Don't blame Brown-Forman (B-F) employees if the company Christmas party gets out of control; they have lots to drink on hand. The company's portfolio of mid-priced to super-premium brands includes such well-known spirits as Jack Daniel's, Canadian Mist, Finlandia, Southern Comfort, and Woodford Reserve. Its wine labels include Sonoma-Cutrer and Korbel champagnes. Jack Daniel's is the company's signature brand and is the largest-selling American whiskey in the world (by volume). Offering some 25 brands of wines and spirits, the company's beverages are sold in some 150 countries throughout the world. The founding Brown family, including former chairman Owsley Brown II, controls the company.
The US is B-F's largest market, accounting for about 40% of sales. The company's largest foreign markets include Europe (the UK, Germany and Poland) with about 30% of sales, and Australia contributing about 13%. Other important markets include Mexico, France, Russia, Japan, Turkey, Canada, Spain, Czech Republic, South Africa, Brazil, and Italy.
The alcoholic beverage company reported fiscal 2013 (ended April) sales of $2.85 billion, a 5% increase compared with the prior year. Profits increased by 15% over the same period. Foreign sales outpaced growth in the US: up 6% and 3%, respectively. Results in the US were depressed by the absence of approximately $83 million in sales of Hopland-based wine brands (sold in fiscal 2011). Once again the Jack Daniels was the company's cash cow, with net sales of the brand family up 9% year over year. Indeed, Jack Daniel's line extension grew at a faster rate than Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey itself, primarily because of the successful introduction of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey in several markets overseas and its continued growth in the US. 2013 marked the third consecutive year of increasing sales for the company, following two negative annual sales comparisons in fiscal 2009 and 2010.
B-F has found global success by introducing Jack Daniel's and other labels into new markets overseas. The company's principal export markets are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, and the UK. In the UK, it partners with competitor Bacardi to sell a combined portfolio of both companies' products. Since 2002 international sales have more than double from around 25% to nearly 60% in fiscal 2013 (ended April).
Jack Daniel's is B-F's signature and most important brand. The extended brand family includes Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey, Gentleman Jack, Jack Daniel's Single Barrel, and Jack Daniel's RTD [ready-to-drink] products, including Jack Daniel's & Cola, Jack Daniel's & Ginger, and Jack Daniel's Country Cocktails.) Consumption of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey exceeded 11 million 9-liter cases, up 3% in fiscal 2013. Other brands poised for growth include Finlandia vodka and Herradura tequila. The company is focusing its Finlandia marketing efforts on Poland, Russia, Eastern Europe, and US, while looking to Mexico and the US to grow Herradura.
As part of an ongoing review of its offerings, B-F sold its Fetzer Vineyards to Chilean wine producer Vina Concha y Toro SA for $238 million in 2011. The sale included the Fetzer, Bonterra, Five Rivers, Jekel, Sanctuary, and Little Black Dress brands and related assets in California. (B-F's premium Sonoma-Cutrer and Korbel California Champagne brands were not included in the sale.) Also in 2011 it sold its Hopland-based wine brands. Previously, the company sold the Italian wine brands Bolla and Fontana to Gruppo Italiano Vini. The sales have shortened the company's wine list considerably.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Despite the recent disposals, B-F has been adding to its spirits portfolio. In mid-2011 the company acquired the Maxiumus Vodka brand from Altia, a Finnish maker and distributor of spirits and beer. B-F has been the exclusive distributor of Maxiumus Vodka in Poland since 2004, when it purchased Altia's Finlandia Vodka brand.
The Brown family owns about 47% of the company's shares.