Is Pernod Ricard looking to offload Becherovka?

Is Pernod Ricard looking to offload Becherovka?

Earlier this week, reports broke that Pernod Ricard is looking to sell its Becherovka Czech liqueur brand.

Here's a list of facts about Becherovka:

  • Created in 1807 in the Bohemian spa town of Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad in German), Becherovka is positioned as a digestif liqueur. It has an abv of 38%.
  • The recipe for the product, which comprises a blend of around 32 macerated plants and spices, is a secret, known by only two employees at the Becherovka factory.
  • Created by Josef Vitus Becher, the brand is owned by local company Jan Becher, which in turn is owned by Pernod Ricard.
  • While the product is consumed neat, it is also popular in mixed drinks in Czech, such as with tonic, cola or juice. It is the second largest bitters brand in Czech.
  • Having secured a 30% stake in Jan Becher-Karlovka Becherovka, Pernod was first in line when, in 1997, the Czech Government announced its intention to privatise its 59% stake in the company.
  • Pernod found itself in a legal battle in 1998, when local entrepreneur Zdenek Hoffmann claimed that he had inherited the recipe and the right to make Becherovka. Hoffman proceeded to produce Original Johann Becher in neighbouring Slovakia. Hoffmann was taken to court and lost in 2007.
  • In 2001, the Government reversed its privatisation decision, albeit temporarily: Pernod was granted approval to acquire the rest of the company in November of the same year.
  • Becherovka is grouped in Pernod's “Local Brands” stable.
  • According to The IWSR, Becherovka's volume sales in its domestic market fell in 2012, by 10.2% year-on-year. The total Czech bitters category, which is led by Stock Spirits' Stock Bitters brand, was down by 17.5% in volume terms in 2012.
  • From 2007 to 2012, The IWSR estimates that Becherovka's CAGR (compound annual growth rate) in Czech was -4%.
  • Total sales of Becherovka (Czech accounts for 54% of the spirits' sales) hit 685.5m nine-litre cases in 2012, a 6.1% decrease on the prior year.
  • The brand is exported to 40 countries, the biggest markets being Ukraine, Slovakia, Russia and Germany.

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