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 some 30 brands, the company's beverages are sold in more than 160 countries throughout the world; sales outside the US account for about 60% of revenue.
The US is B-F's largest market, accounting for about 43% of 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 just more than 10%. Other important markets include Mexico, Japan, and Canada.
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 about a dozen markets, including Australia, Mexico, Poland, and Turkey. In the UK, it partners with competitor Bacardi to sell a combined portfolio of both companies' products.
The alcoholic beverage company reported 2015 (ended April) net sales of $4 billion (prior to excise taxes, which explains the difference in revenue reporting), a 4% increase compared with the prior year. Net income increased about 4% over the same period.The results were powered by the Jack Daniel's family of brands, with sales up 7% year-over-year. The company sold the equivalent of 15 million drinks during the year. Sales in Australia slid lower for the second straight year, down 8%. Sales also were down in Russia and Germany.
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 60% in fiscal 2014 before a slight decline in 2015.
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.
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 2016.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In 2016 the company acquired The BenRiach Distillery Company for £281 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.