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Exclusive: A Talk With Campari America’s New Managing Director, Ugo Fiorenzo

July 15, 2015

This morning, Campari America announced that it has filled the managing director post formerly held by Roy Danis, appointing Gruppo Campari veteran Ugo Fiorenzo head of its U.S. business. Reporting to Gruppo Campari’s North America managing director Jean-Jacques Dubau, Fiorenzo has been with the Italian company for nearly a decade, most recently as senior market director of J. Wray & Nephew in Jamaica. In this exclusive interview with SND senior editor Daniel Marsteller, Fiorenzo discusses the challenges and opportunities ahead for Campari’s U.S. unit, which accounts for just over 20% of the parent group’s $1.7 billion in annual sales.

SND: Where do you see room for growth in the Campari America portfolio?

Fiorenzo: Right now, our Italian brands Campari, Aperol, Frangelico, Cynar, Cinzano and the recently added Averna and Braulio are red hot. Campari is growing by double-digits and heading for 100,000 cases. That would have been inconceivable just five years ago. In Bourbon, we’re very well positioned with Wild Turkey and our hidden gem Russell’s Reserve, and we’re looking to expand their strategic role in our portfolio moving forward. Skyy is of course our juggernaut in the U.S., and we never lose sight of that. Our strategy around flavors—focusing only on fresh fruit infusions, rather than confectionary, sugary flavors—has paid off, and the core unflavored vodka is also very robust right now, thanks to consumers focusing on smart value and quality for money. Espolón Tequila and Appleton Estate also have strong growth numbers and a great deal of upside potential.

SND: What are your goals for further developing the Campari America organization?

Fiorenzo: One of my top goals right out of the gate is to curate a culture where we inspire the industry and actually push it forward. That’s a lofty goal for a company that isn’t number-one or number-two in the market, but I think it’s possible. We have the right brands, the right strategies and the right people to reach it. Though we aren’t the biggest, it’s clearly evident where we can win. Our brand portfolio is primed to perform in the on-premise, where brand equity can truly be nurtured. You’ll see us focusing even more of our brand-building efforts in this area. Key to that will be innovations that help us grow our on-premise business, as well as advancements in our digital strategy to create even more consumer awareness and pull.

SND: How does your international background inform your approach in the U.S.?

Fiorenzo: I have spent the majority of my career with Campari in Europe, where we’re a very mature company operating in very mature markets. Here in the U.S. we’re just scratching the surface on all the opportunities that exist to build brands and grow our business. It used to be that Skyy was the primary focus, surrounded by a few odd-at-the-time Italian brands and a slew of agency brands. How times have changed. Now, we control our own destiny by owning the great majority of our brands, and we have something across every single major category except Cognac.

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