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

News Briefs for November 2, 2011

November 2, 2011

MillerCoors, the U.S. joint venture between SABMiller and Molson Coors, reported a decrease in net income of 14.1% in the third quarter ending September 30 to $286.9 million. Net sales for the company were also down 2.5% to $1.965 billion versus the third quarter of 2010. The company said the weak economy, commodity inflation and low consumer spending were still holding down the mainstream beer market. According to SymphonyIRI Group, which tracks sales in food, drug and convenience stores, MillerCoors’s U.S. volume was down 1.9% to 270 million (2.25-gallon) cases in calendar 2011 through October 2, while dollar sales were up 0.1% to $4.9 billion.

•John Palatella, who left Patrón Spirits Co. last spring to become an executive vice president with Glazer’s Distributors, has returned to the supplier side. Palatella has joined Russian Standard USA as executive vice president of sales & distribution. He will report directly to Leonid Yangarber, CEO of Russian Standard Vodka Americas. As Patrón’s executive vice president of sales for North America, Palatella helped build the company’s flagship Tequila brand into one of the U.S. spirits market’s biggest money-makers. Prior to joining Patrón, he also held sales leadership roles within Southern Wine and Spirits of California, Sidney Frank and Bohemian Distributing.

OpenTable, Inc. posted net revenues of $34.4 million in its third quarter ended September 30, up more than 40% from the year-earlier period. In North America, revenues increased 26% to $29.1 million while seated diners reached 21.8 million, a 42% increase over Q3 2010. Internationally, revenues totaled $5.3 million and the number of seated diners increased 233% to 1.8 million over Q3 in 2010.

•Belvedere is extending the Sobieski vodka line in the U.S. with three new flavors: Espresso, Cynamon and Bizon Grass. Available nationwide starting this month, the variants will be priced at $10.99 a 750-ml. Bizon Grass, an herb-flavored extension, is available in limited supply. The three new products will be imported and marketed by Imperial Brands and join a flavor portfolio that includes Orange, Karamel, Raspberry, Cytron and Vanilia. Sobieski has become one of the U.S. spirits market’s hottest brands in recent years, seeing a 43.7% increase in volume in 2010 to 740,000 nine-liter cases, according to Impact Databank.

•Napa Valley’s Blackbird Vineyards and Mendoza, Argentina-based The Vines of Mendoza have partnered to launch a new super-premium wine brand—Recuerdo Wines. The inaugural 2010 vintage includes a Malbec ($22 a 750-ml) and Torrontes ($15) from Argentina’s Uco Valley, made by consulting winemaker Santiago Achaval. Unveiled at the recent Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, the wines are being launched into select markets globally and in the U.S.

•Nashville, long renowned for its bustling country music scene and honky-tonk bars, has become a restaurant boomtown, according to a recent report in The Tennessean. The city has seen the opening of 40 new restaurants in the last six months and is gaining a reputation as an up-and-coming culinary destination. Greg Adkins, CEO of Tennessee Hospitality Association, attributes the growth to the opening of a new downtown convention center that has spurred economic growth. Another factor is Nashville’s lower rents compared to a few years ago, according to Nashville restaurant investor Jimbo Cook. Eighty percent of Nashville’s new restaurants are locally owned, according to the report. While some are fresh concepts, others are established local players expanding into new areas of the city.

•Texas Roadhouse, Inc. announced better-than-expected financial results for its third quarter ended September 27. Comparable restaurant sales were up 4% this quarter at company restaurants and 3.7% at franchise restaurants. In addition, the company’s diluted earnings per share rose 15% to $0.22 from $0.19 over the same period last year, and the company repurchased 1,503,400 shares of its common stock for $21.2 million. Since the start of this year, Texas Roadhouse has opened 10 company-owned restaurants and one franchise restaurant, with 10 more company-owned restaurant openings planned for the rest of this year and a further 25 units planned for 2012.

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