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Campari Ekes Out U.S. Sales Gain, Acquires Lallier Champagne Brand

May 5, 2020

Campari Group posted a 1.1% increase in sales in the U.S. market in the first quarter, led by the Espolòn, Aperol, Campari, and Skyy brands. Globally, sales declined 5.3% on an organic basis to €360 million ($391m), with adjusted EBIT falling 35% to €48 million ($52m) owing to the difficult conditions and a tough comparison against the same period a year ago.

The company said “performance for the current year remains uncertain and difficult to be assessed” in light of the Covid-19 crisis, but it’s expecting business to be “more impacted in the second quarter and the beginning of the third, the peak season for the high margin and on-premise skewed aperitif business,” with the negative impact lessening over the remainder of the year.

Campari’s U.S. business continued to be driven by Espolòn Tequila in the first quarter, with the brand enjoying strong double-digit gains in IRI channels after soaring 30% to 510,000 cases last year, according to Impact Databank. The Aperol and Campari brands also continued to make gains in the U.S., and Skyy vodka benefited from the turn to the off-premise. Skyy was down 3.6% to 2.4 million cases in the U.S. last year, while Aperol jumped 50.6% to 241,000 cases, up from 67,000 cases in 2016.

The on-premise accounted for about 30% of Campari Group’s U.S. net sales last year, and the company is highly invested in the channel globally with its aperitif brands in particular. In Italy, where sales fell 24% in the first quarter, about 70% of the business is on-premise. Campari CEO Bob Kunze-Concewitz said the group will remain “highly engaged in the on-premise opportunity with our distinctive brand portfolio, firmly convinced that the out-of-home social experience and conviviality will remain essential to consumers’ lifestyles” once the crisis has passed.

Meanwhile, Campari has made an acquisition play in Champagne, agreeing to acquire an 80% stake in the Lallier brand for €21.8 million ($23.7m). Lallier boosts Campari’s position in the French market, where the company recently announced plans to assume its own distribution, and has volume of about 85,000 cases annually and sales of €21 million ($22.7m).—Daniel Marsteller

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