James Wilmore

The beverage business blog from James Wilmore

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Fuller's... kind of like the Murdoch empire

05 Apr 2013 15:21

Listeners to BBC Radio 4's Today programme may have choked on their cornflakes this morning as presenter Simon Jack compared Fuller's to the Murdoch empire. 

Jack was referring to the similiarity in ownership structure between the two. 

Michael Turner, who is taking a back seat as head of the London-based brewer and pub company from July, also discussed the win for beer in last month's UK Budget and the thorny issue of minimum pricing. 

The interview can be heard here.

Follow me on Twitter @jamescwilmore 

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George Osborne helps beer campaigners celebrate Budget

28 Mar 2013 17:01

A drinks gathering in a London pub this week will have done little to quell the fury of wine and spirits producers, following last week's UK Budget

None other than the Chancellor himself rocked-up for a pint to help the UK's pub and brewing fraternity celebrate his (or may be David Cameron's?) decision to scrap the duty escalator on beer and offer an extra tax cut. 

Photographic evidence here

With the Wine & Spirit Trade Association still pondering legal action over George Osborne's singling out of beer, and the Scotch Whisky Association branding it an “unfair and incomprehensible blow”, I'm sure this gathering will have gone down like the proverbial metal inflatable with this section of the industry.

Cue bottles of Pinot and single malt Scotch being sent to 11 Downing Street? Possibly. 

Follow me on Twitter @jamescwilmore

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just-drinks at ProWein

22 Mar 2013 10:44

It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it. I'll be among the wine and spirits trade fraternity at ProWein, in Dusseldorf, Germany, on Monday. 

If you're a publicity-hungry producer, or want to find out more about the wonderful world of just-drinks, feel free to collar me for a chat. 

Alternatively, email: james.wilmore@just-drinks.com 

Cheers. 

Follow me on Twitter @jamescwilmore

 

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Innocent co-founder discusses sale to Coca-Cola Co

25 Feb 2013 10:38

Could this be the end of an era? The founders of UK smoothie maker Innocent revealed on Friday that they are effectively giving up ownership of the firm to the Coca-Cola Co.

Richard Reed confirmed that he and his fellow Innocent co-founders will step down from running the company on a "day-to-day basis". But, the smoothie maker will still be run by "Innocent people", he said. 

The UK group first sold a stake to Coca-Cola in 2009

Reed has recorded a video message about the deal, which can be viewed below.

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Is SABMiller's CEO a secret Frank Zappa fan?

21 Feb 2013 11:58

Does Graham Mackay, SABMiller's outgoing top man, have a secret penchant for the late American jazz-rock musician and producer Frank Zappa?

This may seem an odd question to pose. But, the reason I ask is that Mackay treated his (I'm guessing slightly bemused) audience at the CAGNY conference this week to some wisdom from the 60's avant-gardist.

At one point in his presentation, the CEO produced a slide with this Zappa-attributed quote: “You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.”

Mackay's point was that SABMiller aims to take a local approach in its overseas ventures.

As the slide appeared, Mackay said: “Of course we all feel deeply what the sage on the screen expressed.”

And then, with a wistful air, he added: “There was a man not troubled by self-doubt: You can tell by looking at his moustache.”

Perhaps, then, when Mackay finally hangs up his pinstripes, he'll spend his days nodding along to the likes of Freak Out! And Sheikh Yerbouti. 

There's an image for you.

Follow me on Twitter @jamescwilmore

 

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Beam bigs up Courvoisier, Napoleon links

19 Feb 2013 16:20

The links between Napoleon Bonaparte and Beam-owned Cognac brand Courvoisier may be questioned by some, but this hasn't stopped the company launching a limited-edition of the brand for travel retail.

First unveiled in OctoberCourvoisier Le Voyage de Napoleon will officially hit the shelves at the World Duty Free store exclusively at London Heathrow's Terminal 5 from tomorrow (20 February). It will roll-out across the rest of Europe from April.

Apparently, Napoleon looked for only one quality in his generals: to be lucky. You can discover other such historical nuggets in this official Courvoisier video below:  

 

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Carlsberg catches up on low-strength lager trend

14 Feb 2013 17:38

Carlsberg has today revealed its hand in the battle over low-abv beers in the UK. 

The Danish brewer's first new launch into the 2.8% and below category is a citrus version of its namesake lager called, imaginatively, Carlsberg Citrus. I guess it does what it say on the tin. (Incidentally, the brewer lowered the abv of its Skol brand to 2.8% in 2011, but Citrus is its first new launch in the category).  

This trend in the UK towards new low-strength beers, Molson Coors has Carling Zest (2.8%), A-B InBev has Rolling Rock (2.8%), is for three main reasons.

Partly to offer health-conscious consumers more choice. 

Partly to fulfil a pledge to remove a a billion units of alcohol from products per year by December 2015, as part of the government's responsibility deal. 

But also, and perhaps as tellingly, it makes business sense. The goverment cut duty rates on beers at 2.8% and below back in 2011, as a way to "tackle problem drinking by encouraging industry to produce, and drinkers to consume, lower-strength beers". 

Carlsberg points to Nielsen figures in its press blurb today showing that the lower- strength beer category is growing 50% year-on-year. 

A government policy that's boosting profits and helping public health? Well fancy that.  

Follow me on Twitter @jamescwilmore

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Vinexpo boss elicits a press pack w(h)ine

06 Feb 2013 13:03

English wines may still be struggling for worldwide recognition, but you would think news of their existence would have reached France by now.

Apparently not. 

Vinexpo chief executive Robert Beynat upset members of the trade press pack yesterday in London, during a presentation on global wine and spirit trends.

Introducing a table on global per capita wine consumption, Beynat noted that the UK, in tenth place, was "the only non-producing country in the top ten". Cue much spluttering from the assembled hacks. Indeed, one scribe was forced to point out to the Vinexpo chief that his statement was clearly false.

Beynat acknowledged his error with a grin. 

The 64-year-old exhibition boss lists his hobbies as "watching bullfighting", so he should be accustomed to a bit of rough-and-tumble.

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Are we in for a tweet? Budweiser takes to Twitter

28 Jan 2013 17:26

Anheuser-Busch InBev has finally decided to embrace that new-fangled website known as Twitter. 

We've been scratching our heads here for a while over the brewer's lack of activity on the social media site. One official account - ABInBevPR has yet to speak to the world, while another, ABInBevNews, has only attracted 259 followers in its five-month existence. 

Compare this to Heineken's 55,000-odd followers

But now, Budweiser has its own official account, which went live yesterday. It all ties in with the brewer's promotional activity around this weekend's Super Bowl.

However, this morning's press release trumpeting the Twitter account gives a clue to A-B InBev's reticence, explaining that Twitter has now introduced an age verification tool.

Although, I appeared to be able to follow the feed without confirming my age.

Perhaps they just knew?

Follow me on Twitter @jamescwilmore

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George Clooney: Tequila or no Tequila?

16 Jan 2013 16:13

Celebrities and drinks brands. They're not always a happy marriage as Diageo and Pharrell Williams have illustrated this week

But actor, and general Hollywood dude, George Clooney must be hoping for better luck with the launch this month of his own Tequila, Casamigos. And to boost interest in the drink, made from 100% Blue Weber agave, old George has come up with his own advert. 

The question we're asking ourselves here at just-drinks is: had Mr Clooney been sampling his own product when he dreamt up the idea? 

Judge for yourselves below... 

Follow me on Twitter @jamescwilmore


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