Its a case of musical chairs for Beam Inc and Brown-Forman in Japan

It's a case of musical chairs for Beam Inc and Brown-Forman in Japan

Suntory has confirmed that it will up its distribution of Beam Inc's spirits brands in Japan, but will drop Brown-Forman.

The Japanese company said earlier today (19 September) that it will begin distributing Jim Beam and Maker's Mark in the country from 4 January. The two brands, which had previously been handled by Asahi, join the rest of Beam's brands at Suntory, as the US company looks to consolidate its footprint in Japan.

The news coincided with a statement from Brown-Forman, also issued today, saying that it will move its Japanese distribution in the other direction, from Suntory to Asahi Group, from 1 January.

Brown-Forman said that the move follows an announcement by Suntory that stated that the two companies are “concluding their more than 40-year business relationship at the conclusion of the current contract” at the end of this year.

“Our Jack Daniel’s and Early Times brands are two of the largest selling international whiskey brands in Japan,” said Mark McCallum, chief operating officer for Brown-Forman. “In partnership with Asahi, we see significant growth potential for these brands as well as the rest of our strong brand portfolio.”

Brown-Forman has a relationship with Asahi in Australia, where the Japanese firm owns the Schweppes Company that serves as co-packer for the Brown-Forman's RTD brands.

Suntory is set to launch “a total of 26 items from 10 brands” in Japan on 4 January. Only Beam and Maker's Mark were named, however.

To read Brown-Forman's statement, click here.

To read Suntory's statement, click here.