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Exclusive: Proximo Realigns Portfolio, Names Former Diageo Exec Alex Tomlin To Management Team

March 15, 2018

Proximo Spirits has split its portfolio into two separate sales and marketing divisions, Shanken News Daily has learned. The new structure comprises a Legacy Brands unit for Proximo’s larger spirits labels and a Signature Brands division for its smaller brands. Proximo has named longtime Diageo executive Alex Tomlin as general manager of the Signature Brands unit.

Both divisions will report to Proximo president and CEO Mark Teasdale. The restructuring takes effect April 1.

In a statement, Proximo said the realignment was necessary because the company has “reached the size at which greater structure and specialization are required” in order to drive further growth. According to Impact Databank estimates, Proximo’s total U.S. portfolio has now risen to above 9.3 million cases, up from 8.4 million cases three years ago.

The Signature Brands division led by Tomlin has been given the mission to “develop, nurture and accelerate new brands,” including Maestro Dobel Tequila, Gran Centenario Tequila, Stranahan’s Rocky Mountain Single Malt whiskey, Tincup Whiskey, The Sexton Single Malt Irish Whiskey, Virginia Black Whiskey, Old Camp Whiskey, Boodles Gin, Hangar 1 Vodka, and others.

Tomlin comes to Proximo following a 23-year tenure at Diageo, where he held a series of marketing and innovation leadership positions across Asia Pacific, Latin America and North America. Most recently, he served as senior vice president of marketing for Reserve & Scotch Whisky brands at Diageo North America.

The Legacy Brands unit, which has no general manager, will include Jose Cuervo, 1800 Tequila, Three Olives Vodka, Bushmills Irish Whiskey, The Kraken Black Spiced Rum, and newly acquired Pendleton Whisky. Those labels combine for volume in excess of 6.6 million cases, excluding premixed cocktails like Jose Cuervo Authentic Margarita and Golden Margarita.

Overall, Proximo parent company Grupo Cuervo posted net sales up 2.6% to $900 million in the U.S. and Canada for 2017, as price hikes and an improved product mix offset a 4.9% decline in volume. According to Impact Databank, Jose Cuervo was down 1.5% in the U.S. last year to 3.7 million cases (although its 100%-agave Tradicional offering grew 18% to 223,000 cases), while 1800 rose 5% to 1.1 million cases, The Kraken increased 1.5% to 380,000 cases, and Bushmills slipped 2.5% to 190,000 cases.

This year, Proximo will be looking to drive renewed growth for its Legacy Brands after taking price early in 2017, while galvanizing efforts behind the craft-rich Signature Brands portfolio. One of the main opportunities will be the ongoing development of Pendleton Whisky, which was acquired from Oregon’s Hood River Distillers for $205 million in December. Pendleton recently earned an Impact “Hot Brand” award after averaging 12% annual growth the past three years to reach 280,000 cases. —Daniel Marsteller

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