Monday, January 30, 2012

Florida International University (FIU) Has Named Its Hospitality School the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management

(by Shanken News Daily) Florida International University (FIU) has named its hospitality school the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, honoring Southern Wine & Spirits’ chairman and CEO Harvey Chaplin and family. “Southern Wine & Spirits and the Chaplin family are passionate supporters of FIU and the superior hospitality management education we offer,” said FIU President Mark Rosenberg. “This naming recognizes that commitment and augurs an even stronger partnership going forward.” Proceeds from Southern’s Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival benefit the school, whose state-of-the-art facilities include the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center, a 4,500-square-foot facility that was built in 1999 and offers the latest technology for beverage tasting and analysis.

Southern Moves Quickly To Gain Spirits Footprint In Newly Privatized Washington

(by Shanken News Daily) With Washington state voting to privatize liquor retailing and distributing in last November’s referendum, Southern Wine & Spirits has taken a major step in establishing a spirits portfolio in the market. Earlier today, Southern was tapped by Pernod Ricard USA as its exclusive distributor in Washington, effective March 1. Southern previously acted as broker for Pernod in the state.

Southern is closely aligned with Pernod Ricard, handling the company’s brands in 28 markets across the country, which account for 57% of Pernod’s total U.S. business. Pernod’s next-biggest distribution partner is RNDC, which handles 17% of the total Pernod business.

This latest Southern-Pernod accord comes just days after Southern moved to gain greater control of its operations in Washington by acquiring the balance of Southern/Odom Corp., its Pacific Northwest venture with The Odom Corporation.

Earlier this month, Southern agreed to handle Sidney Frank Importing Co.’s portfolio in Washington (also effective March 1), and the distributor also recently formed alliances with Campari America and Beam Inc. in the state. With these agreements, Southern will have five of the U.S. market’s top 15 spirits brands—Absolut, Jim Beam, Skyy, Jägermeister and Seagram’s Gin—in its stable. And it’s highly likely that Southern is working to partner with more key suppliers in Washington as privatization becomes fully implemented.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Squeezing More Profit: On-Premise Operators Focus On Cost Efficiencies To Boost Margins

Above photo is of Willy Shine from

(by Shanken News Daily) Bars and restaurants are taking a closer look at cost efficiencies in the face of a tough economy, re-examining operations to get the most out of their businesses.

Willy Shine, who co-founded New York City-based Contemporary Cocktails Inc. with fellow mixologist Aisha Sharpe, has seen his share of missteps in his roughly 20 years of experience behind the bar. Shine has worked on drinks programs for venues including Pranna restaurant, 1534 bar and The Royalton New York hotel in New York City, as well as Tao Beach lounge in Las Vegas. “The most common issues are inventory control and managing a respectable cost-of-goods percentage every month,” he says.

Companies like Louisville, Kentucky-based Bevintel focus on these issues. “Bars and restaurants lose most of their money by over-ordering, over-pouring and not maintaining security on liquor,” says company CEO Dan Smith, who’s worked with Cheers in Boston and national chains like T.G.I. Friday’s, Applebee’s and Marriott International. “We scan and analyze every bottle in the entire facility. We can tell venue owners exactly how much is being used, sold and purchased, so they can make accurate cost assessments. We usually find thousands of dollars in loss.”

For larger venues, Contemporary Cocktails uses hand-held inventory management system AccuBar, which measures and displays the amount of spirits and wines remaining in bottles while also ordering out-of-stock items by scanning bar codes on empty bottles. Clients have seen a 50%-80% reduction in labor hours spent maintaining inventory, AccuBar claims.

On inventory levels, Shine stresses ordering light and knowing a venue’s theme and demographic. “If it’s a high-volume tourist bar, you’ll probably want to carry more variety compared to a venue focused on cocktails,” he says. Bevintel’s Smith agrees that overstocking is a must-avoid. “Distributors will sometimes offer (volume) discounts on certain items, but is the bar using that product at a speed that makes sense?” he says. “If not, then clearly there’s money sitting on the shelves.”

Proper staff training is another key component of cost-efficiency. Having bar staff measure ingredients with jiggers can keep costs down while also improving quality. “With the increased prominence of cocktails, it’s important to portion a drink correctly and consistently maintain quality,” Smith says.

