Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Campari to push Appleton in Europe, Africa

KUNZE-CONCEWITZ... we don’t follow fads
New owner of Lascelles sets no deadlines, but expects rums to thrive

 CAMILO THAME Business Co-ordinator | Jamaica Observer
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
ITALIAN spirits company, Davide Campari-Milano (Campari) plans to push the Appleton brand in Europe and Africa, where it doesn't already have a strong presence.

What's more, the group, which now almost owns Appleton-maker, Lascelles deMercado, outright, will even consider using raw sugar made here for its products made in Europe.
Campari acquired almost all the shares in Lascelles for US$409 million on Monday.  It plans to exercise its rights in buying the remaining 1.4 per cent of the ordinary stock and the 0.5 per cent of the preferred shares that it did not get in its buyout offer.

But having a long history in the spirits business, means that Campari has no deadlines or any specific growth targets to meet, according to Bob Kunze-Concewitz. Campari is 152 years old and is family controlled — 51 per cent owned by one family, which means that the company traditionally takes the long view.

"We don't follow fads," said the CEO of Campari Group.

Kunze-Concewitz said that the acquisition was the fruition of a near decade-long courtship, and that the past performance of his company, especially since the mid-1990s "will explain what we have in mind here".

"From being a mono-brand company up to the mid-1990s (when it only sold its flagship Campari brand), we have become the sixth largest producers of spirits," he said. "We have conducted 19 business deals (acquisitions and investments) since 1995 and everyone of them has grown sales and profitability as well as international footprint. That is exactly what we have in mind for the portfolio of brands here."

Presently, half of Lascelles' business is outside of Jamaica, where spirits are sold to 60 different markets. However, two-thirds of that business goes to Canada, the US, Mexico, and New Zealand. Campari's strong presence in those markets provides for synergistic opportunities to push the Jamaican brands there.

However, markets in the rest of Europe, such as Italy and Russia, or in Africa, such as South Africa, where, unlike Campari, the rum brands made in Jamaica don't have a strong presence, or is further behind in terms of penetrations, may provide for even greater opportunities.

"We had to buy all the bottles of Appleton that were available on the market, when it had its press event to announce the Lascelles deal back in September," Kunze-Concewitz said of Lascelles' small market presence in Italy.

Campari also views the sugar operations in Jamaica very positively. It is a huge consumers of sugar for its other products. More importantly, a treaty between the EU and Jamaica, which waives the duty on the sweetener into Italy, could make Jamaican sugar more favourable than even cheap, Brazilian sugar.

"We need to look into it," the Campari head said.
Appleton, Wray & Nephew and Coruba, which all belonged to Lascelles, will be the first rum lines in Campari's portfolio. The Italian spirits company already owns popular vodka brand, Skyy, Bourbon, Wild Turkey, and tequila, Cabo Wabo, which is one of the fastest growing spirits in the US.

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