Liquor Industry News 6-21-13

www.franklinliquors.com

Franklin Liquors

 

Friday June 21st 2013

HAPPY SUMMER!!

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Rhode Island: Tax changes affecting alcohol sales in R.I. won’t have immediate impact on consumers

 

Source: Providence Journal

By RANDAL EDGAR

21 June 2013

 

The good news is there’ll be no sales tax on wine and spirits, which puts Rhode Island liquor stores in a better position to compete with stores in neighboring Massachusetts.

 

But wait – there are lots of moving parts.

 

Rhode Island, unlike Massachusetts, will still have a 7-percent sales tax on beer. And the sales tax on wine and liquor won’t drop to zero until Dec. 1.

 

Meanwhile, the excise tax on beer, wine and liquor – paid by distributors and passed on to retailers – will go up on July 1, potentially adding a few pennies, sometimes more to purchases if retailers don’t eat the difference.

 

What does it all mean?

 

For starters, it means there will be no immediate relief for customers at Rhode Island liquor stores. In fact, it might be just the opposite. But most retailers and trade associations were cautiously optimistic Thursday that the alcoholic beverage tax changes proposed by legislative leaders this week will be good for their industry, even if the plan is far from perfect and is, as offered, only temporary.

 

“In the short term, from July until December, we’re going to be at even more of a disadvantage with Massachusetts,” said Brian A. Goldman, a lobbyist for the Rhode Island Alcoholic Beverage Wholesale Dealers Association. “Come Dec. 1{+s}{+t}, we think there’s going to be a real plus. There is a psychological aversion to paying the sales tax, and we’re hopeful that when Dec. 1{+s}{+t} rolls around that Rhode Islanders are going to know that they don’t have to pay a sales tax on wine and distilled spirits. And they’re hopefully going to stay in Rhode Island and buy their alcohol and then while they’re at the stores, buy other things.”

 

The proposed changes, part of an $8.2-billion state budget that legislative leaders unveiled this week, represent what Rep. Jan P. Malik, a Warren Democrat and liquor store owner, describes as a compromise. Malik, long an opponent of the sales tax, said the goal was to help liquor stores without taking tens of millions of dollars out of the state’s revenue stream.

 

The sales tax on alcohol sold at liquor stores brought $24.3 million into state coffers during 2012 – too much to do away with, legislative leaders said. The proposed changes, by contrast, are expected to cost the state $1.2 million during the fiscal year that begins July 1, assuming no increase in sales volume.

 

Malik acknowledged there will be short-term pain from July through November, as the increased excise taxes take effect, but he said the proposal – which also eliminates the minimum markup on alcoholic beverages, providing another tool that Massachusetts liquor stores already have – will allow Rhode Island stores to compete once the sales tax is eliminated.

 

“The moral of the story is the consumer’s going to win,” he said.

 

His reasoning: While raising the excise tax adds pennies to the gallon, eliminating the sales tax takes dollars off the end price. For instance, he said the excise tax on a 750-milliliter bottle of wine would rise from 22 cents to 28 cents – an amount he can absorb. But if that bottle retails at $19.99, taking away the sales tax saves the consumer $1.40. If it’s an expensive bottle – say $90 – it saves the customer $6.30, he said.

 

He also said the price of beer, still subject to the sales tax and also subject to the increased excise tax, would barely change, because the higher excise tax on a case would be about 8 or 9 cents.

 

While Malik and others said the changes would help Rhode Island stores compete with stores in Massachusetts, they stressed that it would give Rhode Island stores a big advantage over those in Connecticut, which has a 6.35 percent sales tax and excise taxes that are similar to those proposed for Rhode Island.

 

Still, not everyone was pleased with the changes, which go before the full House – along with the rest of the proposed budget – on Tuesday.

 

Jay Hibbard, vice president of government relations for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, said his group is concerned about the plan to immediately raise the excise tax while delaying the sales tax elimination until Dec. 1.

 

“We would look at that as very inequitable and nothing more than a straight-up money grab by the state,” he said. “The reasoning that we’ve heard back is ‘Well the state needs money,’ and we may be sympathetic to their plight, but we don’t think we should be the ones bailing out the state. If you’re going to offer relief, then make it equitable relief, and that is, when you increase the excise tax, eliminate the sales tax.”

 

While some aspects of the plan have different start dates – July 1 for the excise tax increase and Dec. 1 for the elimination of the sales tax and the minimum markup – all three changes would expire on March 31, 2015, at which point state officials say they would study the impact.

 

 

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Wine and Beer: Nielsen Data Analysis: Wine Dollar Sales +4.3% YoY; Beer Trends Remain Challenged

 

Source: CITI

Jun 20th

 

Wine Category Dollar Sales Increase MSD – In the four-week period ended June 8, 2013, wine category dollar sales increased 4.3% YoY (and +5.2% in the past 12 weeks), while volume sales were up 1.2% YoY (and +1.9% in the last 12 weeks). Also of note, in the period we saw a category-wide increase in promotional spending (+2.1 pts YoY) as well as category-wide pricing increases (+3.1% YoY).

 

STZ Wine Sales Increase 3.2% YoY – STZ’s dollar sales grew 3.2% in the period (and are up 4.7% over the last 12 weeks), while volume sales increased 4.2% (and +5.3% over the last 12 weeks). STZ’s portfolio-wide pricing was down 1.0% in the period (and down 0.6% over the last 12 weeks), while promotional spending was down for the eighth consecutive period (-0.1 pts YoY).

 

Beer Category Volumes Continue to Decline – Beer category volumes fell 1.9% YoY (on a +2.2% comp), marking fourth consecutive month of declining volumes. Dollar sales increased 0.4% YoY (on a +5.1% comp), and would have been flat excluding sales of ABI’s new Budweiser Black Crown offering. Price/mix added 2.3 pts to dollar sales growth (and 2.3 pts over the last 12 weeks), while promotional spending was down in the period (-1.5 pts YoY, vs. -2.2 pts over the last 12 weeks).

 

MillerCoors Trends Remain Challenged – TAP’s MillerCoors JV dollar sales were down 3.3% YoY (and -2.4% over the last 12 weeks), the fourth consecutive month of declining sales. Notably, Coors Light dollar sales (-0.5% YoY) were down for the first time since 2011, while declines continued for Miller Lite (-7.4%), Miller High Life (-6.7%) and Keystone Light (-6.1%). Promotional spending was down 1.8 pts YoY while pricing was up 1.5%.

 

Crown Imports Dollar Sales Increase Ahead of the Category – Dollar sales for STZ’s Crown Imports business were up 6.1% YoY in the period (and +4.2% over the last 12 weeks). Meanwhile, volumes also increased 6.1% YoY (vs. +3.9% over the last 12 weeks) as the company saw no benefit from price/mix. A modest decline in dollar sales for Pacifico was offset by double-digit growth for Modelo Especial and low-single-digit growth for Corona Extra and Corona Light.

 

SAM Pricing Drives Outperformance – Driven by a modest 0.4% increase in pricing, SAM’s beer dollar sales increased 14.0% in the period (vs. +12.8% over the last 12 weeks) on an easy comp (sales were down 1.4% in the year-ago period). Dollar sales growth was led by the Boston Lager brand (+9.4%) and by the Samuel Adams seasonal offerings (+17.4%), and came despite a 0.5 pt YoY decrease in promotional spending. Total-company dollar sales (including cider and FMBs) were up a robust 37.2% YoY.

 

BREW Posts Solid Growth – BREW grew dollar sales 11.8% YoY (vs. +12.0% over the last 12 weeks), driven by strong results for the Redhook Long Hammer IPA offering (+16.9%), the Kona Longboard Island Lager brand (+14.9%) and the Redhook seasonal offerings (+11.4%). While promo was down 1.3 pts, pricing once again lagged the category, down 0.3% YoY.

