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California’s WX Brands Sees Strong Growth For Retail-Focused Brand Stable

June 18, 2020

Novato, California-based wine producer WX Brands has a portfolio that includes Impact “Hot Brand” Bread & Butter, Double Lariat, Whiplash, and Chronic Cellars, among others, with depletions totaling 750,000 cases last year. In January the company expanded with the acquisition of the 100,000-case range of Niven Family Wine Estates for an undisclosed sum. The deal added Niven Family brands True Myth, Tangent, Baileyana, and Zocker to the WX stable.

WX Brands’ strong retail presence has positioned it well for the current off-premise boom. “We have the right products for this moment,” company president and CEO Peter Byck told SND. “We’re benefiting from the overall market dynamic. Wine is up and more people are buying at grocery stores, which is our primary avenue.”

The Bread & Butter brand leapt by 53% last year to nearly 470,000 cases, according to Impact Databank, and Byck says progress has accelerated this year, with the first months of the year seeing growth over 70%. “It’s a combination of the positioning of the product, the price point (about $15), and the outstanding quality of the wine,” Byck says. “It’s very big in the retail channel off-premise, so it’s positioned perfectly, and it’s a trusted brand.”

WX Brands is working to integrate the Niven Family portfolio, which is more on-premise oriented, amid the challenging conditions. In March, the company named Jackson Family Wines veteran Jeff Ngo as senior vice president of marketing to help boost exposure for the Niven brands, as well as drive ongoing efforts on Bread & Butter, Jelly Jar, and Reckless Love, among others.

Amid the pandemic, WX was approved for a payroll protection program (PPP) loan that Byck says totaled millions of dollars, but turned it down. “We thought there were other businesses out there that could use it more, like the on-premise,” he said. The company has also made giving back a priority, partnering with Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen charity through its Revel brand.

While conditions remain difficult, Byck sees reasons to be optimistic. “Consumers are trying new and different products,” he says. “The big thing for new brands is getting people to taste them. Once they’ve experienced them there’s a higher chance they’ll want to drink them on-premise. Trial is key.”—Danny Sullivan

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