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News Briefs for September 23, 2011

September 23, 2011

•Diageo CEO Paul Walsh told Bloomberg News today the drinks giant is on the lookout for further acquisitions in emerging markets like China and is open to listing its shares in Asia if the opportunity presents. “The priority is to grow what we already own, but if we see the opportunity, we will acquire,” Walsh said, asserting confidence that Diageo’s Asian business will continue to expand even if economic difficulties persist in the West. Diageo has already made several emerging market investments this year, including the purchase of Turkey’s Mey Içki for $2.1 billion, a 30% stake in Vietnam’s Halico for over $52 million and a play for full control of China’s ShuiJingFang (which is still proceeding through regulatory channels but could potentially run to $1 billion if all shareholders accept the offer). The group has been more aggressive than global competitors such as Pernod Ricard in targeting the Chinese white spirits market in which ShuiJingFang plays. That category, at 500 million cases and $39 billion annually, represents more than half of China’s total beverage alcohol market and one-third of drinks industry sales across the Asia-Pacific region.

•Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Corp. has initiated an Asia-Pacific expansion with the groundbreaking of Caesars Palace Longmu Bay, a ¥3 billion ($46m) luxury resort located in Hainan, China. Built in partnership with a subsidiary of state-owned investment entity Jiangsu Guoxin Investment Group Limited, the 1,000-room hotel is expected to open in 2014. Building on the Longmu Bay outpost, Caesars plans to introduce a total of 25 hotels and resorts in China over the next five years. The group’s non-gaming division Caesars Global Life, which aims to develop and manage branded luxury hotels, resorts, residences, villas, retail and entertainment destinations around the world, is spearheading the expansion.

•Discount retailer Dollar General continues to expand beer sales across many of its 9,600 U.S. locations, securing permits to sell beer at 50 of its stores across Arkansas this week, reports Arkansas News. Dollar General’s beer retailing operations have now spread to 12 states. The group’s top markets include Texas (more than 1,000 units), Florida and Ohio (more than 500 units each). Dollar General’s aggressive expansion into beer has mirrored similar moves by drugstores Walgreen’s, CVS and Rite Aid.

•Sonoma County-based J Vineyards & Winery is launching a non-vintage Brut Rosé sparkling wine in the U.S., coinciding with its 25th anniversary. It will be packaged in a new clear bottle that features a black version of the brand’s brushstroke J logo. The limited production Brut Rosé is made of 100% Russian River Valley grapes—64% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay and 2% Pinot Meunier—and priced at $28 a 750-ml. J Vineyards’ portfolio also includes non-vintage Brut, Vintage Brut, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris offerings.

•Germany’s Mast-Jägermeister and its U.S. importer Sidney Frank Importing Co. have named Venice Beach, California advertising agency Mistress as Jägermeister’s U.S. agency of record. The companies are collaborating to create a “complete 360-degree integrated advertising campaign,” to be unveiled next year. The appointment was made in line with Sidney Frank Importing’s goal of building the brand to 3 million case depletions in the U.S. Known for its aggressive on-premise promotional initiatives, Jägermeister hit 2.88 million cases in U.S. sales in 2008 after years of explosive growth, but slid 6.3% by volume the following year as the recession depressed the on-premise market. In 2010 the brand held steady at 2.7 million cases, according to Impact Databank.

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