In early-June, Brown-Forman reported results for its fiscal-2018. The group saw sales in the 12 months to the end of April rise by 6%, with fourth-quarter sales increasing by 5%. Here, just-drinks takes a closer look at the company's sales performance in the 12-month period.

Brown-Forman Fiscal-2018 - Sales versus 2017

Fourth Quarter694733
Third Quarter808878
Second Quarter830914
First Quarter661723

Source: Company results

After a disappointing fiscal-2017, when sales fell by 3%, employees at Brown-Forman will be in higher spirits today. With four consecutive quarters of growth, the 12 months have seen the group bounce back, with CEO Paul Varga describing the performance as "excellent".

"In fiscal-2018," he added, "(Brown-Forman) more than doubled fiscal-2017's rate of growth."

The US, with 47% of group sales, posted a top-line lift of 5%, with the mid-year launch of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Rye being described as "solid". The group's higher-end American whiskey SKUs are also having a good time in the country, with Woodford Reserve and Old Forester both delivering "strong" double-digit sales gains.

Beyond the US, and the company's other developed markets did well: Germany's sales were up 10%, Australia's increased 8% and France rose 6%. In Spain, where the company launched its own distribution platform in July last year, sales jumped by double digits.

The group's biggest emerging market, Mexico, was boosted by Tequila and Jack Daniel's portfolio sales - the country was up in the year by 12%. Russia and Brazil "experienced improved economic conditions" in fiscal-2018, delivering sales rises of 19% and 28%, respectively.

Meanwhile, in Global Travel Retail, a growing appetite among travellers for "super-premium Bourbons with heritage and authenticity" helped drive an 8% increase in sales for Brown-Forman.

Brown-Forman Fiscal-2018 - Brand Performance versus 2017

BrandVolumesOrganic Sales
Jack Daniel's Family+7%+6%
Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey+5%+4%
Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey+8%+9%
Jack Daniel's Tennessee Fire+14%+14%
Jack Daniel's RTD/RTP+9%+14%
Gentleman Jack+7%+7%
Woodford Reserve+23%+22%
El Jimador+8%+9%
All other brands+3%+2%
Other non-branded---+9%

Source: Company results

Turning to brands, and the Jack Daniel's stable - as ever - drove the group's performance. "Growth has been fueled by innovation," the company said, "including Jack Daniel's Cider in the UK, Jack Daniel's American Serve in Australia, Jack Daniel's Lynchburg Lemonade in Germany and Southern Peach Country Cocktails in the US. The Tennessee Fire variant benefitted from expanded roll-out to Brazil and Chile, as its growth also continued in the US.

The impressive growth rates at the higher end of Brown-Forman's American whiskey stable continued: Woodford Reserve saw its sales jump 22%, while Old Forester grew "at an even faster rate".

The Finlandia vodka brand credited Russia for its 5% lift in full-year sales. A new route-to-consumer in the country led to "higher realised prices" in fiscal-2018, the company said.

In Tequila, marketing activity in the US on- and off-premise channels helped drive a 9% rise in El Jimador sales, with both the US and Mexico posting double-digit sales lifts for Herradura. The brand's Tequila-based RTD extension, New Mix, jumped by double digits on distribution gains and innovation.

Brown-Forman Performance Trends 2013-2017 - results data

Expert analysis

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