 

 

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US Beer – Nielsen Data

 

Vol stays weak, price/mix solid in May/June

Source: UBS

Jun 20th

 

US beer sales +0.4% in four weeks to 8 June y/y (vs last 12 week +0.5%)

Nielsen off-trade data for US beer shows market volume -1.9% for the 4 weeks to 8 June, lapping a tough comp of +1.9%. This is basically in line with the last 12 week volume decline of -1.8%, although below the 52 week +0.2%. Given some fears that Memorial Day trading was weak on poor weather this performance for the period looks reasonable. Price/mix grew +2.3% for the 4 week period y/y, in line with the 12 week and above the 52 week trend of +2.1%. Promotional activity continued to drop significantly for the market (-110bps in the month y/y).

 

ABI gains share vs. MillerCoors, but does not pull back as much on promo

ABI volume was weak falling -3.7% y/y (but ahead of -4.1% last 12 week trend), gaining share from MillerCoors after three consecutive months of share losses. MillerCoors saw volumes -4.8% y/y (12 week -3.8%). ABI price/mix growth of +1.4% was a touch above its 12 week trend of +1.3% and a touch below MillerCoors +1.5% y/y for the 4 weeks. ABI sales fell -2.3% y/y for the 4 weeks, outperforming MillerCoors -3.3%. Within premium light, Bud Light volume fell -3.2% y/y, below Coors Light -1.5%, but much better than Miller Lite (-8.7%). Bud Light Platinum held 1.1% market value share in line with last 12 weeks. ABI’s reduction in volume promo activity for the month is -30bps vs MillerCoors -160bps. Crown (STZ) volume grew +6.1% for the month y/y with +0% price/mix y/y. Heineken volume grew +6.2% (driven by Dos Equis) with price/mix -1.4%.

 

Next catalysts: MillerCoors seminar on 20 June

SABMiller co-hosts its MillerCoors divisional seminar on 20 June and will report its Q1 IMS on July 25. ABI will report its H1 results on 31 July.

 

 

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GS Research – Americas: Beverages: Nielsen Notables: Blame the weather (again) for soft beverage data

 

Source: Goldman Sachs

Jun 20th

 

Poor weather leads to soft LRB sales, down -2.1%

For the 4 weeks ending June 8th (includes Memorial Day weekend), LRB sales in AOC (excludes c-store) declined -2.1%, on -1.0% volume and -1.2% price. KO LRB sales decline -2.0%, driven entirely by volume. PEP LRB sales declined -2.6%, on -4.0% volume and +1.5% price. DPS LRB sales decelerated to -4.2%, on -4.8% volume and +0.6% price/mix, as non-carb portfolio weakness (sales down -5.9%) was a headwind.

 

CSDs continue their trajectory, down -3.6%

CSD sales continued their uninspiring trends, with industry sales/volume down -3.6%/-4.9% as poor weather for Memorial Day weekend likely hampered growth. KO CSD sales declined -2.4% on -3.3% volume drag and +1.0% price/mix realization. PEP CSD sales declined -3.7%, on -4.7% volume and +1.1% price/mix. Volume was slightly stronger than recent trends (32-wk avg -5.3%), aided by less pricing. DPS CSD sales declined -3.6% on -4.4% volume.

 

Energy category slightly slower against tough year-ago comp

MNST energy sales outpaced a slower energy industry, up +3.2% against a tough +29.5% year ago comp (industry up +1.8% this period). Total company MNST sales increased +4.6% this period (likely including Peace Tea and Muscle Monster). Red Bull sales grew +5.7% this period, and both RB and MNST gained sales share (+160bp, +49bp respectively). We note that for energy drinks, AOC is a smaller channel than c-store.

 

Beer sales soft at +0.4% as weather weighs on industry

Beer industry sales were up +0.4% this period, a deceleration against a slightly tougher comp than last month. Poor weather was likely a contributor to volume weakness, down -1.9%. TAP sales were down -3.3% on -4.8% volume. Two-year stack sales and volume trends improved nominally, but performance was muted by declines in Miller family of brands. Including non-beer sales (Redd’s Apple Ale) TAP sales declined -2.3%. SAM beer sales grew +14% as Boston Lager sales grew +9.4%. Inclusive of non-beer, SAM sales grew +35.1%. STZ beer sales increased +6.1%, entirely driven by volume and lapping a tougher comp. Modelo Especial continues to perform well, up +24.7%.

 

 

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Pennsylvania needs to get out of the retail and wholesale booze trade if it’s going to privatize

 

Source: Patriot News

By David Ozgo

Patriot-News Op-Ed

June 19, 2013

 

The citizens of Pennsylvania are engaged in a healthy debate over whether or not the commonwealth should privatize wine and spirits sales.

 

To most Pennsylvanians privatization means the ability to purchase wine and spirits in something other than a state-owned and operated package store. To the typical shopper, retail privatization is the most visible aspect of privatization – but not necessarily the most important.

 

The Distilled Spirits Council is the national trade association representing suppliers of distilled spirits products sold in America and has never taken a position on privatization.

 

However, if Pennsylvania policymakers move forward with privatizing retail sales, we feel it is imperative they must also privatize the wholesale tier.

 

While not glamorous, wholesaling is an important business function.

 

In privatized states, wine and spirits wholesalers are responsible for warehousing, inventory control, freight transportation, execution of sales and promotional strategy among other duties. These functions are invisible to most consumers, but in an age where profit margins are thin, business operations require precise timing and efficiency.

 

Right now the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board acts as the wine and spirits wholesaler and some privatization plans would leave wholesaling as a state function. Could the board expand its current wholesaling operations to service the increased number of outlets that would exist after privatization?

 

Let’s consider the current situation.

 

In privatized states wholesalers provide delivery to all outlets that sell wine and spirits – whether package store, grocery store, tavern or restaurant. But, in Pennsylvania, the liquor regulatory agency delivers only to the roughly 600 package stores operated by the state.

 

There are around 15,000 restaurants that have wine and spirits licenses that do not get delivery services and must go to state stores to purchase wine and spirits. The board puts the commonwealth’s hospitality industry at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis surrounding states by not offering this vital service. Compared to private wholesalers in other states, the board only services 4 percent of outlets statewide.

 

While the board acts as the wholesaler in Pennsylvania, in fact it has outsourced most of the core wholesaling functions to private operators. Both warehouse and freight transportation have long been contracted to private firms. And, recently, the board turned inventory control over to wine and spirits suppliers when it went to a “bailment” system. There is nothing wrong with outsourcing.

 

That said, outsourcing is an admission that someone else can do it better. Having outsourced all key functions of wholesaling, the board now acts as an expensive middleman, adding little value to the wholesaling equation.

 

According to the 2011 report “Liquor Privatization Analysis” conducted by the PFM Group, the board spent $34 million on freight transportation alone in fiscal 2009-10 – an average of $54,000 per outlet served. But, keep in mind that the Liquor Control Board only services state stores. Delivering large quantities of product to a limited number of outlets is the easy part of wholesaling.

 

Logistically, it is fairly easy to move large case quantities to a limited number of stores. It costs almost the same amount to deliver 100 cases of wine and spirits to a store as it does a single case to a restaurant. The major freight components are the cost of the truck and the driver’s time en route.

 

What happens in a privatized market when the number of stores doubles or triples? Assuming that there is currently 25 percent excess capacity in the wholesale system, a generous assumption, it would cost the state an additional $54 million annually in freight transportation alone to service a total of 1,800 retail outlets.

 

This still would not bring crucial service to the 15,000 restaurants that now must have employees trek to state stores. Under the current PLCB wholesale system it would cost $770 million each year to service these stores. Even if economies of scale could be found, total costs are likely to be in the hundreds of millions.

 

Clearly, the Liquor Control Board would look to the legislature for additional fee authority if it had to expand wholesale operations or the state would have to accept reduced profits if the agency had to service more accounts.

