Beam Suntory offloads Courvoisier to Campari amid strategic refocus

By Kristiane Sherry |

Courvoisier at CDF Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex, Hainan

Courvoisier Cognac is changing hands with GTR a core focus. An activation at CDF Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex, Hainan.

Beam Suntory has agreed to sell Courvoisier to Campari Group in a deal valued at US$1.32 billion, the largest transaction of its type in Campari’s history.

The sale includes properties and operational facilities in Jarnac, France, intellectual property, maturing stocks and finished goods.

Campari will take on all distilling, ageing and bottling operations for both Courvoisier and the Salignac brand, a VS expression sold in the US.

The deal is expected to close in 2024 subject to employee consultations and other regulatory approvals. 

With the acquisition, Cognac is set to become Campari’s fourth “major leg”, alongside apéritifs, Bourbon and Tequila. 

Campari said the development will enable a “significant step up” in the US, alongside “long-term transformational potential” in Asia and global travel retail (GTR).

Courvoisier net sales stood at US$249 million in 2022 according to Beam Suntory, with around 60% contributed by the US market. 

The UK and China currently account for 25% of sales, with GTR accounting for 3%. 

Sales shrank by 33% year-on-year over the 10 months to 31 October 2023, with volumes hit by a normalisation in the US and wholesaler de-stocking.

Maturing stock has been valued at US$365 million.

Courvoisier’s history dates back to 1828. The youngest of the “big four” Cognac houses, it was chosen to inaugurate both the opening of the Eiffel Tower and Moulin Rouge. 

It is also the most-awarded Cognac house based on results from 20 top spirits competitions since 2019. 

Other recent Campari acquisition deals include Grand Marnier liqueur, Bisquit Dubouché Cognac, Trois Rivières rhum, Champagne Lallier, and Picon apéritif.

Courvoisier ‘well positioned’ for growth

“We are proud to have nurtured the iconic Courvoisier brand for nearly 20 years, investing in its growth across key global markets and transforming it into a symbol of modern luxury and an industry leader in awards and sustainability,” said Greg Hughes, President and CEO of Beam Suntory. 

“The brand is very well positioned for its next chapter of growth, and we are confident that Campari would be the right partner to take Courvoisier into the future. 

“This move would allow us to further focus our portfolio on our core areas of strength as we accelerate our global growth ambitions.”

Courvoisier at CDF Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex, Hainan

Courvoisier is one of the big four Cognac houses

Bob Kunze-Concewitz, Campari Group CEO, added: “We are very pleased to acquire a top four historical Cognac house, Courvoisier with great latent equity and highly acclaimed expressions. 

“The addition of Courvoisier cognac to our portfolio of global priorities is a rare and unique opportunity to expand our premium spirits portfolio and Cognac offering. 

“By leveraging our heavy cognac expertise at Board and Executive Team level, Campari Group has a fantastic opportunity to reinforce this brand’s credentials as a global icon of luxury, priming cognac to become Campari Group’s fourth major leg along with aperitifs, Bourbon and Tequila. 

“Concomitantly, we are looking forward to accelerating our premiumisation journey, further enriching our Rare portfolio, the division created to unlock and accelerate the growth potential of a select range of high-end individual expressions in our core premium spirits markets.”

Matteo Fantacchiotti, Campari Group Deputy CEO, commented: “In addition to acquiring a globally recognised brand with strong premiumisation credentials, we have a unique opportunity to expand our Cognac production and bottling capacity in France, a core platform of our global supply chain. 

“Our recent investments into business infrastructure and enhanced operation capabilities, combined with Campari Group’s formidable reputation for investing in brands with strong equity and potential for long-term sustainable growth will allow us to unlock Courvoisier’s full potential. 

“We are very excited to further build upon our premium portfolio of brands in the US, simultaneously adding significant leverage into China and the wider Asia Pacific arena, while also expanding the premium innovation platform for our Cognac portfolio.”

Beam Suntory is in “acceleration mode” following the pandemic, with global travel retail (GTR) playing an important role, Brand Marketing Director GTR Manuel González told TRBusiness in October.

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