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News Briefs for July 27, 2012

July 27, 2012

•Dominique Hériard Dubreuil will step down as chairman of Rémy Cointreau by the end of 2012. She has recommended to the company’s board that her brother, François Hériard Dubreuil, be named as her replacement. Dominique has been Rémy’s chairman since 1998, when she took over from her father. She’s credited with turning around the faltering performance of the company, acquiring Bols Royal Distilleries of the Netherlands to reduce Rémy Cointreau’s reliance on Cognac and establishing the Maxxium global distribution joint venture with Scotland’s Highland Distillers and Jim Beam Brands in 1999. Rémy Cointreau, which reported 24.4% organic sales growth to €271.6 million ($332.4m) in its fiscal first quarter ended June 30, recently announced that it would acquire Islay single malt Scotch whisky Bruichladdich for £58 million ($89.9m).

•Wine auction house Acker Merrall & Condit reported sales of $46 million for the first half of 2012. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti remained the company’s top brand, representing less than 3% of the company’s overall lots this season but making up 15.5% of total sales value. Acker also reported a narrowing gap between its Asia and U.S. businesses so far this year—its Asia sales hit $68 million against $41 million in the U.S. in 2011, but in the first half of 2012, its U.S. sales ($21 million) nearly matched those in Asia ($25 million). Acker said the growth of Chicago (which Acker entered through the purchase of boutique auction house Edward Roberts last year) as a live auction market has helped buttress its U.S. business. The company’s fall season will start with an auction September 8 in New York.

William Grant & Sons has added a new super-premium mezcal, Montelobos, to its portfolio. The new offering was unveiled this week at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. Montelobos is a 100%-organic agave espadin mezcal, and is produced by the makers of fellow William Grant-marketed brand Milagro Tequila. According to Caspar MacRae, vice president of brand marketing for William Grant, both Montelobos and its recently launched portfoliomate Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch Whisky “are aptly positioned to revolutionize their respective categories” in the U.S. Monkey Shoulder ($30 a bottle), which contains the Balvenie, Glenfiddich and Kininvie malts, has already generated significant U.S. buzz since its launch earlier this year, becoming one of the most requested Scotch blends at Chicago’s Binny’s Beverage Depot’s Whiskey Hotline, for example.

•Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill, a contemporary but casual restaurant and beer bar, will open late this year in Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, marking the celebrity chef’s second concept in Las Vegas. The 290-seat English-pub-themed restaurant, to be located adjacent to Caesars’ Colosseum, will replace Bradley Ogden restaurant. Ramsay—who first made his mark in London at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and who is now involved in a string of acclaimed eateries around the world—opened Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas in May. The Fat Cow in Los Angeles, another U.S. concept from Ramsay, host of the reality program “Hell’s Kitchen,”will also open later this year. Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill will feature a wide selection of craft beers from around the world among its 40 beers on tap. Beer-focused concepts appear to be the latest emerging trend in Las Vegas, where Public House at the Venetian opened on New Year’s Day. Other beer-reliant venues reportedly in the works in Vegas include an outpost of the East Coast’s Public House chain at Luxor, unrelated to the Venetian location, and Culinary Dropout at Hard Rock Hotel.

•Heineken USA has named Colin Westcott-Pitt vice president of marketing for its flagship lager brand. Most recently, Westcott-Pitt served as vice president of marketing for Dos Equis, Amstel Light and Newcastle Brown Ale. Under his leadership, the Dos Equis brand continued its double-digit growth, and both Newcastle and Amstel Light debuted new breakthrough marketing campaigns, the company said. In his new role, Westcott-Pitt will lead marketing for a Heineken brand that has seen improved fortunes in the U.S. this year, following a 2007-2011 period in which it declined 16% to 4.2 million barrels.

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