Suntory advertising & marketing assignments

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Suntory of Japan is best-known as a leading beverage producer, controlling an extensive collection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The company first introduced whisky into Japan in the 1930s, and now controls some 70% of the huge domestic market. Its own portfolio includes 20 locally produced brands and their various variants. The most important of these is Kakubin, now one of the top 30 premium spirits globally with volumes of 5.1m cases in 2020 (Impact), and retail value of $950m. Others include Hibiki, Yamazaki, Zen, Royal and Buraiha. Its second biggest international brand is the melon flavoured liqueur Midori. The group also has a major presence in sho-chu, a form of distilled spirit made from fermented rice, barley or sweet potato. Top brand is Kyogetsu. In addition, Suntory is a major importer and distributor of wine in Japan, with brands including Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Margaux, E&J Gallo, Freixenet, Perrier-Jouet and Mumm. It entered the beer market in the 1960s but still lags well behind market leaders Asahi and Kirin with around 16% share. Its full-malt brands include The Premium Malt's and MD Magnum Dry, but Suntory's strongest suit is in low-malt happoshu and no-malt "new genre" products (both of which it invented). No-malt Kin-Mugi is its single biggest beer-type brand by volumes. Since the late 2000s, Suntory has devoted much of its attention to developing a strong global profile through a series of increasingly ambitious acquisitions. Several of these were in soft drinks, establishing Suntory Beverage & Food as a major force in Australasia and Europe. However, the biggest development by far was an agreement to absorb US spirits giant Beam Inc at the beginning of 2014 to create Beam Suntory. That deal catapulted Suntory into the leaders' enclosure among premium spirits companies. The group also has a huge portfolio of other interests ranging from food (including the Japanese license for Haagen-Dazs ice cream) to pharmaceuticals to resort development, and owns traditional Japanese-style restaurants in 17 major cities around the globe. Suntory is even Japan's biggest producer and distributor of fresh cut flowers. Nobutada Saji, grandson of the company's founder, is chairman of Suntory Group, and the founding family control around 90% of the group's equity. He relinquished the role of group president in summer 2014 to Takeshi Niinami. Group revenues were around $20.4bn in 2020 (Y2,108bn). Alcoholic beverages accounted for just over a third of that total. Japan still contributes 58% of total revenues.

Capsule checked 14th September 2021

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Who are the competitors of Suntory? See Wine Beer & Spirits Sector for other companies

Historical profile information for Suntory

Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 26th Jun 2014: Family-controlled Japanese drinks group Suntory chose an outsider as its next CEO for the first time. Members of the founding family have led the group for its 115-year history to-date. Now, Takeshi Niinami, a Japanese-born but Harvard-educated executive, will succeed Nobutada Saji as group president next month. For the past decade he has headed Japanese convenience store group Lawson (a unit of Mitsubishi), and has been selected for his wider international experience. Suntory has established a strong presence in recent years in Western markets through acquisitions including Orangina Schweppes, Lucozade energy drinks and the Beam spirits group.

Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Jan 2014: Watch out drinks companies; the Japanese are coming! Suntory precipitated a seismic shake-up of the established order among global drinks groups by announcing an agreed deal to acquire US giant Beam Inc for $13.6bn (or $16bn including debt). That will add Jim Beam, Courvoisier cognac and Pinnacle vodka and others to Suntory's existing collection of mainly Japanese whiskies. The news came only days after completion of the Japanese group's takeover of GSK's Lucozade and Ribena soft drinks. The Beam deal - the biggest-ever in the global spirits industry - remains subject to regulatory and shareholder approval but is thought likely to go through smoothly. Suntory and Beam have already negotiated a sizeable break-up penalty as part of the deal, making it unlikely that a rival offer will emerge. Their combination will create the world's third largest premium spirits company by volume ahead of Bacardi, though still behind Diageo and Pernod-Ricard. Combined pro forma volumes are around 54m cases annually. The two groups are already partners in Japan and other Asian markets with reciprocal distribution deals. The current Beam management team led by CEO Matt Shattock will continue to manage the merged group's international operations from the US.

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