The firm is now the US number three beer player

The firm is now the US' number three beer player

It's been five years since Constellation Brands offloaded a large chunk of its spirits interests by selling its “value” portfolio to Sazerac Company for US$334m.

The move signalled the start of a major reshaping of the company as more divestments followed and its focus on premium brands increased.

The 2009 deal with Sazerac saw Constellation sell the brands Barton, Skol, Mr. Boston, Fleischmann's, the 99 schnapps line, the di Amore line, Chi-Chi's pre-mixed cocktail line and Montezuma Tequila. However, it retained Svedka vodka, Black Velvet Canadian whisky and Paul Masson Grande Amber Brandy. 

The following year, it was the cider category that Constellation decided it wanted to soften its presence in. The New York state-headquartered firm completed on a deal to sell its UK cider business Gaymer Cider Co to C&C Group for GBP45m (US$75m). 

In 2011, another major change followed as Constellation sold its Australian and UK wine operations, including Hardys, to private equity group CHAMP for AUD290m (US$290m). The business was subsequently renamed Accolade Wines.

And last year, the group upped its interest in beer in a significant way by taking control of Crown Imports, the US JV it had operated with Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo since 2006. The deal, in the the wake of Anheuser-Busch InBev's acquisition of Modelo, means Constellation has full control of the Mexican brewer's US operations and ownership of one of its breweries.  

Today, the group boasts it is the number three player in the US beer market and the world's number one "premium" wine producer.

Here's to the next five years, then.

To read an exclusive just-drinks interview with Constellation's CEO, Rob Sands, click here