Bar organization also plays a huge role in cost-efficiency. “If a bar isn’t arranged as well as it could be and staff can’t quickly find bottles, they’ll be grabbing them, dropping them and breaking them,” Smith says. Contemporary Cocktails’ Shine agrees. “Venues lose the most money through glassware breakage, over-pouring and spillage,” he says. Setting up bar stations for efficiency and speed can remedy many of these issues. “A bartender shouldn’t have to take more than one or two steps to reach everything he or she needs,” Shine says. “Combine steps or batch certain cocktails at the service bar.”

Restaurateurs in particular need to keep an eye on beverage alcohol waste. “When a venue’s sales are 80% food and 20% bar, operators often ignore the bar,” Smith says. “We just worked with an accomplished restaurateur who has 12 to 15 restaurants, and we found $20,000 worth of loss on a weekly basis—that’s $1 million a year in alcohol losses.” Contemporary Cocktails’ Shine agrees that paying close attention to the bar sales is integral. “You make your money on the bar, so manage it,” he says. “Set it up to succeed.”

Friday, January 20, 2012

Spirits Sales in Ohio Rose 5.3% to Reach a Record High of Nearly $800 Million Last Year

(by Shanken News Daily) Spirits sales in Ohio rose 5.3% to reach a record high of nearly $800 million last year, according to the Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Liquor Control. After declining for three of the past four years, total wholesale sales increased 4.7% to $244 million, exceeding last year’s total by $10.9 million. By volume, Ohio liquor sales grew 3.9% to 4.8 million nine-liter cases, led by top-selling brands Kamchatka vodka (169,000 cases), Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey (147,000 cases), Bacardi Superior Light rum (123,000 cases), Captain Morgan spiced rum (120,000 cases) and Absolut vodka (116,000 cases). The Ohio Division of Liquor Control currently runs 457 contract liquor agencies throughout the state.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bacardi Limited Celebrates Its 150th Anniversary With Rare Bacardi Rum

(by Shanken News Daily) Bacardi Limited will celebrate the 150th anniversary of its eponymous rum brand this year with a series of events and the release of a $2,000 limited-edition bottle of rare Bacardi rum. Eight former maestros de ron, all Bacardi family members, created Ron Bacardi de Maestros de Ron, Vintage, MMXII, a blend of rums aged in oak barrels for over 20 years. The luxury offering will be released in 500-ml. crystal decanters presented in leather cases. Some 400 bottles will be available for purchase in selected retail stores and international airports. The company’s anniversary will also include birthday parties thrown around the world, beginning in Germany on January 28, as well as airport displays and a global cocktail competition.

Southern Wine & Spirits Names Ryan Lawrence VP-National Accounts

(by Shanken News Daily) Southern Wine & Spirits has named Ryan Lawrence to the newly created position of vice president, national accounts, leading the Southern team that manages its relationship with Walmart and Sam’s Club. Lawrence will report directly to George Fisher, senior vice president, national off-premise accounts. Lawrence previously served as director of category management at Campbell’s Soup and prior to that was director of strategic accounts for Constellation Brands, where he also focused on category management for Walmart and Sam’s Club.

Sidney Frank Importing Co. Names Southern Wine & Spirits Its Exclusive Wine and Spirits Distributor in Illinois Beginning March 1st

(by Shanken News Daily) New Rochelle, New York-based Sidney Frank Importing Co. has named Southern Wine & Spirits (SWS) as its exclusive wine and spirits distributor in Illinois beginning March 1. The move marks a switch from current distributor Wirtz Beverage Group in Illinois. Also March 1, Southern Wine & Spirits-Pacific Northwest Brokerage will become Sidney Frank’s exclusive spirits broker in the control states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming; its wine broker in Utah and Wyoming; and its wine distributor in Oregon. SWS is also gaining distribution of Sidney Frank’s brands in Washington state. It will begin handling the group’s spirits brands in the on-premise and wine both on- and off-premise in Washington March 1, and add spirits in the off-premise on June 1. Young’s Market Co. previously handled Sidney Frank’s brands in those states. Sidney Frank’s portfolio is led by Jägermeister, and also includes Gekkeikan sake, Michael Collins Irish whiskey and Bärenjäger honey liqueur.

