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Opinion backs Budvar in name dispute

A SENIOR European legal adviser has backed Czech brewer Budejovický Budvar in its ongoing legal battle with Anheuser-Busch (now AB InBev) over the rights to use the Budweiser brand name. Verica Trstenjak, an advocate general at the European Court of Justice, advised the court to rule against Anheuser-Busch in its bid to ban Budvar from using the Budweiser name in the UK. It is one of several challenges lodged by Anheuser- Busch in different markets. The advocate general’s opinion is non- binding, however, and the court will make its decision at a later date.

Hotel firm

forms Alliance APEX Hotels has

appointed Alliance Wine to supply its five Scottish hotels.

Under the deal Alliance will supply four hotels in Edinburgh and one in Dundee with a bespoke wine list.

Apex commercial

director Andrew Taylor said: “Alliance Wine has a unique ability to blend specialist wine knowledge with a clear grasp of the commercial requirements. We have a partnership with Alliance Wine that has allowed us to introduce a range of quality wines that offer something different to the consumer.”

FSB launches manifesto

GREATER support for small businesses should be at the heart of political debate and campaigns ahead of the Holyrood elections in May. That’s the message

from the Federation of Small Businesses, which launched its manifesto last month. “It is a great opportunity to debate how we can help Scotland’s small businesses do what they do best – create jobs, revenue and economic activity,” said the FSB’s Andy Willox.

4 - SLTN - February 17, 2011 Pub closures and shift to off-trade drinking blamed as key brands are hit

Vodka on ice as Smirnoff suffers

GUINNESS and Smirnoff vod- ka were said to have toiled as drinks giant Diageo saw sales grow just 1% in the six months to the end of last year. Against a backdrop of “chal- lenging” trading conditions, Smirnoff suffered as the shift in consumption patterns from on to off-trade continued and drinkers bought on promotion in shops and supermarkets. Scotland’s top selling spirit

was also hit in the second half of the year thanks to trade customers “stock building” in the first half, in anticipation of duty going up in June. These pressures contributed to a 16% fall in sales for the six months to December 31, 2010. Meanwhile, pub closures and consumers’ preference for lager during last summer’s World Cup were said to have contrib- uted to a drop in sales of Guin- ness, which Diageo didn’t pro- vide a figure for. There was more positive news for GB on wine, with its wine business delivering “strong” sales growth of 18%. Sales of Morgan’s Spiced and Baileys (2%) grew, and the

Guinness sales toiled in the second half of last year amid what boss Simon Litherland (right) said were “challenging” conditions.

firm’s premium Reserve Brands division delivered a “robust” performance in Britain, driven by what was described as strong growth for Tanqueray gin. Although trading conditions

are expected to remain difficult, Diageo GB boss Simon Lither- land said the firm will continue to invest in brand marketing. “Great Britain remains a challenging consumer and eco- nomic environment, although we are seeing some signs of a fragile recovery,” he said.

“Across the country, the in- dustry and our consumers continue to feel the effects of the duty escalator and VAT in- crease on alcohol beverages. “Diageo GB will continue to focus on building collaborative customer relationships in both the on and off-trades as we expect the consumer environ- ment to remain challenging.” Globally, Diageo recorded a 2% rise in net sales to £5.32 billion in the six months to De- cember 31, 2010. Economic

pressures in Greece, Spain and Ireland contributed to a 13% sales dip in these markets, with sales across the continent down 3% in the six month period. Chief executive Paul Walsh said “momentum is building” in the business.

“Despite the economic weak- ness in much of Europe, our first-half performance gives me increased confidence that we will improve on the organic op- erating profit growth we deliv- ered in fiscal 2010,” he said.

Wine giant sells wholesaler stake

MATTHEW Clark said it’s busi- ness as usual at the drinks wholesaler – despite the sale of one of its co-owners to a private equity firm. Constellation Brands offload- ed its 50% stake in the on-trade specialist earlier this month as part of its disposal of a major- ity stake in its Australia and UK business (Constellation Wines Australia and Europe) to Champ Private Equity in an AUS$290 million deal. Constellation had co-owned

Matthew Clark with pubco Punch Taverns since 2007. Sydney-based Champ Private Equity has renamed Constella- tion UK and Australia, which includes wine brands Hardys, Banrock Station, Kumala and Echo Falls, Accolade Wines; Constellation has retained a 20% stake in the business. Matthew Clark said in a state-

ment that the deal will not alter its day to day operations. “Matthew Clark Holdings is an independently-run business, of which Constellation Europe is a 50% shareholder with its joint partner Punch Taverns,”

Matthew Clark said the change of ownership will have no impact on its operation. it said.

“This change of ownership has no impact on Matthew Clark’s business. Both Matthew Clark Wholesale and Wine Studio are independently-run businesses wholly-owned by

Matthew Clark Holdings.” Constellation chief execu-

tive Rob Sands said the firm will work with Champ Private Equity to distribute and supply each other’s products around the world.

“The Constellation Wines

Australia and Europe business sells quality wines from the im- portant Australian appellation and has significant scale but continues to be faced with chal- lenging market conditions,” he said. “Therefore, the business is no longer consistent with Con- stellation’s strategy.” Champ managing director

John Haddock said Accolade Wines has capacity for growth. “I think everyone knows there are a number of challenges fac- ing the wine industry but it’s an important industry and we will be enthusiastic advocates for it,” he said.

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