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News Briefs for January 11, 2012

January 11, 2012

Rémy Cointreau CEO Jean-Marie Laborde says his company is eyeing acquisitions at the high end of the global spirits market. “We’re expecting to buy if we can find the right animal—the right brands to improve our portfolio—provided they are very premium and truly international,” Laborde told Reuters. Laborde said last year that Rémy had between €500 million and €800 million ($634m–$1b) ready if the right acquisition opportunity emerges. Asked about the possibility of a bigger player such as Diageo, Pernod Ricard or Bacardi acquiring or breaking up Rémy itself, Laborde said, “It all depends on the family, which owns 57% amongst four people. What I know from them, because I see them often, is that they’re very committed to the business and have no intention of splitting up or dropping their holding below a majority stake.”

•Pernod Ricard USA is launching a Watermelon Sour Schnapps extension to its Hiram Walker liqueur brand across the U.S. in February. The 15%-abv product will be priced at $9.99 a 750-ml., with 50-ml. and 1-liter sizes also available. The release will be supported at on-premise and off-premise accounts with custom-designed point-of-sales as well as taste testing. The new extension joins a line of 39 different Hiram Walker products, including the recently launched Caramel Apple. Hiram Walker’s U.S. depletions decreased 3.1% in 2010 to 890,000 cases, according to Impact Databank.

•In an effort to curb excessive alcohol consumption, the New York City Health Department is proposing a reduction of the city’s alcohol retail outlets, including bars and corner stores, according to a report in the New York Post. Under the department’s Partnership for a Healthier New York City, the initiative would be one of several designed to target excessive drinking, including new restrictions on alcohol and bar advertising in public settings. “The [Partnership for a Healthier New York City] is intended to generate creative ideas to build on our initiatives including smoking cessation, reducing excessive drinking, promoting healthy eating and increasing physical activity,” said New York City Health Department spokesperson John Kelly. “Nothing has been decided or determined, but idea creation is an important part of our work.” Several business owners and trade groups, including the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association (ESRTA), have spoken out against the idea.

•Suntory-owned Morrison Bowmore Distillers—maker of the Auchentoshan, Bowmore and Glen Garioch single malts—has named Rachel Barrie to the newly created position of master blender, effective immediately. Barrie comes to Morrison Bowmore from Moët Hennessy’s Glenmorangie, where she held the same title. She will join the company’s operational senior executive group and report directly to Andrew Rankin, operations director and chief blender. The Morrison Bowmore malts are marketed in the U.S. by Campari America (formerly Skyy Spirits).

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