Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

News Briefs for November 25, 2013

November 25, 2013

•Diageo has partnered with Brooks Brothers on a joint holiday initiative featuring Johnnie Walker.The partnership includes release of a limited edition Brooks Brothers 1818 Johnnie Walker Blue Label bottle that retails at $249 and celebrates the year of Brooks Brothers’ founding. 1,818 individually numbered bottles were made. Other offerings include a silk Brooks Brothers limited edition tie featuring Johnnie Walker’s Striding Man ($75) and, for $10,000, the Johnnie Walker Brooks Brothers Experience, the centerpiece of which is an at-home Scotch tasting led by a Johnnie Walker Master of Whisky.

•Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos. has won court approval for its proposed acquisition of about 150 Fresh & Easy stores. U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin Carey approved the deal, in which Fresh & Easy founder Tesco will loan Yucaipa $120 million to make the acquisition. Former 7-Eleven CEO James Keyes will lead Yucaipa’s rejuvenation strategy for Fresh & Easy. Analysts say that Burkle’s successful work on the Fred Meyer, Jurgensen’s and Ralphs chains in the past suggests he may also be able to find value in Fresh & Easy as well. Tesco launched the grocery chain in 2007, and is said to have invested as much as $1.5 billion, but the concept never became profitable.

•Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group says it’s exploring strategic alternatives for its TGI Fridays restaurant chain, including a possible divestiture. “Capitalizing on Fridays’ strong marketplace momentum, the board has determined that this is the optimum time to assess its options for the iconic restaurant brand, including a possible sale,” said Trudy Rautio, president and CEO of Carlson, in a statement. The company said that TGI Fridays, which has 900 locations across 60 countries, has performed strongly in the U.S. lately, and is also expanding in China. Carlson’s board has enlisted Piper Jaffray as its financial adviser during the review.

•Curious Cork Imports has hired former Purple Wine Co. executive Peter Baedeker as its new CEO. Baedeker comes to the Denver-based Curious Cork with nearly two decades of drinks industry experience, including his most recent posting as Purple Wine’s managing director of international business. He will be based at Curious Cork’s new Napa Valley office. Curious Cork imports around 20 wine brands, and also has several proprietary offerings, including the recently introduced Tuscan Sun.

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