 

The legislature should not have to find these sums, nor should consumers have to pay the bill. In addition to avoiding new expenditures, the state would reap one-time wholesaler licensing fees of an estimated $573 million if wholesale operations were privatized.

 

A modern hospitality industry demands a high level of service in a cost efficient manner. If the commonwealth of Pennsylvania wishes to privatize the sale of wine and spirits, wholesaling should be privatized as well.

 

David Ozgo is Chief Economist for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) in Washington, DC.

 

 

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Ruvo’s Southern Wine prevails in lengthy legal fight over wine sales

 

Source: Las Vegas Sun

Tiffany Brown

Thursday, June 20, 2013

 

Larry Ruvo has something to toast to. His decade-long legal crusade is coming to a close in his favor.

 

A jury on Thursday found that Orange County, Calif., resident Guy Azera knowingly stepped on liquor distributors’ toes when he started selling upscale wines and champagnes in Nevada.

 

The jury found Azera owes $267,750 in damages as well as punitive damages.

 

Azera muttered, “Unreal,” moments after the verdict was read.

 

Ruvo, senior managing director for Nevada’s arm of Southern Wine & Spirits of America, launched the suit in 2002 accusing Azera’s company, Chateau Vegas, of violating his exclusive deal with select champagnes.

 

Years later, plaintiffs dragged in Azera’s Orange County company, Transat Trade, and moved to stop Azera from selling certain Bordeaux wines in addition to the champagnes.

 

Southern Wine was eventually awarded its exclusive rights in District Court in 2008 and the Nevada Supreme Court upheld the decision in 2011.

 

During the trial Azera’s attorney Duane Frizell painted Southern Wine as a gorilla trying to squeeze the small businessman and cut out the competition. During the trial, Frizell showed a slide with a photo of a frightened man being gripped by a gorilla.

 

Ruvo’s attorney, Leif Reid, contended that Azera schemed to undercut the competition by ignoring the law. Reid showed slides of people plugging their ears and putting their heads in holes ostrich-style.

 

“It’s just been a smear campaign,” Frizell said.

 

Frizell argued that until the court awarded exclusive rights to Southern Wine, everyone was at a loss as to what the law was, including the Department of Taxation.

 

Azera kept in close contact with the department, Frizell said.

 

“Would a person who disregards the law be calling the Department of Taxation and sending letters and trying to find out what his rights were? Is that someone who’s just going to disregard the law?” Frizell asked during closing arguments.

 

The extensive legal clash has been a tremendous burden on Azera’s time, energy and business, Frizell said.

 

Azera was born in the Bordeaux region of France and learned the wine business by working in his family’s restaurant. He started Transat Trade in California after immigrating to the United States and decided to open Chateau Vegas in Las Vegas after several local buyers asked him to sell to them.

 

The defense cast Southern Wine as the out-of-state big business by trumpeting that Southern Wine is based in Florida. While Azera lives in Orange County he spends two to three days a week in Las Vegas, Frizell said.

 

Ruvo’s attorney, Reid, told the jury that both big and small businesses have rights.

 

Also working the local angle, Southern Wine employees packed Wednesday’s trial.

 

Reid attempted to tell the jury that Las Vegas residents were watching, gesturing to the crowd, but the judge ruled the statement out of line.

 

Maison Marques & Domaines, a Cristal distributor, is also named as a plaintiff in the suit and will get a $69,000 cut of the damages plus punitive damages.

 

The jury will meet Tuesday to hash out how much Azera must pay in punitive damages for fraud, oppression or malice.

 

 

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Molson Coors Canada wins injunction in tussle with Miller

 

Source: Reuters

Thu, Jun 20 2013

 

The Ontario Superior Court on Thursday granted Molson Coors a temporary injunction that prevents Miller Brewing Co from ending a license agreement with Molson’s Canadian arm before a trial scheduled for December.

 

In February, Miller, a subsidiary of SABMiller Plc, had announced that it planned to end the deal with Molson Coors Canadian arm as it believed its partner was not doing enough to promote Miller brands in Canada. Molson Coors in turn filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the termination of the license agreement.

 

Miller had provided Molson with a notice of termination in January, and it had been aiming to end the agreement on July 22.

 

Miller said on Thursday it was disappointed with the court’s decision, but said it remains confident in its position ahead of the trial. A spokesman for Molson was not immediately reachable for comment.

 

“We remain firm in our expectation that the Court will agree that we adhered to the terms of our Canadian license agreement when we exercised our right to terminate,” said Stephen Rogers, Miller Brewing Co’s legal counsel.

 

The legal tussle is not expected to have an impact on the partnership between the two companies in the United States. The U.S. beer market is currently dominated by the world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and MillerCoors, a joint venture between Molson Coors and SABMiller.

 

Miller said it remains committed to the Canadian market and Miller trademark brands will continue to be available in Canada.

 

The company said it will continue to prepare for a seamless transition, in the event that it wins the trial on the matter.

 

The court case between the two sides is Molson Canada 2005 V. Miller Brewing Company, in the Superior Court of Justice-Ontario, CV-12-470589.

 

 

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Pflanz named chief of Rémy Cointreau (Additional Coverage)

 

Source: FT

By Scheherazade Daneshkhu in Paris

Jun 20th

 

Rémy Cointreau named finance director Frédéric Pflanz as its new chief executive, to replace Jean-Marie Laborde, 65, who will retire from the French spirits group in September after streamlining the business and pushing it upmarket.

 

Mr Pflanz, who also became chief operating office last December, joined Rémy in 2010 after an 18-year career at L’Oréal, the French cosmetics group, culminating in his appointment as head of finance for consumer products worldwide.

 

Like Mr Laborde, he comes from outside the Hériard Dubreuil family which is the controlling shareholder of a company whose signature Rémy Martin cognac dates back to 1724.

 

The announcement comes as Rémy faces slowing sales in China, where it derives 40 per cent of its operating profit through cognac sales.

 

Mr Laborde said last month that the Paris-based group expected “a lacklustre first half in China and its impact will be felt by the company”. But he foresaw “a significant improvement” in the second half of the year.

 

Mr Laborde will reach the company’s mandatory retirement age at the end of next month, but his contract was extended until after the September 24 annual meeting at which Mr Pflanz’s nomination will be submitted to shareholders for approval. Mr Pflanz, 44, is due to take up his new post on October 1.

 

In his nine years as chief executive, Mr Laborde oversaw a quadrupling of the group’s market value, from ?1.1bn to ?4.3bn. He worked in senior positions at Rémy’s larger French rivals – Pernod Ricard and Moët Hennessy, which is part of LVMH, the luxury goods group.

 

His strategy has been to streamline and move the portfolio upmarket by selling underperforming and low profit-margin brands, including its Charles Heidsieck and Piper Heidsieck champagnes. He has also exerted greater control over distribution.

 

That strategy and superior profits growth have led to a re-rating of the shares which now trade at a 40 per cent premium to the European beverages sector, on 23 times forecast earnings.

 

Of the 40 brands that Rémy possessed when he joined in 1994, only eight remain, each with international potential, including Bruichladdich, the single malt whisky acquired last year. However, some analysts believe Rémy risks becoming over-reliant on cognac and on China.

 

“Jean-Marie has been instrumental in building Rémy’s strong position, especially in Asia, where he was brave enough to change distribution back to a company-owned model and to invest heavily for growth,” said Ian Shackleton, analyst at Nomura.

 

“Frédéric takes over when there are some new challenges in China, with a slowdown in momentum likely to be a factor for some quarters, which creates increased pressure to widen both geographical presence as well as the brand portfolio.”

 

Rémy last month reported an 18 per cent rise in full-year net profit to ?130m in its financial year to March 31. Sales, at ?1.2bn, were 16 per cent higher than in the same period the year before, or 9 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

 

Asia-Pacific accounted for 40 per cent of sales, while 33 per cent were in the Americas, which has benefited from a significant recovery.