SPECIAL REPORT: Impact Databank Reveals Top 25 Spirits Brands Of 2011

(by Shanken News Daily) The U.S. spirits market’s top 25 brands enjoyed solid overall growth in 2011, advancing by 2.5%—or more than 2 million cases—to 86.9 million cases, according to Impact Databank. However, that progress was almost totally driven by just two brands—Pinnacle and Svedka, which together added 1.8 million cases last year. Both Pinnacle and Svedka retail for around $13-$14 a 750-ml., putting them near the low end of imported vodka’s pricing spectrum. Low-priced domestic players Barton and Skol were also among the growth standouts in the top 25—advancing by 4% and 8%, respectively, and adding further evidence that competitively priced vodka remains the U.S. spirits market’s most dynamic segment.

Growth was sluggish for the market’s biggest brands. The top five—Smirnoff, Bacardi, Captain Morgan, Jack Daniel’s and Absolut—achieved aggregate growth of just 0.6%. Further down the list, there were some promising performances. Hennessy (+2.8%), Ketel One (+5.3%) and Malibu (+5.6%) experienced their biggest growth in at least five years. Meanwhile, Jim Beam’s 3.9% bump was its largest gain since 2000. (That growth didn’t include Beam extension Red Stag, which is estimated to have advanced by around 30% in 2011.)

While the top 25 brands comprise roughly 45% of total U.S. spirits volume, some of the best performers of 2011 didn’t crack the list. Two examples are Diageo’s Cîroc vodka and Pernod Ricard’s Jameson Irish whiskey. After doubling its sales to 685,000 cases in 2010, Cîroc is projected to have doubled again in 2011 as it surged past the million-case mark. Jameson jumped past the million-case threshold in 2010 when it advanced by 27%, and it accelerated its growth in 2011, with sales up 29% during the first half of the year. Both brands are poised to enter the top 25 rankings by year-end.

For a full report on the Top 25 Spirits Brands of 2011, see Impact’s January 1&15 issue.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Walgreens Unveils New Store Concept Featuring Sushi Bar, Upscale Wine, Spirits And Beer

(by Shanken News Daily) Walgreens debuted a 27,000-square-foot, high-end flagship store in Chicago earlier this week. The new two-story unit has numerous upscale features including a made-to-order sushi bar, a smoothie station, a barista serving local coffee, a cigar humidor and an expanded selection of gourmet foods, wine, spirits and beer. The store stocks more than 700 wines, compared to 70 at an average Walgreens location. Wine prices range from $18-$24 a bottle, although the store also boasts a 2006 Penfolds Grange for $449.99. The spirits selection also is impressive, with prices as high as $2,000 for Rémy Martin Louis XIII Cognac, and numerous beer offerings, including Walgreens’ private-label Big Flats 1901 beer and craft brews from Goose Island, Two Brothers Brewery and Great Lakes Brewing Co., among others.

Walgreens has been expanding the alcohol program at its roughly 7,800 stores throughout the United States. Up until the mid-1990s Walgreens was one of the country’s largest alcohol retailers, but it subsequently exited the business. In 2009, the company reinstated sales of wine, beer and spirits (where legal).

If this newest Chicago flagship proves successful, Walgreens will consider expanding the concept to selected neighborhoods throughout the U.S., although a company spokesperson said there are currently no specific expansion plans on the table.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Spec’s Deal For Sigel’s Is Off For Now

(by Shanken News Daily) Tony Bandiera, owner of 10-store Dallas retail chain Sigel’s, has elected not to accept the recent takeover offer from fellow Texas retailer Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods. A deal had been expected, but Sigel’s president John Rector told Shanken News Daily this morning, “After lengthy consideration, Tony decided he didn’t want to do the deal and it’s off the table for the time being.”

“I’ve been through this a couple times before with him,” says John Rydman, president and co-owner of Spec’s. “We’ve been talking since June of last year on this project, and a few years ago we were also pretty close to a deal. I thought we had a contract this time. But it’s tough with a family-owned business to make the decision to sell.”

Asked when he might try again to secure the deal that would provide a readymade platform in the Dallas area, including 10 stores with combined revenues of around $120 million and a central warehouse, Rydman said, “I’m willing if he’s willing.”

Houston-based Spec’s, which now has over 95 locations, opened its first store in the Dallas area last month, and its rapid expansion across the Lone Star State continues. “We’re getting ready to open up a store in Lubbock. Last week we opened one in Angleton (south of Houston),” Rydman said.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Skyy Spirits Is Renamed Campari America, Signs 18-State Deal With Southern Wine & Spirits

(by Shanken News Daily) Skyy Spirits has changed its name to Campari America, to reflect its status as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Italy’s Gruppo Campari. The change covers Gruppo Campari’s operations in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

“We’re very identified with Skyy vodka, but in reality it’s only part of a very large portfolio of almost 5 million cases,” Gerry Ruvo, chairman of Campari America, told Shanken News Daily. “We want people to understand we’re part of one of the top premium spirits marketers in the world, and that our parent company is making enormous investments in its brands in the U.S. and will continue to do so.”

