Brown-Forman (B-F) leads a spirited existence and spreads its spirits, led by Jack Daniel's whiskey, around the world. 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 more than 25 brands, the company's beverages are sold in more than 160 countries throughout the world; sales outside the US account for about 54% of revenues.
The US is B-F's largest market, accounting for about 46% of the company's fiscal 2016 (ended April) sales. The company's largest foreign markets include Europe (the UK, Germany, France, Russia, Turkey, and Poland) with about a third of sales, and Australia contributing 9%. Other important markets include Mexico, Japan, Dubai, and Canada.
B-F generates revenue through two categories: Spirits (95% of 2016 sales), and Wine (5%).
Sales and Marketing
In the US the company sells to distributors or state governments (for states that control alcohol sales); it also relies on distributors in Russia, Japan, Spain, Italy, and South Africa. B-F owns distribution companies in more than a dozen markets, including Australia, Mexico, Poland, and Turkey. B-F sells its products directly to retailers, to wholesalers, or, in Canada, to provincial governments. In the UK, it partners with competitor Bacardi to sell a combined portfolio of both companies' products.
In fiscal 2017, the company plans to establish a new distribution company in Spain, which it expects to begin operating in fiscal 2018.
The company’s advertising costs were $417 million in fiscal 2016 and $437 million in 2015.
The alcoholic beverage company reported fiscal 2016 net sales of $4 billion (prior to excise taxes), a 1% decreas due to negative effects of foreign exchange as a result of the strengthened US dollar, and the sale of Southern Comfort and Tuaca brands.
B-F's net income has been in an upward trend over last five years. In fiscal 2016 B-F's net income increased by 56% due to gains on the sale of business and a decrease in advertising expenses. Gain on the sale of business is related to the sale of Southern Comfort and Tuaca brands; and advertising expenses decreased due to lower spending for Southern Comfort globally and Finlandia Vodka.
Despite the increase in net income, the company’s operating cash flow decreased by 14% due to the decline in cash provided by accounts payable and accrued expenses and higher cash used in inventories.
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. Since 2002 international sales have more than double from around 25% to nearly 55% in fiscal 2016.
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.) 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 well as reposition el Jimador tequila as a premium brand in Mexico.
In two developments, B-F plans to sell a whiskey experience as well as whiskey. It's building the Old Forester Distillery and urban bourbon experience in two historic buildings on Main Street in Louisville, Kentucky. In Ireland, the company is to open a similar distillery-shopping facility for Slane Castle Irish Whiskey in 2017.
To concentrate on its spirit business, in 2016 the company sold its Southern Comfort and Tuaca business to privately held Sazerac for $542.4 million.
The company completed construction of a new distillery on its property in Lynchburg, Tennessee during the first quarter of fiscal 2016. The next stage of the expansion in Lynchburg will add bottling capacity and finished product warehousing, to be completed in the next few years.
The continued growth of the Jack Daniel’s family of brands and completed the construction of two new warehouses, and entered into the second phase of a bottling expansion in 2016.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In 2016 the company acquired The BenRiach Distillery Company for £285 million. B-F re-enters the Single Malt Scotch Whisky business with the acquisition, which includes three Single Malt Scotch Whisky brands: GlenDronach, BenRiach, and Glenglassaugh.
The previous year, B-F bought Slane Castle Irish Whiskey Limited, extending its reach into another brown liquor. B-F is investing $50 million to build a new distillery, construct warehouses, and develop a consumer experience, on the historic Slane Castle Estate in Ireland, about 30 miles north of Dublin. It plans to open the Slane Castle Whiskey Distillery in late 2016 and to introduce new Irish whiskeys in the spring of 2017.