Brown-Forman has confirmed the termination of two marketing agreements in the US.

The company said yesterday (7 January) that its collaborations with Wray & Nephew and Distell Group in the country are both set to end in the first half of this year. Brown-Forman noted, however, that the decisions are unrelated, concluding six-year relationships between the company and Wray & Nephew and Distell.

Brown-Forman has handled the marketing and selling of Wray & Nephew's Appleton, Corumba and namesake rums in the US since October 2001. The arrangement terminates in April, or until Wray & Nephew reaches agreement with a new importing partner.

Under the agreement with Distell, Brown-Forman has marketed and sold Amarula cream liqueur and Durbanville Hills wines in the US and the Caribbean, and Durbanville Hills wines in the UK. Distell and Brown-Forman introduced Amarula in the US in October 2001. Beginning in March Amarula and Durbanville Hills wines will be distributed in the US by A.V. Brands, based in Columbia, Maryland.

"We are proud of the growth of the Appleton rum brands under Brown-Forman's stewardship and of our accomplishments on Amarula cream liqueur over the last six years," said Brown-Forman's CEO, Paul Varga. "We feel that each of the brands is stronger today then when we began our work, and also believe they are positioned well for further development.

"We wish both Wray & Nephew and Distell well in their future efforts and thank our employees and distributor partners for their excellent work on behalf of these brands."

Lascelles deMercado & Co, the parent company of Wray & Nephew, is the current subject of a friendly bid for a major stake from Angostura Holdings. The Jamaica-based company said today that Brown-Forman's move "does not signal any intention to consolidate J. Wray & Nephew's arrangements in the US with those of Angostura".

"Wray & Nephew will seek the right fit to continue to build its premium rums in the US market," Lascelles said.