Grand Met loses second US deal

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The Independent Online
GRAND Metropolitan has lost the right to distribute the Grand Marnier liqueur brand in the US less than six months after losing the agency business for Absolut vodka, writes John Shepherd.

IDV, the drinks arm of Grand Met, said the loss of a second leading brand in America in such a short time was coincidental. Annual sales of Grand Marnier in the US were 400,000 cases.

The Grand Marnier account was won by Schieffelin & Somerset, the New York-based wines and spirits business jointly owned by Guinness in the UK and Moet Hennessy in France.

Moet, in which Guinness has a 34 per cent stake, last year bought an 8 per cent investment in Marnier- Lapostolle, owner of the liqueur.

Grand Marnier retails at dollars 30 ( pounds 20) a bottle in America. Analysts reckon the account yielded annual profits for Grand Met of between pounds 5m and pounds 10m. Absolut, which was won by Seagram, was said to make pounds 25m of profits.

Tony Greener, chairman of Guinness, said: 'Grand Marnier further enhances our position as one of the leading spirits companies.' It assumes control of the account next January.

Moet already handles distribution for Grand Marnier in Japan and the UK. Grand Met will still distribute the brand in Australia, Portugal, Greece, Spain and Italy.

Grand Met, which bounced straight back with a deal with Stolichnaya vodka after losing Absolut, is keeping its plans to replace Grand Marnier secret. 'We have our ideas, but we have nothing to say. We don't stand idle,' it said.

Last year the company sold more than 1.2 billion bottles of spirits, which generated pounds 561m of profits.