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News Briefs for May 3, 2012

May 3, 2012

•In its interim statement for its fiscal third quarter (ended March 31), Diageo posted a 6% rise in organic sales and 3% organic volume increase, due in part to strong premium and super-premium brand performances in North America. For the nine months through March, the drinks giant recorded 7% organic net sales growth, with the largest advances coming from Diageo’s Latin America and Caribbean (+18%) and Africa (+12%) units. Asia Pacific—where Diageo’s Scotch whisky premiumization strategy continues to deliver double-digit growth—grew 10% overall. In North America, meanwhile, sales were up 5%—a significant improvement on last year, when reduced discounts on U.S. spirits resulted in soft volumes. But despite positive performances from markets like Germany, European sales were down 1%, as the outlook in Western Europe remained “cautious,” according to Diageo CEO Paul Walsh.

Beam Inc. saw net sales increase by 1.9% to $533.8 million during its fiscal first quarter (ended March 31), led by strong net sales growth of leading brands such as Jim Beam (+19%), Maker’s Mark (+19%) and Courvoisier (+41%). Gross profit for the quarter was up 6.9% from the year earlier to $314.7 million. Income from continuing operations was $78.4 million, up from the $61.7 million Beam reported in the first quarter of 2011. “Our organic growth strategy is proving highly effective,” CEO Matt Shattock said. “Our innovation pipeline delivered several exciting new products across categories that helped boost our sales in our seasonally smallest quarter.” In recent days, Beam agreed to acquire Pinnacle vodka—arguably the U.S market’s best-performing spirits brand—from White Rock Distilleries, in a deal that’s expected to close sometime in the second quarter.

Sidney Frank Importing Co. is launching the first-ever TV ad for Jägermeister liqueur beginning today. Running under the tagline “Stronger Bond,” the ad campaign is aimed at males between the ages of 21-29. Created by filmmaker Albert Hughes and director Alastair McKevitt, the TV spot features seven different men “whose success relies on their strong bonds with others,” Sidney Frank Importing said. The ad will air on channels such as FX, Spike, Comedy Central, ESPN, Discovery and Fox Sports through November. The campaign will also appear on select websites and outdoor advertising in key markets. Jägermeister’s U.S. volume declined 4% to 2.5 million cases last year, according to Impact Databank.

•The Boston Beer Co. reported revenues of $113.3 million in its fiscal first quarter ended March 31, up 11% from the year earlier period. Net income for the first quarter was $7.5 million, up $3.5 million from Q1 of 2011. Depletions for Boston Beer Co. grew by 10% during the period, primarily due to increases in Samuel Adams Seasonals, Twisted Tea and Angry Orchard cider. Core shipment volume reached about 536,000 barrels (+8%), and the company has projected depletion growth of between 6%-9% for the full year 2012.

•Famed Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli and his brother, Alberto, have launched two new labels: Bocelli Prosecco and Bocelli Sangiovese (both $19.99). They’re now available in New York, Texas, Illinois, Washington and Oregon and will go national by September. The duo join Bocelli In Canto (Cabernet Sauvignon), Alcide (Cabernet and Sangiovese blend) and Terre di Sando (Sangiovese). Seattle-based importer August Wine Group—which has handled the Bocelli Family Wines brand since 2006—will expand distribution into several international markets.

•Paris-based bar and lounge The Experimental Cocktail Club has unveiled its first U.S. location in New York City’s Lower East Side neighborhood. The club debuted in Paris in 2007 to tremendous success, leading to expansion into London in 2010. The Manhattan outpost’s cocktail menu, which owners Romée de Goriainoff, Olivier Bon and Pierre-Charles Cros hadn’t released at press time, features 14 specialty concoctions created by mixologist Nicolas de Soto. Beer and bar snacks are also available.

•Celebrity chef and restaurateur Michael Schlow has opened his fifth restaurant, Happy’s Bar & Kitchen, in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood. The diner-style eatery features retro décor with 1950s American memorabilia and serves traditional American comfort food with modern twists. Alcohol-based milkshakes are also available, as well as a large selection of draft beers. Chef Schlow is the owner of New England restaurants Radius, Tico, Alta Strada and Via Matta.


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