 

 

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BrewDog launches another fundraiser

 

Source: Herald Scotland

Tim Sharp

Friday 21 June 2013

 

FORMER ScottishPower chief executive Philip Bowman has emerged as a shareholder and adviser at ambitious Aberdeenshire brewer BrewDog as the company asked investors for another £4 million in a fundraising that values the company at more than £100m.

 

The craft beer company wants to invest £1.6m in increasing capacity at the Ellon brewery it opened earlier this year from 70,000 hectolitres a year, the equivalent of 21 million bottles, to 500,000 hectolitres.

 

Its plans also include a £1m brewing academy in London.

 

The move comes two years after the company behind drinks such as Punk IPA and 5am Saint raised £2.2m through its online crowd-funding scheme to back the building of a new brewery in Ellon.

 

This time, the Equity for Punks scheme will offer 42,000 shares at £95 each, equivalent to 3.9% of the expanded company.

 

This values the company at £103m, some 211 times last year’s pre-tax profit.

 

BrewDog co-founder James Watt said: “We love the fact that we are funded by the people who buy our beers.”

 

He insisted the valuation put an appropriate price on the company, which he said had posted a profit of £300,000 in each of the last two months after benefiting from the increased capacity and efficiency of its new plant.

 

This, he said, would bring earnings for 2014 close to £4m, against the pre-tax profit of £486,000 posted in 2012.

 

He added that this suggested the valuation implied by the share issue was 20 to 25 times earnings, in line with established drinks companies such as Diageo, but for a business that was expanding more rapidly.

 

Mr Bowman runs engineering conglomerate Smiths Group. Previously he was chief executive of Glasgow-based ScottishPower and oversaw its sale to Spanish utility Iberdrola in 2006.

 

But he has a background in the drinks industry, having been chief executive of drinks company Allied Domecq, until its sale to Pernod Ricard, and worked for Bass, as well as serving as a non-executive director of Edinburgh brewer Scottish & Newcastle.

 

He said: “Not often do you come across a team that displays such strong entrepreneurial flair with the skills and drive to challenge the status quo in an industry increasingly dominated by global brands and companies.

 

“BrewDog is a real innovator – a combination of brewing differentiated beers that have real taste combined with quirky and memorable marketing. Great news for Scotland and for beer drinkers everywhere.”

 

Mr Watt said Mr Bowman was acting as an advisor but might eventually become a non-executive director.

 

Mr Bowman acquired a near 2% holding after a share sale by BrewDog co-founder Martin Dickie at the end of last year.

 

The prospectus for the share issue shows that he paid £221,000 for 15,000 “A” shares in BrewDog, although a £100m valuation for the company would mean this stake was worth nearly £2m.

 

If the share sale is fully subscribed, Mr Watt will retain 37.1% of the company and Mr Dickie 32.5%. Mr Dickie said he reduced his holding after deciding to get married and build a house.

 

The pair continue to plan for an eventual flotation of the company, perhaps in four to five years, but Mr Watt said this was a “long term ambition” that would only be realised once the business was scaled up.

 

BrewDog plans to add another 30 people to its 80-strong workforce in North East Scotland over the next 12 months. Overall employee numbers currently total around 200.

 

Mr Watt said: “It is a pretty good story for providing employment in a recession and a pretty good story for British manufacturing, which constantly gets knocked.”

 

The closing date for the share offer is January 22.

 

 

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Ferocious fungus imperils future of British gin and tonic

 

‘I’ll have mine with a twist of Phytophthora austrocedrae, my good man’

 

Source: The Register

By Rik Myslewski

21st June 2013

 

Juniper berries, the crucial ingredient in the quintessential British distilled spirit, gin, and thus critical to the revered pick-me-up, gin and tonic, are under attack.

 

“Juniper is in serious trouble,” a spokeswoman for Plantlife Scotland told The Telegraph on Wednesday. “One of only three native conifers in Britain, not only does it face a new deadly fungal disease, Phytophthora austrocedrae, it has also disappeared from over one-third of Britain where it was previously found.”

 

According to Plantlife’s Tim Wilkins, many southern English counties had lost 60 to 70 per cent of their populations of juniper before the heroic efforts of that organization began to bring it back from near extinction. But that progress is now threatened by Phytophthora austrocedrae.

 

Not only are about 45 per cent of Scottish juniper bushes at risk of being destroyed by the fungus, The Telegraph reports, but much of the existing stock is suffering from old age, and others bushes are being dispatched by “booming rabbit and vole populations.”

 

Should the juniper bush disappear from Blighty, however, you’ll still be able to pick up a bottle of Gordon’s for a weekend romp with the boys – most commercial gin is formulated these days with berries procured from Eastern European suppliers.

 

But the loss of British juniper should not be taken lightly. Not only would it weaken the worldwide genetic stock of the blessed berry bushes, thus leaving existing sources perhaps more susceptible to future infestations, but also it would be a cultural blow to a country which has had a long – albeit sometimes tumultuous – relationship with the national spirit.

 

In the first half of the 18th century, in fact, gin was – as one wag here at Vulture Annex put it – “the crack of its time.” During the Gin Craze, it has been estimated that the average Londoner downed between 50 and 60 liters of “Mother’s Ruin” per year.

The first Gin Act was passed in 1736 in an effort to stem the torrents of gin flowing down the gullets of Londoners. Unfortunately, it had an effect much like what the US experiment with Prohibition did nearly two centuries later – it drove the manufacture of gin underground.

 

A second try to stop the tsunami of the cheap intoxicant was made in the Gin Act of 1751, but it wasn’t until decades later – the Sale of Beer Act in 1830, which removed the tax on beer – that the scourge of what dry moralists blamed for misery, poverty, prostitution, murder, theft, and worse, began to wane.

 

Today, gin has lost its crack-like rep in the UK, and is even famously beloved by the royal family. Now that “this royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, this earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, this other Eden” has learned to drink, as the interminable beer commercials in the States say, “responsibly”, it would be cruel of Mother Nature to strip it of the berries that make a cool G&T such a blessing.

 

 

——

Philippine brand to overtake Bacardi as world’s largest rum

 

Source: The Spirits Business

by Becky Paskin

21st June, 2013

 

Philippine rum brand Tanduay could overtake Bacardi as the world’s largest rum brand by next year, as it launches in the US this summer.

 

Tanduay Asian Rum could break Bacardi’s hold on the international rum market by next year

 

Currently selling 19.6m nine-litre cases annually in regional markets, Tanduay has recently been positioning itself as a global rum brand, with its eyes now firmly set on the US’ untapped potential.

 

A successful launch in the States, where rum sales increased 1.5% by volume in 2012, led by super-premium brands, could see Tanduay overtake Bacardi – which shifts 19.8m cases – as the number-one selling rum in the world.

 

“As we began to lay the groundwork for making Tanduay a global brand, it was clear that the United States was an important, yet untapped market,” said Lucio K. Tan Jr, president of Tanduay Distillers Inc.

 

Tanduay Distillers has partnered with marketing consultancy firm Brand Action Team, Beacon Beverage Imports and MHW to lead the introduction of Tanduay to the US.

 

The brand will lead with Silver Tanduay and Gold Tanduay this summer in select markets.

 

“Tanduay is a true Asian jewel,” said Steve Raye, managing partner of Brand Action Team. “With more than 160 years of heritage pleasing rum lovers around the world, Tanduay is ready to hit the US market. This is a brand that US consumers are going to love, and we’re thrilled to bring this award winning rum to America.”

 

MHW will be responsible for the administrative, regulatory compliance, transportation, logistics and other services related to the import and physical distribution of Tanduay in the US.

