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Taking Control Of Avión, Pernod Will Look To Bolster Its Already-Torrid Growth

July 11, 2014

With last night’s announcement that it has acquired a significant majority stake in super-premium Tequila brand Avión, Pernod Ricard USA is now the latest major spirits player to fortify its presence in the upscale Tequila segment, following a series of industry deals in the category this year.

According to Impact Databank, Avión rose 93% to 52,000 cases in 2013, and Pernod Ricard USA president and CEO Bryan Fry tells SND that progress is continuing this year. “Avión’s growth rates are at a level we’ve never experienced before in regard to a super-premium brand—very strong double-digits,” Fry says. The exact stake and purchase price were undisclosed, but reports indicate Pernod paid under $100 million to raise its interest in the brand from a 20% share to a stake of 84%.

Fry adds that while silver Tequila tends to lead the way at Avión’s price point of $40-$60, the brand is also seeing “good gains and good penetration with the Reposado and Añejo, and we’ve had a great response to the Reserva 44, which is the ultra-premium $150-a-bottle expression,” unveiled late last year. The line will be expanding with some upcoming innovations, he also noted, declining to provide details.

Pernod’s move to gain control of Avión—founded in 2009 by entrepreneur Ken Austin, who will remain involved in the business—follows a spate of recent deal-making activity in super- and ultra-premium Tequila. In January, Diageo added two upscale Tequila brands with acquisitions of Peligroso ($30-$55) and DeLéon ($120-$1,000). That same month, Beam Suntory teamed with entertainer Justin Timberlake on a new Sauza 901 Tequila positioned at $30. Then, in March, SND reported that Sidney Frank Importing Co. had won exclusive import rights to Casamigos ($45-$50), the high-end Tequila brand owned by actor George Clooney, nightlife entrepreneur Rande Gerber and real estate mogul Mike Meldman. With Pernod now also muscling further into the category, competition is primed to heat up.

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