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News Briefs for November 26, 2013

November 26, 2013

Rémy Cointreau reported a 3.6% organic decline in net sales to €558 million ($756m) for the six months through September, its fiscal first half, as strong progress in the U.S. and Europe failed to offset the continuing sluggish conditions in China. Rémy Martin Cognac saw sales fall 10.4% to €327 million ($443m) during the period, despite growing in the Americas and Europe. Rémy said “the temporary slowdown in sales momentum in China” would not constrain its strategic investment in the region on its core brand. Amongst Rémy’s other operating divisions, its Liqueurs & Spirits unit was up 10% to €120 million ($163m) as Cointreau grew in the U.S. and single malt Bruichladdich continued to expand distribution. Company-wide, operating profit slipped 7% to €133 million ($180m).

•Anheuser-Busch InBev is planning to expand its presence in the cider segment with the launch of a new brand, Johnny Appleseed, next year. In a memo to distributors, ABI said the new entry would see “significant marketing support.” The planned move follows ABI’s recent debuts of Stella Artois Cidre and Michelob Ultra Light Cider. U.S. cider volume has more than doubled to 9.6 million (2.25-gallon) cases since 2010, according to Impact Databank.

•Jean Banchet, the French chef whose Le Francais restaurant in suburban Chicago was perennially ranked one of the best places to eat in America in the 1970s and 1980s, died Sunday at his Florida home at the age of 72. His widow, Doris, said he had been diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer less than a month ago. His passing came just three weeks after the death of the chef who succeeded him as the top toque in Chicago, Charlie Trotter, whose death on November 5 at the age of 54 was ruled a stroke by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office yesterday. Banchet opened Le Francais in 1973 and ran it in a grand and opulent style until 1989, when he left for Atlanta to run more casual bistros. He returned to the restaurant a decade later, but retired in 2001 at age of 60. He spent the years after that working part-time as a consultant to major hospitality brands such as Ritz-Carlton and living in Florida.

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