 

 

——

Mixed reviews of Vinexpo 2013 as Beynat bids farewell

 

Source: Drinks International

By Hamish Smith

20 June, 2013

 

Exhibitors offered a mixed appraisal of Vinexpo 2013, the last Bordeaux show of Robert Beynat’s reign as CEO.

 

The show, which today closed its doors for another two years, attracted an estimated 48,800 visitors from 148 countries.

 

Thomas Seiter, international director of H Mounier, said his company’s expenditure had amounted to about ?100,000 and doubted that attending the show was profitable.

 

“Vinexpo Bordeaux is 90% PR,” said Setier. “There is a reason why the big names are not here: Cognac’s big markets are in Asia. If I have to spend money it would be at Vinexpo Hong Kong, which is more business orientated. We do generate contacts here but the new business does not cover the costs.”

 

Chateaux & Terroirs managing director Frederic Raynaud said “the best show in Europe is Prowein” and added he plans to scale back the size of his stand next time, in favour of the German show because “Vinexpo is expensive”.

 

He added: “People say that you do business at Prowein and at Vinexpo you just party.”

 

Beynat rejected exhibitors’ criticism that French brands now attend the show for social and political, not business reasons.

 

He said: “It’s nothing to do with diplomacy and politics. Vinexpo Bordeaux has never been a fair – it’s a place to prepare business for the next year – to speak about strategy, bottle labels and vintage. Without Vinexpo there is nothing.”

 

The 65-year old will leave his role before the 2015 edition of the show after 30-plus years at the helm. He is mooted to be taking up a role in Asia where the show is rolling-out from Hong Kong to incorporate events in Beijing and Tokyo.

 

He added: “If you do not exhibit at the Bordeaux show you cannot exhibit at the Hong Kong show. Bordeaux will always be the mother show.”

 

Jan Pettersen, managing director of Fernando and Castilla offered a more positive assessment of the 2013 show: “We have been coming to Vinexpo since 1983. The number of international visitors [this year] is impressive.”

 

About 40% of visitors came from outside France this year, organisers said.

 

 

——

Chinese face suspicion in French wine world

 

Source: FRANCE 24

Jun 20th

 

Amid dozens of tradeshow stands at this year’s Vinexpo fair in the southwest city of Bordeaux, one in particular stands out. Inside its imperial-red folding screens, the Yunnan Red Château & Wine stand visitors are tempted to savour a “taste of the East”. Tiana Wu, a young woman who has worked for the vineyard based in southern China since 1997, tips a bottle of red that is adorned with fine Oriental motifs and calligraphy. But two perplexing words stand out on the otherwise harmonious label: “French wild”.

 

Wu has trouble explaining what the term means. The wine’s grapes grow and are harvested in China. They are also pressed and bottled there. Does the taste recall French wines from a certain region? The talkative saleswoman admits she is not sure.

 

What is sure is her enthusiasm for French “vin” and the wine-rich region that hosts Vinexpo – the world’s largest annual tradeshow of its kind. “We would love to buy a wine property in France,” Wu says of her company. “But first we have to test out products to see if they are compatible with European tastes.”

 

Yunnan Red Wine & Castle is just one of several Chinese wine companies trying their luck on the French market. Since 2011, China has set out to become one of the world’s top wine producers and has already made inroads in France by buying up close to a dozen properties in the last few years. But like the supposedly Eastern-flavoured bottle that promises a hint of France, the sudden mélange has left many perplexed.

 

Not striving for excellence

 

Stéphane Derenoncourt, a French oenologist and successful wine consultant, is one of the Bordeaux locals watching the Chinese craze for wine with amazement.

 

Derenoncourt says he receives at least two requests for his expertise from Chinese companies every week, but has started turning the majority of them down.

 

“I get the sense that in reality there is little interest in China for wine culture. Wine has become interesting as a symbol of prestige, but few actually care about the taste,” he lamented, adding that he considered the phenomenon to be “a little disturbing”.

 

He is convinced that the recent Chinese tide in the region is mainly motivated by the prospect of business profits, not the pursuit of excellence in the field. An interest in cultivating and improving wine production – a trait among Japanese and Americans who have invested in Bordeaux in the past – seems to be largely missing this time around.

 

According to Olivier Poels, deputy editor of the specialised monthly magazine “Revue du vin Français”, Chinese investors are seeking a rubberstamp of French expertise and prestige to inflate the price of their bottles. The wine expert says this trend is particularly disconcerting because many Chinese-made wines are sold at prices far too elevated for their mediocre quality.

 

‘Used to a more subtle approach’

 

Chinese wine producers are in a hurry, says Edouard André, the director of Asian sales for an upscale wine estate in the region. “The investors want to acquire a vineyard with a recognised name. Even a small castle is interesting to them provided it has a name that can be easily branded, like ‘Lafite’,” he noted.

 

“People in Bordeaux are used to a more subtle approach,” André added, in reference to the blunt, and often financially unrestrained, approach of many Chinese investors. “They simply lay down their cheque book on the table and say ‘how much’?”

 

A case in point is the purchase of the Château de Gevrey-Chambertin  – one of France’s most prestigious brands in the Burgundy region – by a Chinese group one year ago. The 8-million-euro sale caused consternation among wine growers, since the property had been previously estimated at 3.5 million euros, or less than half of the sale price.

 

Keeping it French

 

But unlike others, André welcomes the interest of Chinese investors in the region, which he says can only translate into a boon for the Bordeaux name.

 

“We welcome them with open arms, and claims that the Chinese will somehow spoil the identity of Bordeaux’ castles is simply unfounded,” he said.

 

He points to the Chinese food industry giant Cofco, which bought a 20-acre vineyard in the Château de Viaud, located on the sought-after wine appellation Lalande de Pomerol, in 2011. Since the acquisition Cofco has continued to work with the same oenologist employed by the previous owners.

 

The Chinese-owned company Moutai has adopted a similar approach since it bought the Château Loudenne three months ago.

 

“Its wonderful that France can capture the imagination of the Chinese, who want to come to our country to learn our savoir-faire,” says Melanie Tesseron, the owner of Château Pontet-Canet, another prestigious brand.

 

Challenging the image of unfeeling businessmen, she sees the Chinese as “romantics” of wine and viticulture.

 

Whatever image finally sticks in the world of winemaking, the French will have to get used to China’s presence. In 2011 the Asian giant became the eight largest wine producer in the world, and the top importer of Bordeaux wine.

 

 

——

A Marriage Made in Bubbles

 

Source: WSJ

By WILL LYONS

Jun 20th

 

‘What is good today is that Champagne is an accessible luxury.’

 

THE MATRIMONIAL CUSTOM of toasting a bride and groom with a glass of Champagne is perhaps the most appropriate of all. For when you pop the cork on a bottle of Champagne, you are enjoying the fruits of a complex marriage: a union of black grapes and white grapes, sourced from many different villages from several different years. It is also an alliance between the grower who owns the vineyards, the house that buys their grapes and the chef de garde (winemaker) who blends everything together. If one of these relationships breaks down, the chain is broken and the marriage hits the rocks.

 

For the past 15 years, Pol Roger’s president, Patrice Noyelle, has kept this partnership healthy. The former mayor of the Burgundian village of Solutré-Pouilly, who took over, in his words, “a beautiful Champagne house with enormous fame” but one that needed modernizing, recognized the importance of the interwoven network of relationships that go into producing great Champagne.

 

“When I was in Burgundy I was among the growers all the time,” he says. “Coming into Champagne, this was very helpful to me. It’s about human relations.” So he cultivated relationships with farmers in the Champagne villages that mattered, bought the right grapes from the right plots and hired the best people-in 1999 persuading Dominique Petit, chef de garde at rival Krug, to come and work for him.

 

The strategy has paid off. When the British royal household needed Champagne for the marriage between Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011 it was to Mr. Noyelle they turned. “I was asked to say nothing,” he says. “The order was for bottles and I said no! It will be so much better in magnums. I married all my children in magnums. So they said, well, just divide the order by two.”

