just-drinks.com editor's weekly highlights
In This Issue...
Champagne corks were popping last week after it was announced that one of the most famous names in the region was to remain in family hands.
Last week, French bank Crédit Agricole finally bought Taittinger after a long-running and closely fought auction in a deal worth around EUR660m (US$846m). The bank was understood to have teamed up with Taittinger family members including Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, the firm’s deputy managing director and grandson of the company’s founder.
Crédit Agricole’s bid for Taittinger trumped seven other offers, including one from India’s UB Group. The Indian press bemoaned France’s “economic patriotism” for scuppering the UB bid, while a company spokesperson labelled the winning bid as “crazy”.
True, France has, let’s say, closely protected its companies from foreign predators. Think back to last year when the French government called for drinks and dairy group Danone to remain in French hands after rumours that PepsiCo was to table a hostile bid.
However, in the case of Taittinger, union officials were right to voice their concern over a successful UB bid. It had little to do with nationality but more to do with the Indian group’s complete lack of experience overseas, let alone in Champagne. True, the company has built a robust brewing and spirits empire in India but aside from a distillery in Nepal, UB does not have a presence abroad and it would have been a gamble to say the least for it to own the world’s sixth-largest Champagne house as its first significant overseas asset.
Talking of gambles, one August day in 1998, three enterprising university chums Richard Reed, Adam Balon and Jon Wright spent GBP500 (US$933) on fruit, made some smoothies and took them to a jazz festival in London.
They erected a sign saying: “Do you think we should give up our day jobs to make these smoothies?” and provided, one ‘yes’ and one ‘no’ bin for the empty bottles. The ‘yes’ bin was full – and so began the journey of the UK’s leading smoothie company innocent.
The company – and eponymous brand – has enjoyed phenomenal success thanks to the huge “five-a-day” concept here in the UK. And with soft drinks giants now eyeing innocent’s success with interest – Coca-Cola Enterprises, for example, has high hopes for its Minute Maid Froot Refresh range – the trend sees no signs of slowing.
Staying on the gambling theme, one lucky punter this week won our competition – in association with Budweiser – for two tickets to see England play the mighty Trinidad & Tobago in the FIFA World Cup on 15 June. Congratulations to James Sanderson of Constellation Europe.
For more on the Taittinger sale, visit:
For more on the rise of innocent, visit:
Until next time...
Olly Wehring, Managing Editor
An offbeat and laid-back style belies a clearly focused and steely approach to brand marketing at the UK’s leading smoothie company innocent which has taken the soft drinks market by storm. Annette Farr spoke with co-founder Richard Reed about the brand’s phenomenal success and plans for the future.
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