Beyond Skyy—which rose 1.5% to 2.7 million cases in the U.S. in 2011, according to Impact Databank—the Campari America portfolio includes the Campari brand, as well as Wild Turkey Bourbon, Glen Grant single malt Scotch, Cabo Wabo and Espolon Tequilas and X-Rated Fusion Liqueur, among other Gruppo Campari brands, as well as agency labels like the Bowmore and Glenrothes single malts and Flor de Caña rum.

“Consumers know us by our brands, but we thought it was important to let people across the trade—wholesalers and retailers—know we have a much wider footprint than just Skyy—and for the most part a company-owned footprint,” Ruvo said. Campari-owned brands represent over 90% of Skyy’s stable. Campari first invested in Skyy in 1998, eventually gaining full control in 2006.

Meanwhile, the newly christened Campari America renewed its alignment with top U.S. distributor Southern Wine & Spirits across 18 states, including existing markets Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Vermont, and one new market, Indiana.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Exclusive: Wine And Spirits Shakeup As LeDrew Joins Treasury, Rust Takes Over At Diageo’s Catalyst Unit

Photo above is of Sandra LeDrew

(by Shanken News Daily) In a surprise move, Treasury Wine Estates has announced the appointment of Diageo executive Sandra LeDrew as managing director, Americas.

LeDrew is slated to begin her new role in early February. She will be based in Treasury’s Napa office and report to CEO David Dearie, who’s based in Melbourne, Australia. LeDrew’s responsibilities will include distributor and customer relations as well as national accounts covering the U.S. Canada, Mexico and South America. At the Napa office, she will work alongside Stephen Brauer, Treasury’s managing director, Beringer.

LeDrew, a long-serving Diageo executive, became president at Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines (DC&E) in early 2009. Last September, Diageo tapped her to become president of Catalyst, a new business unit that’s focused on the company’s niche spirits brands. “After more than 20 years with Diageo, this was an extremely difficult decision,” LeDrew said. “But my passion has always been wine.”

“Sandra and I have worked together for many years and I have valued her experience, counsel and the significant contributions she has made to the business. Personally and professionally, I am very disappointed to see her leave and I know she will be missed,” said Larry Schwartz, president, Diageo USA. “I know this next chapter will be exciting for her. On behalf of everyone at Diageo, I wish Sandra all the best in her new venture.”

The Treasury Wine Estates portfolio includes Beringer, Lindemans, Penfolds, Rosemount, Wolf Blass, Greg Norman Estates, Wynns Coonawara, Little Penguin, Etude, Souverain, Chateau St. Jean, Castello di Gabbiano, Black Opal, Meridian, Colores del Sol, Emma Pearl and Sledgehammer, among others.

*Meanwhile, Diageo has named Stephen Rust as president of the Catalyst division, replacing LeDrew. Rust joined Diageo in 2005 as senior vice president for commercial strategy. He previously was executive vice president, national sales at Schieffelin & Somerset. Rust began his career at Paddington Corp. in 1988 as an on-premise representative. At Diageo, Rust has held a number of key roles including general manager southwest, senior vice president Diageo Reserve Brands Group and, most recently, senior vice president of joint ventures and strategic relationships. In that role, Rust manages ties with Sean Combs on Cîroc, the Nolet Family on Ketel One, Raphael Yacoby for Nuvo and Diageo’s partnership on Zacapa rum. He’s also in charge of Diageo’s non-alcoholic business including Stirrings, Smirnoff Bloody Mary and Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix.

The Catalyst portfolio includes Tanqueray Sterling, Pimms, Moon Mountain, Rökk, Myers’s, Rumple Minz, Goldschläger, Jeremiah Weed, Emmets, Parrot Bay, Stirrings Liqueurs, Old Parr, Lagavulin, Glenkinchie, Cragganmore, Dalwhinnie, Caol Ila, Clynelish, The Singleton, Dimple, Oban, Talisker, George Dickel, Black Haus, Romana Sambuca, Yukon Jack, Zwack and Ursus. Catalyst currently totals 28 spirits brands with annual revenues of around $250 million. Diageo’s goal is to double Catalyst’s volume and sales revenue to 5.4 million cases and $500 million in the next three years.

