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Albert Baladi On The Key Growth Levers For Beam Suntory

August 19, 2019

Beam Suntory is the world’s third-largest spirits marketer, with global volume up 2.3% to nearly 62 million cases last year, according to Impact Databank.

 In the first six months of this year, company sales rose by mid-single digits, driven by ongoing gains across a number of American whiskey and Tequila brands. Beam Suntory veteran Albert Baladi took over as CEO in April after previously serving as COO and president of North America. SND associate editor Shane English recently spoke with Baladi to get an update on progress and discuss Beam Suntory’s top priorities moving forward.

SND: Which whisk(e)y brands are driving Beam Suntory’s growth?

Baladi: Jim Beam’s sales are up by high single-digits, very close to double-digits actually. If you look at our other American whiskey brands like Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek, and Basil Hayden’s, they’re all growing both in depletions and in consumption, with some of them at strong double-digits. From Japan, our Toki brand from the House of Suntory launched two and a half years ago in the U.S. at a $35-$40 price point, and it’s now broken 100,000 cases. We’re also seeing great results in Scotch, specifically with Laphroaig. And our newest brand, Legent, while still small, is doing very well so far in the cities where we’ve launched it.

SND: What new developments are you tracking in hot categories like Tequila and Cognac?

Baladi: In the U.S., Hornitos Tequila continues to be very strong, growing by double-digits. We also relaunched the El Tesoro brand a year ago with new packaging, targeting the super-premium segment. It’s a craft Tequila in the $40 price range and growing at very strong double-digits off a small base. El Tesoro is helping us to participate a lot more than we did previously in the super-premium Tequila space. In Cognac, Courvoisier has been strong for us. It’s a brand that we’re premiumizing. We’ve taken price this year and continued to see the brand grow by double-digits in the U.S.

SND: Looking forward, where do you see untapped opportunity for Beam Suntory globally?

Baladi: We believe very much that Bourbon can become the world’s whiskey. We’re seeing Jim Beam do really well in places like China and India. It’s off a small base, but we’re building it steadily. Those are our two big bets on a global basis, but markets like Russia, Mexico, Brazil, and Poland are also performing strongly. In China, Courvoisier is doing incredibly well, along with Jim Beam. We’re a small player there, but we’re delivering very strong double-digit growth, and it’s all driven by our premiumization efforts. In India, we’re having success with Teacher’s. It’s among the top three Scotch brands in the country, and growing at double-digit rates. In Mexico, we’re seeing great growth from our American whiskies, but also our Tequila portfolio. And Russia is a market where Bourbon has been growing steadily for a few years now, with Courvoisier now contributing as well.

Beam Suntory―Top 10 Premium-Plus Brands In The U.S.1
(thousands of 9-liter case depletions)
Rank Brand Origin/Type 2017 2018 Percent
Change5
1 Jim Beam2 Bourbon/Rye 4,892 5,266 7.6%
2 Maker’s Mark3 Bourbon 1,616 1,758 8.8%
3 Hornitos Tequila 810 1,002 23.7%
4 Courvoisier Cognac 489 533 8.9%
5 Knob Creek2 Bourbon/Rye 410 444 8.3%
6 Sauza Blue Tequila 339 381 12.2%
7 Basil Hayden’s Bourbon/Rye 181 253 39.5%
8 Effen Imported Vodka 209 214 2.7%
9 Salignac Cognac 149 169 13.7%
10 100 Años Tequila 77 99 28.7%
Total Top Ten4 9,172 10,118 10.3%
1 at least $15 per 750-ml on average
2 includes flavors
3 includes Makers 46 and Mint Julep
4 addition of columns may not agree due to rounding
5 based on unrounded data

Source: IMPACT DATABANK

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