 

Now his marriage to Pol Roger comes to its natural end. Next week, at a board meeting in Épernay, Mr. Noyelle, 67, will finally step down, handing over control to his export manager, Laurent d’Harcourt, who takes over at a good time for the house.

 

Champagne is also in a good place. The 2002 vintage, released this year, has been lauded as one of the best in recent years and the 2012 growing season has produced the best grapes Mr. Noyelle says he has ever seen. “To me, 2012 is the best vintage I’ve done in the last 15 or 16 years,” he says. “I think 2012 could be better than 2002 because the fruits are riper-phenolic ripeness.”

 

One of the major challenges facing Mr. Noyelle’s successor will be production. As the Champagne region is a delineated appellation within a limited geographical area, they cannot grow more grapes. “If Champagne is becoming rare, if it’s becoming too expensive, we are going to lose touch with the customers that are drinking Champagne on a regular basis,” says Mr. d’Harcourt. “What is good today is that Champagne is an accessible luxury for everybody.” Indeed, in real terms, it is cheaper than it was 100 years ago.

 

But, as every Champagne insider will tell you, if you want the most for your money, you should be buying magnums. “It usually tastes fresher and finer,” Mr. Noyelle insists. “Always,” buy magnums, he continues. Especially when one is celebrating a wedding.

 

 

——

Trail of thefts followed Napa wine executive

 

Source: Press Democrat

By CATHY BUSSEWITZ

Thursday, June 20, 2013

 

Friends of Chris Edwards describe the Napa man as a friendly, thoughtful guy who was always there when they needed him.

 

But interviews and public records reveal a side of Edwards that few knew before the wine executive was accused this week of embezzling $900,000 from his employer.

 

In 1993, Edwards was convicted of multiple counts of larceny in North Carolina, for amounts exceeding $200, according to public records. Then, as an executive at the wine company New Vine Logistics in 2005, he was accused of depositing three of the company’s checks, totaling about $1,300, into an account in his name, according to the Napa County Sheriff’s Office.

 

On Monday, after a two-month investigation by the FBI, Martin Christopher Edwards, who went by “Chris” in Wine Country, was accused of siphoning money from The Wine Tasting Network, a subsidiary of 1-800-Flowers.com.

 

Now, the company has shuttered its Napa direct-to-consumer wine shipping office and shifted those operations to Chicago, a company spokesman confirmed.

 

And Edwards is on the lam, after failing to appear Monday for a hearing at U.S. District Court in San Francisco, according to the FBI. Friends and former colleagues said they’re concerned for his whereabouts, even as they take in the shock of the recent news.

 

“We’re stunned … and I think it’s a sad state of affairs,” said Joe Waechter, CEO of WineDirect, who worked with Edwards when WineDirect bought a fulfillment company that was affiliated with Wine Tasting Network.

 

“I’ve worked in a lot of different industries, and I’ve come across folks taking office equipment home, or a computer, even. I’ve come across people raiding the petty cash drawer,” Waechter said. “The reason I’m stunned is I’ve never come across this, other than what I’ve seen on TV.”

 

Attempts to reach Edwards by phone, email and social media were unsuccessful.

 

Deb Stallings, a member of the Napa Valley Unity League and a close friend of Edwards, depicted him as a man who wanted to make the world a better place. He helped organize the Napa Valley Academy Awards, a fundraising event that aims to help victims of AIDS and cancer, and the Napa Valley AIDS Walk. Although he was involved with the fundraisers, he wasn’t in charge of accepting donations or depositing money, Stallings said.

 

“He was one of my very best friends,” said Stallings, who has known Edwards for a decade. “He was just a geek … He was this big old goof, and he has a goofy laugh.”

 

Stallings described Edwards as a smart, politically savvy man who recommended management books like “Who Moved My Cheese?” and who read poetry at her wedding. She had met up with Edwards and several other friends nearly two weeks ago for dinner, and everything seemed fine, she said.

 

“A week later, my phone starts blowing up,” Stallings said. “It’s Pride Week in Napa Valley now. We’re together a lot right now, and it’s on people’s minds that one of us is missing.”

 

Reached by phone, Scott Butler, Edwards’ partner, said he was blindsided by the news, but said he could not comment further without a lawyer.

 

Edwards ran unsuccessfully for Napa City Council about a decade ago. During the campaign, details emerged about the larceny convictions in North Carolina, Stallings said. She and other friends confronted him to find out what happened.

 

“He said he was married to a woman that had written bad checks, and that made sense,” Stallings said. “I didn’t lose sleep over that, because it made sense.”

 

Around that time, Edwards was a senior manager at New Vine Logistics, a wine industry fulfillment house. A coworker from New Vine filed a complaint with the Napa Valley Sheriff’s Office in 2005 about how Edwards was handling the money.

 

“Somebody at the business where he was working had noticed they were missing checks that should have been made out to the business,” sheriff’s Capt. Tracy Stuart said. “All three checks had been made out to the business, and had been deposited into an account belonging to Martin Edwards.”

 

The checks were for $332.41, $740 and $270, Stuart said. New Vine executives had wanted to consult with lawyers before filing charges, but never followed up to prosecute, Stuart said.

 

“Most people are just interested in getting their money back, so a lot of times on embezzlement cases they’ll start with us and then resolve it themselves,” Stuart said. “Unfortunately, that lets a lot of people not have criminal records that deserve them.”

 

That same year, Edwards moved into a management position at Wine Tasting Network, also known as winetasting.com, according to his LinkedIn profile.

 

Representing winetasting.com, Edwards sponsored events in the wine industry including seminars run by the Wine Industry Symposium Group, said Kathy Archer, president of the group.

 

“I’m very saddened by it. I just thought he was doing very well with his business,” Archer said. “We were asking, ‘What happened? He seems to be out of touch lately.’ It just was not what I thought … I just thought he was a very nice person.”

 

The federal indictment by the U.S. Attorney’s Office states that from May 2010 through December 2012, Edwards devised a scheme to defraud 1-800-Flowers.com, which owns The Wine Tasting Network, out of about $900,000. Prosecutors allege that Edwards created a fictitious company, called ‘Dufrane Compliance Trust,’ a company that provided regulatory compliance services to the wine industry. They allege that Edwards emailed requests for payment to Dufrane, and then used the money to pay personal expenses including a $40,282 check paid to Weatherford BMW, a $24,000 check paid to Coles Law Firm, and a $25,000 check paid to cash. He was accused of 23 counts of money laundering, wire fraud and mail fraud.

 

Joseph Pititto, spokesman for 1-800-Flowers.com, said the company would not comment on legal matters. But he confirmed that Wine Tasting Network’s operations were moved to Chicago and out of Napa.

 

“It is being run by the gourmet food and gift baskets segment,” Pititto said.

 

WineDirect, the company that bought wine fulfillment company WTN Services from 1-800-Flowers.com in 2011, was not impacted by the embezzlement charges, Waechter said.

 

Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, which was a beneficiary of the Napa Valley Academy Awards event that Edwards helped organize, was not concerned about the possibility that funds may have been mishandled, said Vanessa DeGier, spokeswoman.

 

“He’s one of many who helped support the fundraiser,” DeGier said. “As far as I can tell, I don’t think there’s any kind of connection with the money raised for this event. I don’t think he was the money handler.”

 

Late Thursday, FBI officials confirmed that Edwards had not yet been taken into custody.

 

“None of us are all good, and none of us are all bad, and I have to say I only know the good parts of Chris,” Stallings said. “Hopefully he knows that there are people here who are certainly disappointed, but still love him, and want what’s best for him. He’s on all of our minds.”

 

News researcher Janet Balicki contributed to this report.

