plays at the top tier of Poland’s vodka market, along with brands including Absolut, Bols Excellent and Chopin. Maximus competes below that in the premium tier, against brands including Smirnoff, Eristoff and Wyborowa. The Maximus acquisition appears to be an effort at pricing diversification within the Brown-Forman vodka portfolio.

 

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