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Brown-Forman full-year sales rise 3%

Jack Daniel’s owner Brown-Forman saw sales return to growth in the fourth quarter of its 2021 fiscal year, boosted by double-digit gains for Tequila and premium Bourbon.

Woodford Reserve stills

For the three months ending 30 April 2021, Brown-Forman’s net sales rose 14% to US$812 million, while operating profit dropped 10% to US$168m.

The company’s 12-month sales grew 3% to US$3.5 billion, with operating profit increasing by 7% to US$1.2bn.

The Q4 sales growth came after the group reported stagnant sales for the third quarter in March 2021.

Brown-Forman president and CEO, Lawson Whiting, said: “Brown-Forman’s performance in fiscal 2021 demonstrates the resilience of our strategy and our people, and the strength of our portfolio and our brands.

“In an unprecedented and complex environment, we delivered underlying net sales growth consistent with our long-term expectations.”

For fiscal 2021, the Jack Daniel’s family of brands grew net sales by 4%, led by the ready-to-drink (RTD) portfolio, the global launch of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple, and volume growth from the honey line extension and Gentleman Jack.

During the full year, Jack Daniel’s RTDs sold more than 12m nine-litre cases, while the Jack Daniel’s flavoured portfolio hit more than 3m cases, and Gentleman Jack reached 800,000 cases. Woodford Reserve also became a million-case brand in 2020.

Premium Bourbons, which includes Woodford Reserve and Old Forester, grew by double digits. The Tequila portfolio rose by 14%.

In February this year, the company moved forward with its multi-million-dollar distillery expansion in Louisville to meet increasing demand for American whiskey.

Market performance

The group’s largest market, the US, delivered ‘strong’ net sales growth. Developed international markets grew by double digits, led by Australia, Germany, France, and the UK. The growth offset declines in on-trade-led markets and markets that relied on tourism, such as Spain and the Czech Republic.

Emerging markets saw net sales increase by mid-single digits, driven by Brazil, Mexico, China and Poland.

During the year, the company said it had “continued to reshape” its portfolio through the sale of the Early Times, Canadian Mist and Collingwood brands and the acquisition of RTD brand Part Time Rangers.

For fiscal 2022, the company predicts mid-single digit growth in underlying net sales and operating income.

Jane Morreau, executive vice-president and chief financial officer, added: “We are optimistic as we look ahead, as we expect the operating environment to continue to improve.

“We remain confident in the collective strength of our markets and should benefit from the reopening of the on-premise channel and increase in tourism. Additionally, our portfolio remains well positioned to capitalise on the continuing spirits premiumisation trend.”

Last month, Brown-Forman lost a lawsuit against Grey Goose owner Bacardi over a £51.5m (US$73m) sum in relation to their former joint UK distribution deal.

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