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News Briefs for August 4, 2011

August 4, 2011

•Pernod Ricard has suffered another setback in its duel with Bacardi Ltd. over the U.S. trademark to Havana Club rum. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit today upheld a 2010 decision by a U.S. District Court in Delaware that found no significant risk of consumer confusion as to whether Bacardi’s Puerto Rico-produced Havana Club brand—sold in the U.S. in small quantities—is made in Cuba. “No reasonable interpretation of the label as a whole could lead to the conclusion that it is false or misleading,” said U.S. Circuit Judge Kent Jordan. Pernod says it will now “consider its options” in the ongoing trademark battle. Pernod general counsel Ian FitzSimons said, “It’s important to note that this decision does not grant any right in the ‘Havana Club’ trademark to Bacardi. We’re determined to continue to fight for fair competition in the United States market where ownership of the ‘Havana Club’ trademark dates back to 1976.”

•Amid slowing sales and rising commodity costs, restaurant chains P.F. Chang’s and Ruby Tuesday are aiming to increase traffic with new strategies. After a 2.5% drop in second-quarter sales last month, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. has expanded its menu with more affordable dishes (priced between $8-$12) in an effort to attract lower-ticket consumers. The chain is also revamping its lunch options—offering lighter, lower-priced fare—working on improving service and investing $25 million to accelerate a 2012 remodeling plan. Ruby Tuesday, meanwhile, aims to drive alcohol sales up from 9% to 12% of its total with new drink offerings, and has also aggressively marketed through digital, television and print platforms, as well as movie theater ads. Ruby Tuesday is also investing in several new concepts, including seafood restaurant Marlin & Ray’s, upscale restaurant Truffles, the Asian-inspired Wok and a chain of low capital-intensive Lime Fresh Mexican Grills, expected to open in several test markets by next year.

•Southern Wine & Spirits has appointed Kirt Clemens svp, eastern region, for its North American Spirits & Wine Brokerage division (NASW), effective August 1. Clemens was previously vice president-general sales manager for Southern’s Mid-Atlantic division, based in Raleigh, a position he held for five years. In his new role he’ll report to NASW evp-general manager Robert Swartz. NASW is the Southern Wine & Spirits division handling Diageo and Moët Hennessy brands across the 18 control states.

•New York City’s Old Homestead Steakhouse is set to expand with a new location at Caesar’s Palace of Las Vegas. The restaurant is slated to open by the end of the year and replaces Neros restaurant, located near the resort’s Colosseum theater. The 16,000-square-foot space will hold 250 seats in a full dining room, as well as a private dining room, lounge and bar. The wine menu at the new location will mirror what is offered at the NY restaurant—15,000 bottles will be housed on-site with by-the-glass options available to diners. Caesar’s Palace also houses three other well-known restaurants: Chef Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, Rao’s Italian restaurant and Serendipity 3.

•Russian Standard is set to launch the Swarovski Crystal Crown Edition of its Imperia vodka brand. Starting this month, 20,000 bottles of the limited edition (available in 500-ml., 700-ml., 750-ml. and 1000-ml. sizes for unspecified prices) will be released worldwide in select hotels, restaurants, and clubs as well as in premium stores, specialized spirits boutiques and international airports. The Crystal Crown Edition is adorned with twenty-four Swarovski crystal beads on the cap that “reference the special place that hats and headwear have held in Russian society for centuries, as the height of one’s headpiece traditionally indicated one’s social status,” said Walter Kooijman, commercial director, global duty free & Asia Pacific, Russian Standard Vodka International.

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