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González Byass Consolidates U.S. Portfolio, Eyes Agency Brands And Acquisitions

May 15, 2015

A subsidiary of Spain’s González Byass since 2013, Chicago-based wine importer Vin Divino is bolstering its brand roster and changing its name to González Byass USA. In the coming weeks, the new González Byass USA will finish consolidating its parent company’s import brands within its own stable, adding the Spanish group’s Soberano and Lepanto brandies, as well as Chinchon anise liqueur, all of which were previously with Anchor Distilling.

Soberano (retailing at $25-$30 a bottle), Lepanto ($55) and Chinchon ($28-$34) join the parent company’s London No. 1 gin ($35) in the González Byass USA spirits portfolio. Like the importer’s overall business—which skews 55% on-premise and 45% off-premise—the brandy and anise labels are being targeted toward the on-trade.

Overall, González Byass USA aims to reach 100,000 cases in annual volume by 2017. Its parent company’s brands—also including Tio Pepe Sherry, Beronia from Rioja, Vilarnau Cava, Somontano’s Viñas del Vero and Tierra de Castilla’s Finca Constancia—currently combine for around 35,000 cases stateside. The largest player in González Byass USA’s portfolio is an agency brand—Italy’s Farnese—that’s set to see a major U.S. investment from majority owner 21 Partners (led by Italian entrepreneur Alessandro Benetton), who gained a controlling stake in the 13-million-bottle producer in 2013.

“With the stability of González Byass, and the investment from Benetton, we’re poised for growth,” says Len Nowicki, president of González Byass USA. “We’ve also just kicked off our French portfolio this year, adding Champagne Palmer, Leon Beyer from Alsace and Domaine de l’Arjolle from Languedoc.”

Boosted by rising exports—which now account for two-thirds of sales—González Byass posted global volume up 8% for 2014, with its branded business accounting for 2.7 million cases. Chairman Mauricio González-Gordon tells SND the company intends to ramp up new product introductions looking ahead, mostly from its existing wineries, but also potentially through acquisitions. “There are some additional Spanish regions that are not in our portfolio yet but are attractive,” he says. “Ribera del Duero and Rias Biaxas for example.”

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