Olly Wehring

The beverage business blog from Olly Wehring

If you would like to offer your comments, opinions, suggest topics or just have a good rant, please feel free to email: Olly Wehring.

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What time is it? I DON'T CARE!

24 Nov 2005 14:33

Ah, what a great day to be a Brit. Today, 24 November 2005, finally sees the introduction of new legislation which, among other things, affects the hours our pubs can close at. The compulsory closing of Britain’s boozers at 11pm – originally introduced in the run-up to World War I to ensure factory workers weren’t drunk at work – has given way to the possibility of 24-hour drinking in these fair isles.

After a media frenzy unlike anything I’ve seen in all my days, and a last-ditch attempt to scupper the legislation by various pressure groups, the police and Her Majesty’s Opposition, I can now walk into my local, any time I like, and ask for “a pint of best, please, landlord.”

What this will result in for the nation’s binge-drinkers remains to be seen – blood on the streets? Less violence? A lager drought? In the short-term, the situation may, indeed, get worse before it gets better. But at least now, I, as one of the majority of responsible adults who enjoy drinking in moderation, am finally in a position to drink what I like, when I like. And that can only be a good thing.

So, tonight, I will raise my glass to you, my dear reader, at whatever time I see fit.

A happy, happy day.

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Cadbury looks sweet after drinks sales

24 Nov 2005 09:53

Having confirmed as recently as September that it was looking to offload its European Beverage unit, Cadbury Schweppes confirmed this week that it has sold its business to a consortium led by Blackstone Group International and Lion Capital LLP for EUR1.85bn (US$2.17bn).

Although this sale had been widely expected prior to Cadbury Schweppes’s official confirmation almost three months ago, the speed in which a buyer has been found impressed even the company’s CEO. “I am delighted that within such a short time we have achieved a firm offer for Europe Beverages,” Todd Stitzer said. And with estimates early this year pricing the unit at US$2bn, Stitzer was also suitably “delighted” at what he got for it.

The price, at around 9.5 times the unit's forecast EBITDA for 2005, is just ahead of many analyst estimations and above recent transactions in the soft drinks sector - the UK soft drinks group Britvic is expected to float next month at 7.5 times.

However, the threat as late as last week that PepsiCo might enter into the fray and drive the asking price up will surely mean Blackstone/Lion will settle for what they had to pay for such a quick deal. The questions now are what next for Cadbury and how will Blackstone/Lion fair with its new purchase?

Lyndon Lea, founding partner of Lion Capital, the former European arm of US-based Hicks Muse Tate & Furst, believes the acquisition will close early next year. And she was quoted saying she expected to hold on to the company for three to five years, investing in marketing and innovation – all good news for the brands and the sector.

Cadbury, meanwhile, is now free to pay down some of its debt and concentrate on its more successful confectionary and Dr Pepper/Seven Up businesses. However, the divestment of the under-performing European subsidiary may now make it more attractive to potential takeover attempts - commentators are already suggesting the mighty US group Kraft may take an interest.

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Uncool is the new cool - hopefully

17 Nov 2005 16:19

A trip into the Big Smoke (that’s London town) on Tuesday, to an event that, while promoting brands that were cool, left me feeling a tad out of touch with the young folk of today. It’s official – coolness has finally left me.

The CoolBrands CoolLife event was a celebration of the 100 brands that have been dubbed ‘cool,’ by an independent panel of dudes, no doubt. “CoolBrands are brands that have become extremely desirable among many leaders and influencers,” the blurb says. “They have a magic about them signifying that users have an exceptional sense of taste and style.”

So, heartiest congratulations to the following drinks companies, for being cool in 2005: Asahi, Budweiser Budvar, Campari, Cobra Beer, Coca-Cola, Guinness, Havana Club, Hoegaarden, Stella Artois, and mein hosts, Tiger Beer.

The evening included the Campari Red Passion Burlesque Bar, with beds for relaxation; the De’Longhi sound kitchen mixing VJs and DJs; the Dermalogica face mapping station; the Tiger Beer martial arts screening room and stila make-up touch-ups through-out the night. Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?

I only lasted an hour – far too bright, far too loud, far too cool.

Comments on this blog post

Here in Romania "cool" becomes a second nature. At least it is "the most wanted" by the young people and, especially, by those who want to look young in the eyes of the others. I was surprised to see how much some well positioned people "need" to be cool. If you discover any means to stop this, let me know. All this in a country in which Metaxa is known as a "cognac", and any sparkling wine are "champagne". Unfortunately, a country in which we produce some pretty good wines and should know better "what is and what should never be when" it comes down to alcohol. Is this "coolness" behind the trend of abandoning the old "cognac" in favor of the colorless tasteless wine distillates used in the new emerging "cocktail culture"? If the answer is yes, let me know that too. Is just another reason for fighting against "coolness". I just (funny word) turned 40 on November 21. Too bright, too loud and too cool is too much for me too. Am I getting old? Let me know that too. ...if I wasn't asking too much See you on the blog. Ovidiu Ghitan PS I know just-drinks from just-auto. I am a journalist involved with the automotive industry in Romania. Excuse my English, please.

 

Ovidiu Ghitan, Romania

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We're new here, so stop fighting, you lot.

15 Nov 2005 15:50

And so, a new week, a new editor (hopefully that turnover will be less frequent) and two new acquisition rows that look set to dominate the just-drinks headlines for the weeks ahead.

First things first, however. A big hello to you all from me, Olly Wehring, your new editor, and Dean Best, our newly-appointed news editor. As Chris Brook-Carter makes his way upstairs with a box-full of memories and his fluffy gonk, it leaves Dean and I to fill his warm seat. Having spent the last two years as news editor with just-drinks, I hope to keep things running as efficiently as usual, although do feel free to let me know at any time how things out there are looking. Just click reply, and come and say hi (I should be in marketing).

Meanwhile, on the other side of the World…

Lion Nathan’s attempts to buy up the family-owned Coopers Brewery in Australia has prompted a strong attack from the brewer. Last week, Coopers suggested that Lion was resorting to “desperate” moves to buy it, while putting pressure on any person involved in the takeover battle. “The level of hysteria from (Lion’s managing director) Robert Murray seems to increase daily,” claimed Coopers’ MD, Tim Cooper.

And in the US, Constellation upped the ante late last week in its bid to buy Vincor. In a lively conference call, CEO Richard Sands accused the Vincor board of not working in the best interests of shareholders, while suggesting the Canadian-based company was changing the rules as it goes along. “They (Vincor’s board) will not give us the (company) information unless we give them a firm offer at a price that we don’t know what it is,” he said.

With stories like this on the go in my first week in charge, it looks like a rollercoaster introduction to the big league for me.

Now, if I could just find my Snoopy doll.

Comments on this blog post

Good luck Olly and Chris. just-drinks.com remains in good hands. As an avid reader of the news on the site I look forward to little change but the tunrover in stories and reports. A toast to you...with Jacob's Creek sparkling of course.

 

tim sauer, Australia

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