Spirits groups Beam Suntory and Edrington have sold their Maxxium Russia venture to the business’ management.

The companies said they had been weighing up the future of the venture after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“After suspending shipments to Russia following the invasion of Ukraine in early March, we began reviewing approaches to the future of the Russia business,” Beam Suntory said in a statement.

“We determined that the best way to exit the market was through a sale of the Russia joint venture to the local management team, and we wish our respected former colleagues the best with the future direction of the company.”

Edrington made a similar statement. Both businesses said exports to Russia will remain on hold. “Shipments from Edrington to Russia will remain suspended for the foreseeable future,” an Edrington spokesperson said.

Russia was the last market where the companies jointly owned a distribution business. A year ago, Beam Suntory and Edrington swapped stakes in two other co-owned Maxxium ventures, one in the UK and the other in Spain.

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The Maxxium partnership was created in 1999 along with Remy Cointreau and, two years later, then Absolut owner Vin & Sprit. Remy Cointreau quit the partnership in 2009 while Sweden’s Vin & Sprit, which owned the Absolut vodka brand, left shortly after its 2008 takeover by Pernod Ricard. Vin & Sprit had been with Maxxium since 2001.

Neither Beam Suntory nor Edrington gives specific sales for individual markets. However, in February, when Beam Suntory announced its 2021 financial results, the company said its sales in Russia grew at a “double-digit” rate that year. Global sales rose 11%, although the Suntory subsidiary did not provide an actual sales number.

In the year to 31 March 2022, Edrington generated a 45% rise in “core revenue” to GBP821.2m (US$984.3m). The company said that represented growth of 22% on the pre-pandemic 2019/2020 financial year.

Spirits’ fallout from Russia’s attack on Ukraine – comment