Strong 'savoir faire' sees Rémy Cointreau seal Bruichladdich whisky deal

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Remy cointreau Scotch whisky

Burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese and Cointreau have formed a partnership. (Picture Copyright: Remy Cointreau)
Burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese and Cointreau have formed a partnership. (Picture Copyright: Remy Cointreau)
Rémy Cointreau is toasting its first move into premium Scotch after agreeing to acquire single-malt distiller Bruichladdich Distillery Company for £58m ($90m).

Company spokeswoman, Joëlle Jézéquel, told this morning that the bulk of Bruichladdich sales were now in the UK, France, Germany and Canada. 

But given that Bruichladdich only held a 0.2% single malt world volume share in 2011, how keen was Remy Cointreau to invest and expand the firm's Isle of Islay distillery? 

"It's only a small brand, although it's a well-known premium brand. It's small in volume and we want to develop the brand. But we are more interested in value as opposed to volume," ​Jézéquel said.

Drop in the single-malt ocean?

Asked if Rémy Cointreau might pursue further single-malt acquisitions, she added: "We will see. This is the first time we have moved into Scotch whisky. It's new for us, but it's interesting because it's in line with our value strategy.

Scotch whisky is a clear fit with our cognac and liqueur portfolio, and we have a strong distribution network we can use," ​she added.

"We are very strong in Asia and we think that Scotch whisky is perfect for the Asian market, and has great potential."

Welcoming the £58m deal after an "exciting and demanding"​ eleven and half years - following a private investor buy out - Bruichladdich chairman Sir John Mactaggart said he had mixed emotions regarding his board's agreement to sell the 300-year-old firm.

"But one needs to remember that we succeeded in saving, building and establishing - once and for all - the worldwide renown of Bruichladdich. 

"Rémy Cointreau's offer fully recognises the value of the Bruichladdich brand we have created, its potential, the quality and reputation of the whisky stocks we have layed down," ​he said.

Non-existent sales, derelict distillery...

Mactaggart said the firm had moved from "non-existent sales and a derelict distillery in 2001, to over 55,000 cases and a thriving company in 2011"​, and added that Bruichladdich was on course to double sales in the next couple of years.

The Rémy Cointreau deal (the figure above includes the French firm assuming Bruichladdich's debts of £10m) would allow for further capital investment to support long-term growth, he hinted.

Mactaggart said that this would have been hard for Bruichladdich to achieve otherwise, without generating significant extra shareholder funds.

The transaction is expected to be completed within six weeks, and marks Rémy Cointreau's first move into the premium single malt Scotch whisky segment, a category experiencing strong global growth, especially in the super-premium segment.

Long-term value strategy

The company said the deal fitted its "long-term value strategy, geared to investing into international premium spirits with strong 'savoir-faire'"

Jean-Marie Laborde, CEO of Rémy Cointreau, said: “The acquisition of Bruichladdich, a renowned Islay single malt with a rich and exciting heritage, is a great opportunity to enrich our high-end portfolio of brands and to confirm our strategy in the luxury spirits segment.

"We expect Bruichladdich to sit proudly alongside our other brands and we look forward to working closely with Bruichladdich’s experienced and passionate management team​”.

Rémy Cointreau sales growth

Announcing its Q1 2012 results for the three months to June 30 last Thursday, Rémy Cointreau reported organic growth (disregarding M&A activity) of 24.4% to €271.6m ($328.9m), compared with Q1 2011.

Rémy Martin enjoyed significant sales growth (+37.8%) driven by Asia Pacific and the US, while liqueurs and spirits recorded organic growth of 8.5% 

The Cointreau, Passoa and St-Rémy brands all grew, Paris-based Rémy Cointreau said, notably in the US and Europe, while brandy and wine spirit brand Metaxa enjoyed renewed growth in Europe but remained affected by the Greek economy.

"Throughout the financial year, the Group will continue to implement its aggressive strategy of developing its upmarket brands and pursue targeted innovation, supported by significant investment,"​ the company said.

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