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Beam Suntory posts 7% FY sales rise

Maker’s Mark owner Beam Suntory saw net sales grow by 7% in 2023, driven by double-digit gains for its premium Bourbons and Japanese whiskies.

Beam Suntory's Japanese spirits portfolio, House of Suntory
Suntory’s Japanese whisky range, which includes Yamazaki, Hakushu and Hibiki, grew by double digits

The New York-headquartered firm reported 13% growth in operating income in 2023. Sales for the first half of 2023 rose by 10%, following a 10.5% increase in 2022.

Double-digit gains were seen for premium Bourbon brands Maker’s Mark and Knob Creek last year. Flagship Bourbon brand Jim Beam was up slightly by 3%.

The group’s Japanese whiskies – part of the House of Suntory portfolio – and El Tesoro Tequila also delivered double-digit growth.

The House of Suntory’s limited releases for its 100th anniversary in 2023 “generated strong demand”, according to Greg Hughes, who became president and CEO of Beam Suntory in October.

RTDs rose by approximately 12%, led by Lemon Sour, Jim Beam and Kakubin products.

The company plans to expand distribution of Japanese RTD brand -196 to the US, Europe and Southeast Asia, after ‘great success’ in Japan and Australia.

“We are pleased with the results we delivered last year as our portfolio of brands – rooted in quality and craftsmanship – and our geographic diversity continued to benefit our business,” Hughes noted.

Market performance

Despite gains for its portfolio of brands, Beam Suntory noted a ‘challenging environment’ in North America and key markets such as India, China and Spain.

A slowdown in consumer demand in the US resulted in a 2% sales decline in the North America region.

Asia Pacific performed strongly, up by 14.3%, driven by Japan and emerging markets.

Sales in the international region – which includes Europe, Latin America and India – rose by 8%, led by global travel retail.

“While we faced some challenges as an industry, particularly in the US, as we look to 2024, we remain focused on our premiumisation strategy and further building our credentials in the prestige and ultra-premium space,” Hughes explained.

In December, Beam Suntory agreed to sell Courvoisier to Italy’s Campari Group for US$1.2 billion. The deal, which marks the American firm’s exit from the Cognac category, is expected to close this year.

Hughes said the move would allow Beam Suntory to focus on four key categories: premium-plus American whiskey, Tequila, Japanese spirits and RTDs.

He continued: “I’m confident we have the right resources in the right places to put us in a position to win, and I’m encouraged by the signs we are already seeing at the start of this year as we expect consumer demand for spirits to remain strong.”

Beam Suntory is aiming to “elevate” the bottled RTD segment, the firm’s managing director for RTDs said last year.

The company became a minority investor in Delola, a bottled cocktail brand co-founded by singer Jennifer Lopez, in March 2023.

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