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News Briefs for December 1, 2011

December 1, 2011

•The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments today in the ongoing legal battle between Beam Inc and Diageo related to the dripping red wax seals on Beam’s Maker’s Mark and Diageo NA’s Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia brands respectively. Beam won an injunction in May of 2010 in U.S. District Court prohibiting Diageo and any others from using the dripping red wax seal, which the court decided was effectively a trademark. Beam originally sued Diageo NA and Casa Cuervo over the seal in 2003. The Court of Appeals hasn’t set a timeline for a decision in the case.

•Treasury Wine Estates has promoted Michelle Terry to managing director of Lindeman’s wine brand, effective immediately. She will report directly to Treasury CEO David Dearie. Terry served most recently as global brand director for Wolf Blass wine and global marketing manager for Lindeman’s. The appointment comes as part of the company’s reorganization to a brand-centric structure after the demerger from Foster’s Group in May. Other key appointments already made at Treasury include Stephen Brauer as managing director of Beringer, Simon Marton as managing director of Wolf Blass, Angus McPherson as managing director of Rosemount and Stuart McNab as chief supply officer.

•Champagne house Laurent-Perrier announced a solid increase in net profit to €9.59 million ($12.9m) for the six months ended September 30, compared to €3 million ($4m) in first-half 2010. The group’s operating profit, meanwhile, doubled from €9.9 million ($13.3m) to €19.9 million ($26.8m). Bolstered by strong demand from export markets such as the U.S. and Japan, sales volumes rose 5.8%, with net sales totaling €92 million ($124m)—a 13.3% increase on the same period last year.

•German wine cooperatives Deutsches Weintor and Niederkirchener Weinmacher have received shareholder approval to complete their merger. The new company, Deutsches Weintor eG, will have annual turnover of €35 million ($50.4m), and the scale to target key global markets, with the U.S. representing the top priority, the companies said. The two co-ops were already collaborating on bottling, supply-chain and IT functions. Niederkirchener produces the Blue Fish brand, imported in the U.S. by Palm Bay International, which sells around 50,000 cases annually in the U.S. Marian Kopp, managing director of Niederkirchener Weinmacher, and Jürgen Grallath, executive board member of Deutsches Weintor will comprise the merged company’s executive board, along with Frank Jentzer.

•ASC Fine Wines, one of China’s leading wine importers, is adding Tuscany’s Tenuta dell’Ornellaia to its portfolio January 1st. The deal will see ASC handle the DOC Bolgheri winery’s Le Volte dell’Ornellaia, Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia and Ornellaia wines across the mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau markets. A subsidiary of Japan’s Suntory, ASC is also exclusive importer to China for Treasury Wine Estates brands including Beringer, Penfolds and Wolf Blass, as well as DBR (Lafite) from Bordeaux, Champagnes Ayala and Bollinger and California’s Caymus, among other brands.

•Brown-Forman is launching a global holiday ad campaign today for its Jack Daniel’s brand under the tagline “It’s not what’s under the tree that matters, it’s who’s around it.” Developed by Arnold Worldwide agency in Boston, the ads feature the community of Lynchburg, Tennessee (home of the Jack Daniel’s distillery) creating the “Barrel Tree”—a 26-foot tall tree made of Jack Daniel’s whiskey barrels. The campaign, which will appear in several international markets including the U.S., the U.K., Ireland and South Africa, will roll out across television, online, outdoor and print platforms. Budget for the campaign is estimated at $10 million, according to the New York Times.

•The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI), a monthly review that tracks the health and outlook of the U.S. restaurant industry, remained essentially unchanged in October compared to September, down just 0.1% to 100.0. Despite relatively weaker sales figures in October over September, restaurants posted net positive same-store sales for the fifth consecutive month. While the RPI’s Current Situation Index stood at 99.5 in October, down 0.6% from September, the Expectations Index was at a four-month high of 100.5, up 0.4% from September, representing a positive six-month outlook among restaurant operators.

•Foster’s Group shareholders have approved SABMiller’s A$9.9 billion ($10.2b) takeover of the company. The deal, which required 75% of Foster’s shareholder votes for passage, received a 99% affirmative vote. Foster’s management originally accepted SABMiller’s bid in September, just four months after rejecting the company’s initial A$9.5 billion ($9.75b) offer. SABMiller has received approval of the deal from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, as well as the country’s Foreign Investment Review Board, which stipulated that Foster’s operations and management must remain in Australia. Foster’s is Australia’s leading brewer, with a volume share of around 50% and ownership of seven of the market’s top 10 beer brands.

•Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) has agreed to buy back Oregon distributor Western Beverage Co. from Missouri-based drinks wholesaler Major Brands, which bought it from ABI three years ago, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The agreement is expected to see ABI take over Western—and its annual beer volume of roughly 6.5 million cases—within two months. Major Brands said it will continue with its other beer wholesaling activities—where brands include Schlafly, New Belgium, Heineken and Stone beers—alongside its more sizeable wine and spirits distribution business, which is Missouri’s largest.


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