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Brown-Forman targets non-US growth for Jack Daniel's range - CEO

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Brown-Forman's CEO has cooled talk of introducing new flavours to the Jack Daniel's whiskey range, saying the existing extensions "still have a lot of gold to be mined" outside of the US.

Paul Varga said Jack Daniel's advantage comes from its "fewer flavours but broader geography" and he warned against following trends for more flavours that saw categories such as vodka experience so-called flavour fatigue.

"I don't expect us to introduce multiple flavours at one time, or what people call the flavour of the month," Varga said. "I see them [our existing flavours] as Jack Daniel's extensions."

Varga was speaking after the release of H1 results yesterday in which the Jack Daniel's range continued to post strong underlying growth. A 14% increase in underlying Tennessee Honey sales was driven by growth outside of the US, according to Brown-Forman.

Varga said the rise in demand for North American whiskey in overseas markets has become an important part of the US distilled spirits industry and still had a long runway for growth. 

"There is a lot of gold to be mined outside of the US," the CEO said. "That doesn't mean we don't have to compete in US, but I still continue to believe that we have an advantage, because of the strength of the Jack Daniel's trademark and route to consumers around the world, in developing beyond just one country."

According to the Wall Street Journal, about 60% of Brown-Forman's sales come from overseas.

Varga also said he was encouraged by a new marketing campaign for Southern Comfort that he claimed had found early viral success. According to Varga, the music video push, featuring actor Danny McBride, is one of the top ten viral efforts in the US. He said it had reached other markets too.

"[Southern Comfort] will continue to get support and we will put our best foot forward for it," Varga said.

The Southern Comfort range has continued to face challenges in the global market, ending the first half of this year down 7% in volumes and underlying sales. In September, Brown-Forman declined to comment on a report it is looking to sell Southern Comfort along with other liqueurs in its portfolio.


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