South African spirits industry receives international backer

By mahlokoane percy ngwato

Beam Suntory, one of the world’s largest premium spirits companies, has announced the acquisition of a 50 percent equity stake in ABV Brands Proprietary Ltd., an independent distributor of spirits, based in South Africa.

ABV Brands has been the appointed distributor in South Africa for Beam Suntory since its foundation in 2010, during which time ABV Brands has grown sales of Beam Suntory’s brands by more than 260 percent, driven in part by consistent double-digit growth of its Jim Beam and Courvoisier brands.

The transaction is a crucial part of a strategic extension of this partnership, unlocking growth potential by allowing for further sales and marketing investments which will expand distribution to reach more consumers.

Albert Baladi, International President at Beam Suntory, said: “The African spirits market has phenomenal growth potential for Beam Suntory and our global whisky and cognac portfolio is ideally suited to capture the growth of premium spirits. This partnership gives us a beachhead, and we will continue to look for opportunities to become a key player in Sub-Saharan Africa by expanding our footprint, growing our brands and securing strong routes to market.”

Beam Suntory is aiming to accelerate growth in the country, which represents the continent’s largest spirits market and also to establish a strong foothold in Sub-Saharan Africa. ABV Brands aims to be among the top five distributors in South Africa by 2020.

Ross Calow, Managing Director of ABV Brands, commented: “ABV Brands is at the forefront of marketing and distribution of some of the world’s best-loved premium spirit brands, and this transaction will allow us to take Beam Suntory’s exceptional premium brand portfolio to new customers. This is a fantastic opportunity to combine ABV’s local expertise and agility with Beam Suntory’s global scale and portfolio of premium brands.”

Daniel Hawkins, Managing Director of ABV Brands, added: “We know the South African market inside out and see a clear opportunity here to grow Beam Suntory’s share. This deal will allow us to more aggressively target that growth by aligning our strategies and investment priorities.”

The 50 percent stake was purchased from from Cyprus-based FIX Wines & Spirits Ltd - the remaining 50 percent will continue to be held by ABV Brands’ co-founders and management team.

Igor Boyadjian, of FIX Wines & Spirits, said: “As co-founders of ABV, we are extremely proud of the success ABV Brands has had in growing a phenomenal and exciting portfolio of brands from Beam Suntory, Edrington, Berry Bros. & Rudd and others over the last five years. FIX Wines & Spirits has played a pivotal role in fueling ABV Brands’ early success and providing full support to the executive team. We now feel it is time for ABV Brands to play in a different league, so we are delighted to pass the baton to Beam Suntory to define a new and even more ambitious vision for the business. We wish them every success in this new partnership.”

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