Maker's Mark acquisition strengthens Fortune's position

By Leah Vyse

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Fortune brands Pernod ricard Allied domecq

Fortune Brands believes that the acquisition of bourbon firm
Maker's Mark will enable it to double its sales of wines and

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has now terminated the waiting period of its review of the purchase, allowing Fortune to proceed with the acquisition that includes distillery facilities in Kentucky, the home of bourbon.

Fortune Brands will now be hoping to take advantage of the increase in demand for small batch bourbons, which enjoyed sales growth of 4.4 per cent in 2002 and then again of 7.5 per cent in 2003.

"As one of the most respected and fastest growing brands in the spirits industry, Maker's Mark will be a high-impact addition to our newly enhanced spirits and wine portfolio,"​ said Fortune Brands chairman and chief executive Norm Wesley.

"Maker's Mark continues to experience double-digit growth year after year. We see continued momentum for the brand and excellent international growth opportunities."

Maker's Mark was launched in 1958 as part of the modern bourbon era following success of the small batch bourbon. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, sales of bourbon and Tennessee whiskey grew to 13.4 million nine-litre cases in 2003, showing a 2 per cent increase from the previous year.

The strongest category of sales lies among high-end and super-premium brands like Maker's Mark, whose annual sales are reported to exceed 500,000 nine-litre cases.

Revenue from bourbon sales in 2003 were recorded at $1.3 billon, with high-end bourbons generating the most revenue of $767.5 million.

Fortune, the US-based drinks giant has already gained approval form the European regulators to purchase the brand, and was waiting on unconditional clearance by the FTC.

The deal to acquire Maker's Mark from French firm Pernod Ricard was originally agreed in April. Pernod Ricard acquired the bourbon brand through its earlier purchase of Allied Domecq.

With annual sales exceeding $7 billion and recently acquired brands such as Courvoisier cognac and Canadian Club whiskey, Fortune Brands is now one of the top four spirits companies in the world.

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