Brown-Forman is best-known internationally as the maker of that quintessential spirit of the American South, Jack Daniel's. Its portfolio also includes a collection of other whiskies (Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Early Times and others) as well as Finlandia vodka, Herradura and El Jimador tequila and California's super-premium Sonoma-Cutrer wines. It is also the exclusive distributor of US-made Korbel champagne. Until 2016 it was also the home of another Southern class, Southern Comfort. For many years the family-controlled group also operated another division marketing fine china, crystal and other luxury goods. It took the decision in 2005 to focus on the drinks business, and sold off all its china and dinnerware brands. It has an international distribution partnership in some countries with Bacardi. However, its comparatively small size, and the global appeal of its lead brand, makes Brown-Forman a likely eventual target for a larger buyer, but only if the price is generous enough to sway its controlling shareholders, the Brown family. Jack Daniel's dominates the group's brand portfolio. It is the world's 4th largest premium spirits brand by both volumes and value, and the only one of the top five to have increased volume sales for each of the past five years. Impact estimated volumes of 13.3m cases in 2018 - accounting for more than half of Brown-Forman's group volumes- and value of $3.1bn. The main brand is accompanied by a sizeable family of variants such as the enormously popular Tennessee Honey (and other flavour spin-offs), premium Gentleman Jack and a collection of single-serve premixed RTDs. Tennessee Honey alone contributed an additional 1.8m cases sold, worth $475m at retail. Finlandia vodka is the group's next biggest brand at 3.0m cases, worth $610m. Lawson Whiting was appointed as group CEO in 2019. Net revenues for the year to Apr 2019 were $3.3bn with net income of $835m.
Capsule checked 11th December 2019
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Historical profile information for Brown-Forman
Adbrands Weekly Update 7th Jun 2018: Jack Daniel's owner Brown-Forman announced solid performance for its year ended April and forecast continued growth for the current period. Net sales rose 8% to $3.25bn on the back of strong global demand for American whiskey. The Jack Daniel's brand family reported 8% growth, led by variants Tennessee Fire and Tennessee Honey, while super-premium sidelines such as Woodford Reserve achieved almost three times that percentage lift. Despite the topline increase, net income slipped 23% to $110m, partly as a result of a one-off $70m contribution to a new charitable foundation.
Adbrands Weekly Update 31st May 2018: Paul Varga, CEO of spirits group Brown-Forman, which owns Jack Daniel's, will retire at the end of 2018. His successor will be Lawson Whiting, currently EVP & COO.
Adbrands Weekly Update 17th May 2018: Jack Daniel's owner Brown-Forman made several changes to its senior management team. Mark McCallum was promoted group EVP & chief brands officer, with oversight of all marketing. John Hayes, previously CMP, was promoted to SVP & president, USA & Canada; taking the place of Mike Keyes, who becomes SVP & chief corporate affairs officer.
Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Jun 2017: Days after rebuffing an approach from Constellation Brands, US spirits group Brown-Forman reported weaker financials for the year to April, but claimed strong underlying growth, especially from its flagship Jack Daniel's brand. Combined volumes of that brand family topped 16m cases for the first time, up 4% overall. Tennessee Honey was the strongest performer with volumes up by 6%. However, group revenues slipped 3%, falling just below $3.0bn, partly as a result of exchange rates but also the sale of Southern Comfort just over a year ago. Without the sizeable one-off gain from that disposal, net income slumped by more than a third to $669m.
Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Jun 2017: US wine and beer group Constellation Brands was reported to have made an approach to acquire its spirits-centric rival Brown-Forman, owner of Jack Daniel's and other brands. A combination of the two companies would create a global giant with combined sales of around $11bn, overtaking Pernod-Ricard (with approx $10bn). However, Brown-Forman apparently rebuffed the offer saying it is not for sale. Most of the remaining potential takeover targets in the global drinks market are family controlled, making unsolicited acquisitions hard or even impossible to pull off.
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