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News Briefs for November 4, 2011

November 4, 2011

•Online daily deal giant Groupon Inc. began trading on the Nasdaq today under the symbol GRPN. The stock opened at $20 a share and was up by roughly $8, or 40%, in midday trading. Prior to setting its opening price, the company had increased its share offering from 5 million shares to 35 million, selling above the original estimates of $16 to $18 a share. As a result, Groupon’s IPO was valued at around $13 billion at the launch, ranking it among the largest Internet IPOs since Google’s $1.7 billion offering in 2004. Groupon’s initial filing in June came under fire for containing misleading figures. The company was forced to revise its accounting methods, which lowered annual earnings to $688 million from its initial filing of $1.5 billion.

•Fine wine and food deal site Lot18 has received $30 million in new financing. Led by venture capital firm Accel Partners and supplemented by previous backers New Enterprise Associates and FirstMark Capital, it’s the third round of funding in a year for Lot18. The company raised $3 million last November and $10 million in May. Launched in 2010, New York City-based Lot18 offers fine wine, gourmet food, local restaurant deals and wine- and gourmet-themed travel excursions to more than 500,000 members. The company claims to have had 12 consecutive months of growth in gross merchandise volume and sales of more than 500,000 bottles of wine since its inception.

•In December, The Macallan will release the latest in the Lalique Six Pillars Collection, a series of collaborations between the Scotch whisky producer and the French crystal house. The Curiously Small Stills decanter contains 60-year-old Macallan single malt Scotch ($20,000 a bottle) and highlights the unusually small, uniquely shaped copper stills that are produce The Macallan. This release is the fourth in the series, with the previous three focused on one of The Macallan’s founding Six Pillars: Natural Colour, Finest Cut and Exceptional Oak Casks. Spiritual Home and Peerless Spirit have yet to be featured. The Lalique decanter mimics the shape of the still. Only 400 bottles are available worldwide, with 72 bottles coming to the United States.

•Bill Deutsch, chairman of W. J. Deutsch & Sons, has been granted the prestigious Commandeur of the Ordre National du Merite Agricole by the French government. The Ordre National du Merite Agricole—which recognizes service to French agriculture—awarded Deutsch the title of Chevalier in 1986 and Officier in 1992. French wines in the W.J. Deutsch & Sons portfolio include Georges Duboeuf, Andre Lurton, Hob Nob Vineyards, Patch Block, Pierre Sparr, Sauvion et Fils and Vidal Fleury.

•O’Charley’s Inc., which owns and operates the O’Charley’s, Ninety Nine Restaurants and Stoney River Legendary Steaks brands, reported a narrowed loss in its third quarter ended October 2, with a net loss of $4 million compared with $7.4 million over the same period last year. At both the 105-unit Ninety Nine Restaurants and 10-unit Stoney River Legendary Steaks, same-store sales and guest counts rose in the third quarter, along with slight increases in average check prices. Same-stores sales at the 227-unit O’Charley’s decreased slightly, but the company reports that the chain’s 4.5% decline in guest counts was partially offset by a 3.8% increase in the average check price. The company anticipates fourth quarter total revenues to be between $177 million and $182 million.

•Glazer’s, Inc. has completed its acquisition of San Antonio’s Halo Distributing, a dealoriginally reported by Shanken News Daily in August. Halo is a 6.5-million-case malt beverage distributor servicing over 3,500 retail outlets in the San Antonio market. One of Texas’s top MillerCoors distributors, Halo also handles brands from Heineken USA, Diageo Guinness USA and New Belgium.

•The William K. Busch Brewing Company, started in St. Louis this summer by William K. Busch, grandson of Adolphus Busch, is launching two new beer brands—All-Malt Kraftig Lager and Kraftig Light—in the St. Louis metropolitan area starting November 7. For now, the brands will be brewed at the City Brewing Co. facility in La Crosse, Wisconsin, under the supervision of Marc Gottfried, vp of brewing for William K. Busch Brewing Company. The company plans to build a brewery in downtown St. Louis with annual capacity in the millions of barrels. Long range plans call for expanding the brands to markets across the United States.


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