GLOBAL: Pernod Ricard agrees Maxxium exit, partners re-jig venture

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Pernod Ricard is to take its newly-acquired Vin & Sprit brands, including Absolut vodka, out of the Maxxium Worldwide network next month, prompting a global re-organisation of the distribution venture.

Pernod will exit the venture from 1 October, Maxxium announced today (3 September). The deal follows the French giant's acquisition of Maxxium partner Vin & Sprit earlier this year.

Another partner, Remy Cointreau, said separately today that it had completed a severance deal to exit Maxxium at the end of March next year.

Both announcements were followed by news that Maxxium would be taken into a new distribution "alliance" between the venture's remaining two partners, The Edrington Group and Beam Global Spirits & Wine.

Pernod said it had agreed to pay EUR59m (US$85m) to take V&S brands, including Absolut, out of Maxxium from October. Remy said it had agreed to pay compensation of EUR224m. Both firms will also pay EUR60m each to Maxxium at the end of March next year.

From 1 April, Edrington and Beam will begin their new partnership. The two said they had agreed to take joint ownership of Maxxium businesses in ten markets, including UK, Russia, China and Spain.

Beam will then handle distribution for both firms in eight markets, including Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Canada, while Edrington will be responsible for Scandinavian markets, as well as Taiwan and Korea.

Covering 24 markets in all, the alliance will have combined annual sales of more than EUR750m, via brands such as Jim Beam and Maker's Mark, and Scotch whiskies The Famous Grouse and The Macallan, Maxxium Worldwide said.

Beam vice president Donard Gaynor and Edrington sales and marketing director Bill Farrar, both co-chairmen of the Maxxium executive committee, said: "In a consolidating drinks market, it is beneficial that we find innovative, cost-efficient routes-to-market and this alliance offers significant operational and market advantages."

It remained unclear whether job losses would be a consequence of the new alliance. Beam said: "Beam Global, Edrington and Maxxium are engaging in active information/consultation with Maxxium employees and their representatives where necessary as Pernod Ricard and Rémy-Cointreau exit from the sales and distribution joint venture."

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