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

News Briefs for July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014

•Molson Coors Brewing Company has named Mark Hunter, a 25-year industry veteran, as president and CEO of the company, effective upon Peter Swinburn’s retirement from the chief executive post at the end of the year. With 40 years in the beer business, Swinburn has served as CEO of Molson Coors since 2008 and will retire from the board of directors as well, effective December 31. During his tenure, Swinburn oversaw transitions such as the formation of the MillerCoors joint venture in the U.S. and the acquisition of StarBev in Europe. Hunter has served as head of Molson Coors’ European branch since January 2013 and was previously CEO and president of its Central Europe region.

•French drinks group La Martiniquaise has opened a new state-of-the-art winery for its Porto Cruz Port brand. Based in Alijo, Portugal, the completed facility has an annual production capacity of 6 million liters, as well as a bulk storage capacity of 20 million liters. According to La Martiniquaise group international marketing director Sylvia Bernard, the investment underscores the group’s “commitment to develop the sales of Port and to expand the positions of Porto Cruz worldwide.” Porto Cruz, which sells around 6 million liters across 50 countries, is produced by Gran Cruz, one of the world’s largest Port producers.

•Vermont Hard Cider’s Woodchuck brand is set to release a trio of ciders, including Hopsation, a new core year-round offering. Rolling out in August, Hopsation features Woodchuck’s original cider and an infusion of Cascade hops, and will be available nationwide in six-packs and on draft. The year-round entry marks Woodchuck’s first core brand extension since 2011. Concurrently, Woodchuck will also launch Sour Cherry Cider, the latest entry in its limited edition Cellar Series, as well as reintroduce Fall Harvest Seasonal Cider. Sour Cherry will be available in 22-ounce bottles through September, while Fall Harvest, which features notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and white oak, will be offered in six-packs and on draft through October.

•Discount retailer Dollar Tree Inc. announced it would acquire rival Family Dollar Stores Inc. for about $8.5 billion, Reuters reports. The purchase will create North America’s biggest discount store chain and will extend Dollar Tree’s reach to lower-income consumers, a group that largely makes up Family Dollar Stores’ customer base. The offer has been approved by Family Dollar’s board, and it will increase Dollar Tree’s presence to about 13,000 stores across the U.S. and Canada once the deal closes. Dollar Tree said it received bridge financing from JP Morgan Chase Bank NA and will also finance the purchase with existing cash and bonds. The $74.50 per share Dollar Tree offered represents a 23% premium over Family Dollar’s close of $60.66 on Friday. Discount stores have been ramping up their beverage alcohol activity in recent years.

•Vera Trinchero Torres, part of the founding family of Trinchero Family Estates, passed away July 22 at the age of 76. Torres was born in New York City but relocated to St. Helena, California in 1948 when her family bought the Sutter Home Winery. After joining the family business, she and her brothers Bob and Roger worked to build Sutter Home into one of the top-selling premium varietal wine brands in the U.S. In addition to her business pursuits, Torres was also known as a generous philanthropist, particularly in the fight against breast cancer, of which she was a survivor. Torres is survived by her sons Tony Torres, Trinchero principal and SVP administration, and Bob Torres, principal and SVP operations; her brothers Bob Trinchero, principal and chairman, and Roger Trinchero, principal and CEO; and her four grandchildren Laina, Michael, Mathew, and Julia.

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