Guinness Ireland Group is pleased to announce the appointment of The James Import Company, Hawthorne, New York as their new GUINNESS® licensed merchandise distributor for Irish and Celtic stores in the USA.

The appointment was announced recently by Mary O'Reilly, Global Trade Mark Controller, Guinness Ireland Group at the Celtic Market Place Trade Show in Chicago. The show is organized by the National American Celtic Buyers Association for the first time. The announcement is part of an overall GUINNESS® merchandise strategy, which is to be implemented globally over the next number of years. Its implementation in the US market is the first step of the new program.

The program will promote the significant development of GUINNESS® merchandise and will seek out new market, new product and new channel opportunities. The overall objectives of the program are to enhance the GUINNESS® stout brand, develop a successful global GUINNESS® merchandise business and provide Guinness admirers with quality merchandise, distinctively GUINNESS® branded, at accessible prices. Guinness plans to reach their audience through Irish and Celtic stores, expanding at a later stage to reach consumers through other retail channels and 'e' commerce.

The United States market is of vital importance to the global development of the GUINNESS® stout brand and Guinness Ireland Group have identified enormous potential for GUINNESS® branded merchandise in the United States.

The range of merchandise now available includes textiles, giftware and accessories and will be enhanced further in early 2001 by the addition of more products including bags, stationary, watches and jewelry. Guinness selected The James Import Company as their marketing partner after an extensive competitive review. The James Import Company has been in operation for 8 years and is the largest importer and distributor of Irish consumer foods in the USA, carrying a product range of over 1,000 items and supplying many channels including supermarkets, delicatessens, specialty food shops, restaurants, bars, hotels and gift stores. The company, based in Hawthorne, New York also has representation in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.

In 1997, The James Import Company successfully acquired Walton Music, Inc., the US subsidiary of the Dublin based Waltons, which in Ireland is a household name known for music instrument making and music publishing since 1922.

Sean James, CEO of The James Import Company is very excited about their recent GUINNESS® distributorship appointment and said, "We are delighted about this great opportunity and are looking forward to going into partnership with a company as prestigious as Guinness. We are confident that the high quality GUINNESS® merchandise will meet a strong demand among both Americans and Irish Americans for genuine merchandise from the famous brand."

Sean, an Irish native from Ballina, Co. Mayo, has been a recipient of various business/media honors in New York in recent years and was most notably awarded the Irish Business Organization, "Businessperson of the Year" in October 1999.