Damian McKinney’s relationship with the drinks industry dates back over 20 years. The former soldier – he spent 18 years in the Royal Marines – worked for seven years in an advisory capacity for Diageo around the turn of the Century before assuming the helm at Stolichnaya (now rebranded as Stoli) vodka brand owner Stoli Group just over a year ago. The company, owned by Russian businessman Yuri Shefler, has had a reputation for rapid staff turnover. Just Drinks had a lot of questions for McKinney.

Just Drinks thinks: Warm thanks to Damian for sparing an hour out of his busy schedule to talk to us. What shone through in our time together was how he’s transferred the organisational skills he picked up in the military to his approach to business. Much as our column-inch volumes of the Stoli Group merry-go-round have been high for several years, here’s one executive that looks unlikely to be getting off any time soon. [Editor Olly Wehring]

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In an industry full of new launches, one stands out – the launch of the Spirits Network in the UK; a relatively new video platform that provides subscribers with the opportunity to purchase products while watching content.

Does the wine world have an infinite capacity for novelty or are we already at peak diversity? Is stylistic/varietal uniqueness an advantage or a disadvantage? Can a strong national image overcome consumer hesitancy for the unfamiliar?

Business leaders are still worried about artificial intelligence (AI), but with Facebook pushing hard into the metaverse, augmented reality (AR) has also proven a massive concern for corporate chiefs.

Asia-Pacific was the fastest-growing region for Artificial Intelligence (AI) hiring among beverage companies in the third quarter of this year, according to research from GlobalData.

References to the term ‘robotics’ in filings from beverage companies rose 150% in the second quarter of 2021, compared to the three months prior, according to recent research.

In Just Drinks’ brand owners’ results coverage:

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners has raised its full-year sales guidance for 2021, despite posting a flat top-line in the third quarter of the year.

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners’ CFO has warned that an upcoming round of price increases will be higher than usual because of inflation.

Concha y Toro has been hit by the global supply chain crisis with export sales dragging the group’s quarterly performance into the red.

Supply chain issues and 2020’s high bar have moved Cuervo’s sales into the red in the third quarter of 2021 after the group posted an 8% slide in the three months to the end of September.

Just Drinks thinks: Two brand owners in different categories struggling with the same problem. The supply chain saga is one time where a brand’s strong provenance cues actually work as a disadvantage. Time to make Tequila in the US, eh? Oh. [Editor Olly Wehring]

A double-digit lift in third-quarter sales could have been even higher for Monster Beverage Corp, as external factors hampered attempts to satisfy consumers’ energy drinks demands.

Supply chain issues hampered Monster Beverage Corp from ensuring enough of its energy drinks reached consumers in the third quarter of this year.

On our news pages:

The Coca-Cola Co has appointed one marketing agency to handle its advertising globally in a shake-up of how the soft drinks giant reaches consumers.

Just Drinks thinks: “Increased marketing spend” has been an undercurrent running through several of Coca-Cola’s latest results announcements. Bringing all efforts under one roof, rather than 4,000, should improve efficiency for the soft drinks giant, whose corporate structure is complicated at best, as it looks to come out of the pandemic swinging. [Reporter Rhodri Morgan]

Beverage can producer Ball Corp is to charge its customers more amid near-unprecedented levels of cost inflation.

ProWein attendees are to return to Dusseldorf next year after organisers confirmed the 2022 edition of the trade fair will be held in person.

Treasury Wine Estates is to run out-of-home ads for Blossom Hill wine at an open-air screening of TV show Friends in the UK.

Just Drinks thinks: As lockdowns become (hopefully) less frequent, drinks brand owners are being pulled in two directions – to focus on the on- or the off-premise? This TWE-Comedy Central tie-up is a nice middle ground in a country where Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer et al remain very popular. The company didn’t specify, however, if umbrellas and ponchos will be provided. [Reporter Rhodri Morgan]

Kirin has lined up the purchase of US-based craft brewer Bell’s Brewery.

Amber Beverage Group, part of Stolichnaya vodka owner Stoli Group, has purchased Irish whiskey distiller Walsh Whiskey.

Diageo has commenced the worldwide roll-out of a new-look bottle for its Gordon’s gin brand.