Click HERE for the complete story. Please visit us at The Rum Shop for all your rum-related needs, including purchasing rum on-line, rum recipes, rum tasting notes, rum event information and rum consulting services. "Got Rum?" Magazine is back in circulation, get your free copy HERE.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Interview: Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board CEO Joseph Conti

(by Shanken News Daily) When voters in Washington state approved a referendum to end state control of beverage alcohol sales late last year, all eyes turned to Pennsylvania, the largest control state in the United States by volume. Indeed, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) is the largest purchaser of wine and spirits in the U.S. and has sales of $1.5 billion generated from 609 state-operated stores.

Currently, Pennsylvania is one of only two states (the other is Utah) that owns and operates wholesale and retail sales of wine and spirits. Unlike Washington, Pennsylvania doesn’t have binding referendums, so the route to privatization would simply be for a bill from the legislature to be signed by the governor. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has indicated he would sign such a bill. Shanken News Daily recently spoke with the PLCB’s CEO, Joseph Conti, about the likelihood of privatization and overall efforts to modernize sales of beverage alcohol in Pennsylvania.

SND: What’s your view of privatization, and do you think the Pennsylvania legislature will move forward with the privatization bill?

Conti: House Majority Leader Mike Turzai’s House Bill 11 was amended before the House of Representatives adjourned for the holidays. It’s still part of an active legislative agenda. Rather than proposing 1,250 retail outlets in the original version of HB 11, the amended version offers the opportunity for 1,200 additional beer distributors to sell wine. There’s a proposed $50,000 upfront fee for a license and then a $15,000-a-year licensing fee.

SND: How significant is the consumer movement toward privatization in Pennsylvania?

Conti: In polls, 50%-60% of Pennsylvanians favor deregulation. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, there was much more public support—around 95%—for deregulation. So there’s not the enthusiasm we saw 20 or 30 years ago. That’s thanks to the PLCB’s various initiatives over the years.

SND: What’s the best argument for maintaining the status quo in Pennsylvania?

Conti: First, we are a significant asset that has $1.5 billion in sales and was able to generate $80 million in profit last year and cover all expenses for our operation. We also collect $400 million in taxes annually. So you have the benefits of a nice return for Pennsylvania taxpayers, and then you have the public safety issue. We think there’s a lot of merit in the controlled nature of wine and spirits sales.

SND: What are the latest developments in the modernization of the PLCB?

Conti: Beginning four years ago, the board conducted research to determine what consumers wanted in our stores. One thing that emerged from that was our center tables, which are a combination checkout with two to four registers, along with a manager’s office that’s visible to the public and a tasting bar at the end. That’s our new look. The store concept itself also has been revamped in terms of visuals—mainly by having fewer case stackings and displaying the bottles out of their cases. That has met with great consumer success, and we’ve seen nice increases in retail sales at our three or four prototypes. We’re now rolling this out across all 609 stores over the next two to five years. We also have a new website, We think we have a great future in e-commerce.

Click HERE for the complete story. Please visit us at The Rum Shop for all your rum-related needs, including purchasing rum on-line, rum recipes, rum tasting notes, rum event information and rum consulting services. "Got Rum?" Magazine is back in circulation, get your free copy HERE.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Spec’s Eyes Deal For Sigel’s As Part Of Expansion Into Dallas

(by Shanken News Daily) Texas retailer Spec’s has made good on its stated intention to enter the Dallas market, opening its first store there last month. Now Spec’s is attempting a greater leap forward in the Dallas market with the potential acquisition of 10-store Sigel’s Beverages. John Rector, president of Sigel’s, told Shanken News Daily this morning that Spec’s had made an offer, which Sigel’s owner Tony Bandiera is currently considering.

In addition to the 10 retail locations which generate over $100 million in revenue, an acquisition of Sigel’s would give Spec’s a central warehouse in Dallas, Rector said, adding that Sigel’s has around 200 employees. The prospective purchase would present a challenge to top Dallas retailers Centennial Wine & Spirits—which boasts 40 stores in the North Texas area—and Goody Goody Liquors, which operates 19 locations. Houston-based Spec’s has significantly expanded its footprint across the Lone Star State over the past year, opening new outposts in San Antonio, El Paso and Killeen among others. It currently has 95 stores, generating revenues of around $500 million. Spec’s had no comment on the potential deal.