 

 

——

Truett-Hurst, Inc. Announces Pricing Of Initial Public Offering

 

Source: Street Insider

June 19, 2013

 

Truett-Hurst, Inc. (“Truett”) today announced the pricing of its initial public offering of 2,700,000 shares of its Class A common stock at a price to the public of $6.00 per share.  The shares will be listed on the Nasdaq Capital Market beginning on June 20, 2013 and will trade under the symbol “THST.” The offering is expected to close on June 25, 2013.

 

Truett intends to use the net proceeds from the offering to pay down amounts owed under its credit facility, for working capital, capital expenditures, hiring additional personnel and for general corporate purposes.

 

W.R. Hambrecht + Co., LLC is leading the offering, which was made through its OpenIPO auction-based process that opens participation to all investors.  CSCA Capital Advisors, LLC, Feltl and Company, Inc. and Sidoti & Company, LLC are serving as co-managers for the offering.

 

The registration statement on Form S-1 relating to these securities has been filed with, and declared effective by the Securities and Exchange Commission.  The offering of these securities was made only by means of a written prospectus forming part of the effective registration statement.  Copies of the preliminary prospectus related to the offering may be obtained from WR Hambrecht + Co at (415) 551-8606 or by contactingssmith@wrhambrecht.com.

 

 

——

Francois Lamarche dies in tractor accident

 

Source: Decanter

by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

Thursday 20 June 2013

 

Francois Lamarche, winemaker and owner of Domaine Lamarche in Burgundys Vosne-Romanee, died on Tuesday afternoon following a tractor accident at his family’s holiday home in Baudrieres, also in Burgundy.

 

It is understood the tractor rolled into a lake on the property, trapping the 69-year-old Lamarche underneath.I

 

Domaine Lamarche makes 14 separate wines, including the monopole La Grande Rue, and three other Grands Crus in Clos de Vougeot, Grands Echezeaux and Echezeaux, over 28 acres in total. The family has made wine in Vosne since the 18th century, with François taking over from his father in 1985.

 

For the last few years, François has been running the property with his daughter Nicole, sister Genevieve and niece Nathalie.

 

‘Above all else, he loved the vines, and was truly passionate winemaker,’ his wife Marie-Blanche said yesterday.

 

‘His contribution to the estate was immeasurable, particularly in getting La Grand Rue recognised as a Grand Cru in 1989’, Tim Atkin MW told Decanter.com.

 

‘The wines are among the best of the region, and his work will be ably continued by Nicole and Nathalie.’

 

 

——

The Sport of Sommelier

 

Film ‘Somm’ Explores the Pursuit of a Wine Profession

 

Source: WSJ

By LETTIE TEAGUE

Jun 20th

 

I spent the opening minutes of the movie “Somm” trying to imagine its producer in a Hollywood pitch meeting. “It’s a buddy picture: There are four guys and a lot of drinking-well, actually, spitting-kind of like ‘Sideways’ meets Seth Rogen without any gratuitous nudity, betrayal, rolling of cross-joints or throwing up.”

 

Actually, it’s no such thing. It’s a documentary film about four friends in the wine business who spend a great deal of time holed up in hotel rooms, apartments and cars quizzing one other with flash cards about regions and grapes and seemingly thousands of arcane wine facts. There is lots of wine drinking but even more spitting, because they all aim to be master sommeliers.

 

Master sommelier is a title that has been earned by fewer than 200 wine professionals in the world. It is granted by the rather grandiosely titled Court of Master Sommeliers and requires a grueling three-part exam. There’s a “theory” test that covers all kinds of wine facts; a service exam wherein the candidate actually waits on a table of judges; and a blind tasting of six wines, three red and three white, that the candidates are expected to identify-from the country to the region, the subregion, the grape and the vintage. Some would-be masters take years to pass all three parts, and some candidates end up retaking the tests several times (as does one of the candidates in the film.)

 

The movie, which opens Friday night in New York, was filmed over the course of three years on a decidedly un-Hollywood budget “closer to $50,000 than $1 million,” said writer-director Jason Wise. A lot of the action takes place in California; in fact, all four of the sommeliers were California-based when the filming began, though sommelier Dustin Wilson has since moved to New York after landing a job as the wine director of Eleven Madison Park.

 

I sat down with Mr. Wilson recently to discuss the film, his friends and their quixotic quest. My first question, after seeing how much time, effort and money Mr. Wilson put into his quest for the master sommelier title, was: Why? (Spoiler alert: I’m going to give part of the movie’s ending away and reveal that Mr. Wilson does, in fact, become a master, though not all his friends do.)

 

The 33-year-old Mr. Wilson, a low-key and serious fellow, had clearly been asked this question many times. One reason, he said, was that it led to his current position. “I don’t think I could have scored this job without it,” he said. Another was that being a master sommelier put him on the map, or at least “it gets your foot in the door.”

 

Surely, I said, there are easier ways of landing such a position-such that don’t require several thousands of hours of studying and a good part of one’s life. (Mr. Wilson said he spent three to four hours a day studying-and eight hours a day when he was off from his job-for five months.) Mr. Wilson said he was simply compelled by the quest: “I’m a competitive guy.”

 

The same could be said of Mr. Wilson’s friends and co-stars: Brian McClintic, D’Lynn Proctor and Ian Cauble. Mr. McClintic observed at one point in the film that highly competitive people “tend to find their way into the sommelier field.” And no one is more clearly intent on winning the master sommelier title than Mr. Cauble, who seems to exist in another dimension from his friends-some of whom even talk about having to “get away from Ian for a while,” as he’s just so intense.

 

In one scene, Mr. Cauble is shown describing a wine that he’s tasting to Mr. Wilson, but he’s not really talking; instead, it’s more like he’s in a word-rich trance: “A white wine, clear, star-bright, light straw color, medium concentration of color, lime candy, lime zest, crushed apples, under-ripe melon, green melon, green pineapple.” He draws a breath-and then a few more paragraphs of words tumble forth. Mr. Wilson sits across the table with an impassive look.

 

There is a lot of that sort of talk in the movie; in fact, it might sound like a parody of winespeak to a nonprofessional, but it’s delivered far too seriously for any comedic effect. (There’s not a lot of levity to be found in the master sommelier quest.)

 

I’d actually been hoping to see more of what the sommeliers actually do in their real life, at work in restaurants, but they’re mostly depicted bent over spit buckets or flash cards. (When I mentioned this to Mr. Wise, he said that he’d wanted to film in restaurants but that it would have been too awkward and expensive.)

 

In fact, Mr. Wise hadn’t actually intended to film a group of sommeliers at all. He had just wanted to make a movie about people who were “obsessive in some way.” But he had found few people who were really willing to dedicate themselves so completely to an ideal or a project until he met this group of friends.

 

While Mr. Wilson said he hoped “Somm” would reveal that sommeliers did more than “show up at a table dressed in a nice suit,” Mr. Wise said he hopes the movie will reach beyond wine to tell a story-of friendship and the nature of competitiveness, and also that it “isn’t mean about wine, like ‘Sideways.'” (We both agreed “Sideways” was a mean movie.) In fact, Mr. Wise managed all three. I just wish there had been fewer flashcards.

 

 

——

Diageo advisers on alert as new general counsel takes reins

 

Source: Legalweek.com

Alex Newman

21 Jun 2013

 

Drinks giant shakes up legal team after splitting Europe operations

 

Diageo has appointed Siobhan Moriarty as its new general counsel, replacing current global legal chief Tim Proctor, who is retiring after 13 years in the role.

 

Moriarty, who was previously European GC at the drinks giant, will formally step into the top legal role on 1 July, following a transition period that began in January.

 

One of the largest corporates in the FTSE 100, Diageo counts Smirnoff, Jose Cuervo and Guinness among its brands.

 

Other senior changes to the in-house legal team include the internal promotions of David Harlock to GC for Africa, Turkey, Russia & Eastern Europe and Catriona Macritchie as GC of Western Europe, following the company’s split of its European operations.

