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Key regions and Bourbon boost Beam Suntory results

Strong performances in the US and Japan helped Beam Suntory register mid-single-digit revenue growth in 2018, when Maker’s Mark Bourbon surpassed sales of two million cases for the first time.

Maker’s Mark is a key brand for Beam Suntory

The US and Japan are Beam Suntory’s two largest markets and reflect the origins of the company, which was formed in 2014 after Japan’s Suntory Holdings acquired Chicago-headquartered Beam Inc.

The group recorded mid-single-digit sales growth in the US and Oceania last year, high-single-digit growth in Europe, and double-digit growth in India, Southeast Asia and China.

Jim Beam Bourbon registered high-single-digit volume growth and surpassed sales of 10 million cases, while Maker’s Mark grew volume sales at a double-digit rate and exceeded 2m cases. According to Brand Champions data, the brand recorded sales of 1.9m cases in 2017.

In an interview published last year, outgoing Beam Suntory CEO Matt Shattock told SB that Maker’s Mark would become a “very big focal point” for the group on a global scale.

Courvoisier Cognac and Canadian Club whisky both witnessed high-single-digit growth, while premium brands Hornitos Tequila, Basil Hayden’s Bourbon and Sipsmith Gin, which Beam Suntory acquired in 2016, experience double-digit gains. Meanwhile, Roku Gin “inspired strong sales”.

According to Shattock, Beam Suntory’s results “reflect the sustained success” of its growth strategy and “unique east-meets-west competitive advantage”.

“We gained share across our largest markets in 2018, while also step-changing our position to capture future growth in emerging markets,” he said.

“Consumers around the world are responding to the authenticity and versatility of Bourbon, and that resulted in strong momentum and premiumisation for our brands as growth accelerated up the price ladder.”

Suntory Spirits Limited – Beam Suntory’s business based in Japan – increased sales by 3%.

In Japan, Kakubin Japanese whisky, Jim Beam, Torys Japanese spirit and Maker’s Mark “delivered strong growth”, while volume sales of RTDs grew 10% thanks to an emerging food pairing trend.

Including wine, spirits and beer, parent company Suntory Holdings saw its alcoholic beverage portfolio increase revenue by 3.7% to 749.4 billion yen (US$6.8bn) in 2018.

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