brand and bottle

Fortune Brands Ditches Name for a Shot of Beam

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 4, 2011 05:01 PM

They say to never mix business with pleasure but it’s been working for the folks at Jim Beam since 1795.

It’s been working so well, in fact, that Fortune Brands ditched its non-liquor-related businesses and changed its name to Beam Inc. on Tuesday, when it began trading under its new moniker on the New York Stock Exchange.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Beam president and CEO Matt Shattock celebrated the change Monday in the Bluegrass State, where the company will build “the company’s global research and development center,” according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Shattock also “unveiled a new logo for the company," whose execs will ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Friday to celebrate its new public identity.

Back in August, the Beam Global Spirits & Wine part of Fortune Brands unveiled its new corporate branding featuring the word “Beam” in the script of fourth-generation distiller James B. Beam. The new logo, according to the press release, "a nod to Beam’s unique, family-driven heritage across its portfolio of leading brands."

Fast forward to yesterday, when Fortune Brands completed the previously announced separation of its business units, with the spin-off of the Fortune Brands Home & Security business and the rebranding of Fortune Brands, changing its name to Beam Inc. to reflect "its singular focus as a leading global premium spirits company."

Looking ahead, Bloomberg notes that the new Beam Inc. — the world’s fourth-largest liquor company with such brands as Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Effen Vodka, and Sauza tequila in the fold — is prepared to make acquisitions to help grow the company.

“We won’t feel constrained in terms of the scale,” Shattock said to Bloomberg. “We have a strong and very flexible capital structure and that gives us the opportunity to contemplate various types of transactions.” 

Tim Ramey, an analyst with D.A. Davidson & Co., told Bloomberg that Beam may purchase smaller organizations “that aren’t on the radar” and also could go much larger and buy brands like Bacardi rum or Constellation Brands Inc.’s Svedka vodka. “The spirits business globally remains quite fragmented,” said Ramey, Bloomberg reports. “They will be a consolidator.”

Acquisitions, though, will take a backseat to pushing the brand, though. “New versions of established brands (are coming) in the U.S. and boosting sales of Jim Beam bourbon and Teacher’s whisky in overseas markets including India and Latin America” is the priority.

In the past few years, Bloomberg notes, Beam has taken control of 75% of the distribution of its own products worldwide, which means that when an acquisition is made, it will be easier to consolidate distribution of products and for new brands to reach larger numbers of potential consumers.

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