Spirits giants join forces for international venture

Highland Distillers, Remy Cointreau and Jim Beam Brands are to set up a joint venture to handle the distribution and tactical marketing of their brands in all key markets outside the US.

The company, which has yet to be named, will encompass brands such as Remy Martin cognac, Famous Grouse and The Macallan whiskies, Jim Beam bourbon, Cointreau liqueur and Piper Heidsieck champagne. It will have an annual turnover of about 800m and its headquarters will be in Amsterdam.

The venture is the latest example of increasing consolidation in the global spirits industry, which is having to fight falling sales in mature western markets with money-saving alliances and mergers.

As part of the new deal, each of the three parties will contribute about 100m euros in distribution assets.

For Highland Distillers this will include the recently established Highland Distillers Brands subsidiary, which already handles the Highland and Remy brands in the UK.

Tactical marketing, sales and distribution of the combined brands will become the responsibility of the new company. Simon Sanders, director of corporate affairs for Highland Distillers, says control of global strategic marketing will remain with the parent companies.

Highland Distillers says in a statement: “The joint venture will focus on brand building. It is expected to generate substantial synergies, significantly reduce distribution costs and increase sales for each partner.”

The announcement coincides with Highland Distillers half year results, which reveal a six per cent slippage in profits to 23.5m, on turnover down one per cent to 112.4m.

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