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

News Briefs for October 23, 2015

October 23, 2015

•Louisville, Kentucky’s Copper & Kings American Brandy Company has entered two key East Coast markets for the first time. Copper & Kings has partnered with Empire Merchants to launch in New York, while linking with Ledroit Brands in Washington D.C. The move brings the company’s distribution territory up to 20 states. Meanwhile, the company has realigned its wholesaler footprint in Wisconsin, appointing Capitol-Husting to handle its line statewide. Copper & Kings’ portfolio includes Craft Distilled Brandy (45% abv, $35), Butchertown Brandy (62% abv, $60), Immature Brandy (45% abv, $30), Craft Distilled Apple Brandy (50% abv, $45), Un-Aged Apple Brandy (45% abv, $30) and Absinthe Blanche (65% abv, $55).

•U.S. grocery chain Fresh & Easy has announced plans to close its remaining 97 stores located throughout California, Arizona and Nevada. According to SF Gate, the troubled California-based retailer has failed to find the necessary financing and liquidity to continue operations, and is expected to lay off around 3,000 employees. Fresh & Easy, which was launched by the U.K.’s Tesco PLC in 2007 and acquired by Yucaipa Cos. in 2013, previously operated nearly 200 stores across its three-state footprint.

•ROK Drinks has acquired Jackson, California-based Amador Distillery for an undisclosed sum. Amador Distillery, which produces the Engine 49 range of vodka, rum, gin, Bourbon and rye whiskey entries, joins Bogart’s English gin and UB Irish whiskey in ROK Drinks’ existing spirits stable. ROK says it plans to add new vodka and rye whiskey brands to its roster in the coming months. ROK Drinks is the beverage division of consumer products group ROK Stars PLC, led by Patrón Tequila co-founder John Paul DeJoria and entrepreneur Jonathan Kendrick.

•Control state spirits volume registered 7.5% growth in September despite a strong comparable period a year earlier. That performance helped pull spirits’ control state increase to 2.8% year-to-date, compared with a 2.1% rise during the same period last year. Progress was solid on the value side as well, as spirits’ control state shelf dollars jumped 10% in September and 5.7% for the latest rolling 12-month period. Meanwhile, control state wine volume advanced 5.2% in September and 1.4% over the last 12 months.

•On-premise traffic remained weak in September, according to GuestMetrics, but the 1.4% decline for the four weeks ending October 4 was actually better than the year-to-date trend (-1.5%). On-premise beer and wine volumes both fell by nearly 6% over the four-week period, while spirits fared better, with a 0.3% drop.

•Riboli Family Wine Estates, importer of Impact “Hot Brand” Stella Rosa, has named Rick Weir as national chain key account manager. Weir will focus primarily on developing Riboli’s business with the Kroger grocery chain. A 40-year grocery industry veteran, Weir previously held marketing roles with the Alpha Beta supermarket chain, serving throughout the company’s mergers with Ralphs and Food 4 Less.

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