 

Diageo declined to comment on whether the in-house changes would result in a review of its legal advisers.

 

The company last conducted a formal review of its external advisers in 2009, which saw CMS Cameron McKenna win a spot as a preferred firm for commercial work across continental Europe.

 

Slaughter and May is Diageo’s main corporate adviser in the UK, while other UK firms the company works with include Addleshaw Goddard, Pinsent Masons, Maclay Murray Spens, Morton Fraser and SJ Berwin.

 

Sullivan & Cromwell is Diageo’s main counsel on US corporate matters, while, according to data provided by Mergermarket, other advisers to Diageo include Baker & McKenzie, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, Ireland’s William Fry and South African outfit Bowman Gilfillan.

 

One partner who regularly advises the company said: “We take nothing for granted; Diageo works with a large number of law firms and we’d like to think we’d remain an adviser, but Siobhan has to establish strong relationships with her external advisers and work out what works best for her.”

 

 

——

Kroger remains model of consistency

 

Source: RT

By Mike Troy

June 20, 2013

 

Kroger trounced first quarter sales and profit forecasts, posting a 3.3% gain in identical store sales that drove a 92 cent a share profit.

 

Total sales increased 3.4% to $30 billion and the 3.3% gain in identical store sales was well ahead of analysts’ forecast of 2.8% growth. It was the company’s 38th consecutive quarter of positive identical store sales growth. Net income increased 9.6% to $481 million which translated to per share profit of 92 cents that was four cents better than the 88 cents analysts’ forecast.

 

“Kroger achieved strong sales and record earnings per share for the quarter, and our customers’ positive view of us continues to improve,” said Dave Dillon, Kroger’s chairman and CEO. “This is because of our continued focus on the Customer 1st strategy. Our first quarter results give us the confidence to raise our guidance for the year.”

 

Looking forward, maintained its fuel year identical store sales forecast of an increase in the range of 2.5% to 3.5%, but modestly elevated its full year profit forecast range to $2.73 to $2.80 from an earlier forecast of $2.71 to $2.79.

 

The company said its strong financial position allowed it to return more than $1.3 billion to shareholders through share buybacks and dividends over the last four quarters and during the first quarter, Kroger spent $146 million to buy back 4.5 million shares. It also invested $646 million in capital improvements during the quarter, up from $557 million for the same period last year. Full year capital investments are expected to range from $2.1 to $2.4 billion.

 

Kroger ended the quarter with 2,419 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith’s. The company also operates 784 convenience stores, 322 jewelry stores, 1,182 supermarket fuel centers and 37 food processing plants in the U.S.

 

 

——

Rite Aid improves profits as sales slip

 

Source: RT

June 20, 2013

 

Rite Aid reported profits for the third consecutive quarter, as it launched the largest extension to date to its loyalty card program and continued growing the latest iteration of its new store format.

 

The company announced Wednesday the launch of Wellness65+, an extension to the Wellness+ loyalty program aimed at elderly customers, amid sustained growth in the program overall. At the end of first quarter 2014, Wellness+ counted about 25 million active members, defined as those who use their cards at least twice over the past 26 weeks. Members accounted for 77% of front-end sales and 70% of prescriptions filled, both indicating growth over first quarter 2013, while the number of Gold and Silver members, the program’s most frequent users, increased by 4%.

 

Poly-chronic patients, who are those with multiple chronic conditions, are among Rite Aid’s most important customers, and most of them tend to be elderly. “We think Wellness65+ will give seniors a compelling reason to become loyal Rite Aid customers,” president, chairman and CEO John Standley said in a conference call with Wall Street analysts to discuss the results.

 

COO Ken Martindale said that the company was working on modifying workflows and building Wellness65+ into the daily activities of employees, with pharmacists as the primary staff engaging with patients, but it was not anticipated that the program would create much extra work overall.

 

Enrollment in Wellness65+ includes an expanded consultation with the pharmacist, and pharmacist-patient consultations in general also have seen growth, as the company registered a 68% increase year-over-year in medication therapy management sessions. While MTM is not a significant contributor to revenue, Standley highlighted its ability to improve health and lower healthcare costs.

 

The company has also pushed forward with its expansion of the Wellness store format, converting 108 stores to its latest iteration, dubbed Genuine Well Being and originally showcased last year in a Lemoyne, Pa., store. Currently, 905 of the chain’s 4,615 stores have been converted to Wellness stores, with the goal of having about 1,200 converted by the end of fiscal year 2014. Front-end sales at Wellness stores are about 3.5% higher than non-Wellness stores, while pharmacy sales have not tracked as high, but are still positive.

 

More than 1,500 Wellness Ambassadors – specially trained staff who man the aisles with tablet computers to provide information on health and wellness products and serve as a “bridge” between the front end and the pharmacy – have been hired. Martindale said Wellness Ambassadors also were important for serving as a bridge between the store and the overall community and would play a critical role in pushing Wellness65+.

 

Wellness65+, Martindale said, would give customers “a pathway for building strong relationships with our associates and understanding how the Rite Aid experience goes far beyond filling prescriptions.”

 

For the quarter, the company reported sales of $6.3 billion, compared with $6.5 billion in first quarter 2013, with the decrease resulting largely from new generic introductions. Same-store sales decreased by 2.5% for the same reason, including a 3.8% decrease in pharmacy sales and a 0.4% increase in front-end sales. Same-store prescription count decreased by 0.1%, and the company noted that it had maintained about 75% of prescriptions from last year’s Walgreens-Express Scripts dispute. Prescription sales accounted for about 67.5% sales overall. Profit for the quarter was $89.7 million, compared with a $28.1 million loss in first quarter 2013.

 

The company expects fiscal 2014 sales of between $24.9 billion and $25.3 billion and profit of between $22 million and $162 million, as well as same-store sales 0.75% lower or 0.75% higher than fiscal year 2013.

 

 

 

Tennessee: Big Changes Could Be Coming To TN Bars On July 1st

 

Source: News Channel 5

by Chris Cannon

Jun 19th

 

Patrons of Tennessee restaurants that serve house-infused alcoholic beverages may not be able to purchase those drinks when the state starts enforcing a 2006 law next month.

 

The law prohibits restaurants from infusing alcohol with food products. It states that is a practice that can only be performed by a licensed distillery.

 

“They’re interpreting it to mean if you are a restaurant you can’t put fruit in vodka and infuse the flavor. And we just think that’s wrong,” according to Will Cheek, a food and beverage law expert.

 

Cheek contends the intention of the law was not to ban restaurants from taking part in the popular infusion method.

 

However, new director of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission plans to start enforcing the law, as the state interprets it, on July 1st.

 

Cheek has been in contact with his clients across the state who serve infused alcohol.

 

“So, everybody we’ve talked to, we’ve said, go ahead and phase it out,” Cheek said.

 

That means infused vodka, whiskey, even drinks like Sangria could disappear from drink menus across the state.

 

“We’re fighting this and we’re hoping the ABC will not enforce the law, to give us some time to talk to them about it, but right now they’ve said they’re going to enforce it starting July 1st,” said Cheek.

 

As he sees it, Cheek said this law will also crack down on pre-mixed drinks, or any other drink that is mixed and stored for any amount of time afterwards.

 

The attorney said the enforcement of the law could have an impact on tourism in Tennessee. Cheek contends the state is becoming known for high-end food and cocktails.

 

“So we’re going to lose some of the coolness factor that Tennessee’s had,” Cheek said.

 

Cheek said he, and others affected by this law, plan on taking the issue to Tennessee’s Capitol Hill.

 

“We’re working with the legislature, and we’re discussing with legislators changing the law to make it clear that you can pre-mix and infuse if you’re a restaurant.

 

However, it could be Spring of 2014 before any changes to state law could come about, until then, if enforcement is held up, infused drinks in Tennessee’s liquor by the drink establishments will end on July 1st.

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