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News Briefs for November 17, 2011

November 17, 2011

•Diageo North America is preparing to launch new additions to its Captain Morgan, Jose Cuervo and Crown Royal franchises, the company’s chief marketing and innovation officer Peter McDonough told analysts in New York earlier today. McDonough didn’t provide further details, adding only that the new products will roll out during the first half of calendar year 2012.

SABMiller reported a 10% rise in revenue for the six months through September, to $15.6 billion. Reported EBITA was also up 10%, to $2.7 billion, primarily due to strong performances in emerging markets like Latin America (EBITA up 16%), Africa (up 23%) and Asia (up 29%). EBITA in both North America and Europe, however, fell 6% as higher costs and “challenging economic and market conditions” took their toll. North American sales to retailers and sales to wholesalers were down 2% and 4%, respectively, but SABMiller’s Tenth and Blake craft and import unit helped offset volume declines in the region. According to chief executive Graham Mackay, the group has “taken further steps to extend (its) global portfolio,” including September’s $10.15 billion takeover of Foster’s and last month’s partnership with Anadolu Efes, in which SABMiller sold its Russian and Ukrainian beer units to the Turkish brewer in exchange for a 24% equity stake.

•Van Gogh Vodka has signed a deal to make celebrity chef Nadia G the spokesperson for the brand. She will create signature cocktails, make appearances at events and also provide her knowledge of food and flavors to the “world of the young, dynamic women who comprise the brand’s key consumer constituency.” Van Gogh Vodka’s flavor portfolio currently features 19 different flavors, and new extensions Rich Dark Chocolate and Cool Peach are expected to launch this fall.

•Brinker International’s Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant chain has revamped its beverage menu and added a $3-$6 happy hour from 3-6pm, Monday through Friday. The extended menu features more than 40 wines by the glass, as well as new draft beer and cocktail selections. During happy hour, consumers can choose Peroni, Stella Artois, Bud Light or Newcastle Brown Ale drafts for $3, select wines by the glass for $5 and signature cocktails made with Skyy Infusion Citrus, Absolut Citron, Absolut Berry Açai, Patrón Silver, Maker’s Mark or Bacardi for $6. In addition to 44 Maggiano’s locations worldwide, Brinker also owns and operates Chili’s Grill & Bar and holds a minority investment in Romano’s Macaroni Grill.

•Tequila Avión, the ultra-premium Tequila in which Pernod Ricard took a minority stake in July, has named Sam Spencer vice president of marketing. Spencer comes to Avión from consumer products giant Unilever, where he served in various strategic marketing capacities for nine years, working on brands like Magnum Ice Cream, Axe, Suave and Dove Hair and Degree.

Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada has named David Bart as its executive vice president-general manager, effective January 1st. Bart has been with SWS Nevada for eight years, most recently serving as senior vice president, spirits. He was preceded in the evp-general manager role by John Wittig, and will report directly to SWS of Nevada senior managing director Larry Ruvo. SWS Nevada made four other key appointments concurrently, naming Matt Munn senior vice president-general sales manager for spirits, Glenn Morrison senior vice president-general sales manager for wine and Ian Staller senior vice president-chief financial officer.

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