Focus - Beam Brands That Hit The Mark in 2012

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Beam Inc delivered a robust set of full-year results on Friday, but what was happening behind the numbers? Here, just-drinks takes a look at the company's brands that have hit the mark, and those that are behind the curve.



  • Strong global Bourbon sales were good news for the flagship Jim Beam brand (about 20% of overall global sales), as well as for fellow Kentuckian Maker's Mark, which posted a 15% increase in year-on-year sales after a 14% increase last year. The brand has benefited from a programme, started in 2011, to increase its production, and Beam said it is confident of healthy growth in 2013 and beyond. The company has been trying since at least 2009 to reduce Maker's Mark's reliance on the US market, and the strategy is now paying off. “We believe America's native spirit has a bright future around the world,” Beam said.
  • Beam is proud of the success of its Skinnygirl acquisition and enjoys talking about the brand's impressive sales growth. Friday's results proved no different and Skinnygirl's 19% year-on-year sales jump was the highlight of Beam's 'Rising Stars' portfolio. The firm deserves to be congratulated for the work it has done on Skinnygirl since it took it over in March 2011. Back then, it was a ready-to-drink cocktail - now the brand encompasses four flavoured vodka variants and three wines with a ready-to-serve mojito about to join. Last year, Beam's EMEA president, Albert Baladi, told just-drinks he is aware of the brand's overseas potential. Will Skinnygirl be on her travels in 2013?
  • Pinnacle is another successful Beam buy, and in its seven months under Beam ownership increased sales by 19% year-on-year. The firm said it expects growth to continue this year and has already made significant structural changes to the brand, including preparing to move its production site to Kentucky. The release of a Pumpkin Pie flavour proves Beam is not slowing down its vodka extensions, and Beam CEO Matt Shattrock even said Pinnacle, which accounts for about 9% of Beam's overall sales, is now the trendsetter in the flavour race. “I think it's a trend which will continue to drive a lot of growth, and we'll tap into it going forward,” he said.


  • Part of Pinnacle's growth is down to the heightened marketing activity around it, including a new TV campaign. But, while Pinnacle is blossoming under the spotlight, one of Beam's other (albeit much smaller) vodka brands, Effen, has suffered from neglect. Effen saw sales fall 22% year-on-year as Beam focused elsewhere.
  • Scotch brand Teacher's may have posted a 1% year-on-year sales rise, but it has troubles of a different kind. It is the top-selling whisky in India and the Beam brand with the most to lose from allegations of financial misconduct in the country. just-drinks understands that Beam has scaled down operations in India since the allegations were reported, and is cautious over doing business with distributors while an internal investigation is ongoing. The allegations date from October and, as Beam CFO Bob Probst said on Friday it is still too early to speculate on the damage caused. Expect Teacher's to bear the brunt of a fallout that could continue through most of the year. 

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