Brown-Forman has restructured its distribution set up for Europe, entering into new agreements for its spirits brands in a number of countries, including Italy, Spain, and Germany. A distributor change will also be made in Russia.

"Following a comprehensive strategic review of the opportunities for our brands in Europe, Africa, and Eurasia, as well as an assessment of distribution options available to us, we have decided to implement new forward-looking distribution arrangements to help us accelerate the development of our brands in these important markets," said Owsley Brown II, chairman and chief executive officer of Brown-Forman.

In most European markets, Brown-Forman principally markets the Jack Daniel's family of brands, Southern Comfort, Finlandia Vodka, and Woodford Reserve.

Brown-Forman said that it will continue its long-term partnership with Bacardi in Germany under a  new arrangement whereby Brown-Forman will assume greater control over marketing and will be a full partner in marketplace brand-building activities. The company will also retain title to its products until just prior to when they are sold to the retail trade.

The company warned that this and other smaller changes are expected to result in a delay in revenue of about US$8m, which will be fully recognised in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005, which, as previously indicated by the company in its third quarter earnings release, will reduce reported earnings in the period by approximately US$0.04 per share.
 
In Italy, Brown-Forman will enter into a distribution agreement with Campari.

In Spain, Brown-Forman is appointing VIESA as its new distributor, which represents an end to its deal in the country with Bacardi.

"We are most appreciative of the fine job that Bacardi and its sales representatives have done for us in past years in Italy and Spain, but we are equally excited about the future of our brands under the new partnerships," stated J. Andrew Smith, president of Europe, Africa, and Eurasia for Brown-Forman Beverages.

Bacardi will become Brown-Forman's new distributor in Russia, replacing Trianon. "Our brands have great potential in Russia, and we believe Bacardi is an excellent partner to help us achieve success there," Smith said.

Brown-Forman reappointed W.S. Karoulias to represent the company's brands in Greece and Bacardi to represent Brown-Forman brands in France, Portugal, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark and several other European markets.

Brown said: "Bacardi has been an excellent partner in Brown-Forman's European development, and a strong relationship is important to both companies going forward."