Cam­pari gets more ag­gres­sive with Ap­ple­ton

Jamaica Gleaner - - BUSINESS - Neville Gra­ham Busi­ness Re­porter

JEAN-JAC­QUES DUBAU, Gruppo Cam­pari’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor for the North Amer­ica re­gion, is tout­ing Ja­maica as a vi­tal part of the spirit that com­pany’s global push, say­ing the group’s var­i­ous busi­nesses are now re­quired to in­cor­po­rate the Ap­ple­ton brand in their plans. Ja­maica sits among the Ital­ian firm’s top six mar­kets, Dubau said dur­ing a stop in Kingston last week, while in­di­cat­ing that it had a lot more po­ten­tial to grow. Statista.com ranks Cam­pari’s Ja­maica rum port­fo­lio at num­ber two in the com­pany’s line-up with an­nual sales of US$119 mil­lion, just ahead of Frangelico and Carolans with US$116.5 mil­lion. Wild Turkey whiskey holds the top spot with US$167.7 mil­lion. Since Cam­pari’s ac­qui­si­tion of J. Wray & Nephew Lim­ited (JWN) four years ago, the com­pany has po­si­tioned Ja­maica as the fo­cal point of its re­gional op­er­a­tions. “The op­er­a­tions here cover Ja­maica and the rest of the Caribbean since this rep­re­sents a hub,” said Dubau in an in­ter­view with Gleaner Busi­ness at JWN’s New Kingston head­quar­ters. Cam­pari wasted no time in lever­ag­ing Ap­ple­ton’s ac­cess to the pre­mium seg­ment of the Amer­i­can, Cana­dian and United King­dom, which is why Ja­maica is prov­ing piv­otal to Cam­pari’s growth, he said. “Ja­maica is a point of ex­cel­lence for us, but the gross po­ten­tial of the do­mes­tic mar­ket is lim­ited. Ja­maica is our hub for the rest of the Caribbean and we have more po­ten­tial to grow the busi­ness,” said Dubau, who at one time served as chair­man of JWN. “To that end, we have com­pletely re­vamped our ex­port team be­tween last year and the be­gin­ning of this year so that we have a more or­gan­ised ag­gres­sive ap­proach to mar­ket­ing,” he said. Dubau re­fused to say just how much money Cam­pari has pumped into the pro­mo­tion of the Ja­maica rum port­fo­lio

over the years, but part of the spend in­cluded a makeover of the pack­ag­ing for the dark rums.

Cam­pari “now knows more about rums and pre­mium rums than when Ap­ple­ton was ac­quired”, he said, while not­ing that all seg­ments of Gruppo Cam­pari must in­clude Ap­ple­ton in their plans.

“It’s a fo­cus for each and ev­ery mar­ket where we op­er­ate. In the five-year plans that our sub­sidiaries pro­vide, they have to cover Ap­ple­ton and they have to show devel­op­ment plans,” Dubau said.

Turn­ing to re­cent prob­lems at the Ap­ple­ton Es­tate fac­tory in St El­iz­a­beth, Dubau ac­knowl­edged the im­pact on su­gar out­put but dis­counted talk that rum pro­duc­tion was neg­a­tively af­fected.

COURT CASE

JWN has been sued by Al­gix over ef­flu­ent the fac­tory re­leases into the Black River, which the fish farm al­leges has dam­aged its op­er­a­tion. Ap­ple­ton Es­tate’s op­er­a­tions were sus­pended as the law­suit wound its way through the courts, and at last re­ports, were ex­pected to re­sume in Jan­uary.

Dubau, while not com­ment­ing on the case, said cer­tain changes to meet en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments pro­grammed for 2017 were ad­vanced.

“There were some tech­ni­cal ef­fects on su­gar pro­duc­tion, but we have wide in­ven­to­ries of aged rums along with in­ven­to­ries of mo­lasses, so we have man­aged to con­tinue rum pro­duc­tion this year, so it has not af­fected our short- or long-term plans,” he said.

In a pos­i­tive spin on the de­vel­op­ments, Dubau said de­spite the loss of su­gar pro­duc­tion, the com­pany got a chance to show com­mit­ment to em­ploy­ees and the sur­round­ing com­mu­nity.

CON­TIN­UES TO PAY OFF

The ac­qui­si­tion of JWN and the Ap­ple­ton brands in 2012 – the Ital­ian com­pany paid more than US$400 mil­lion for the spir­its con­glom­er­ate then known as Las­celles deMer­cado – con­tin­ues to pay off for Cam­pari be­yond just profit, he noted.

The ac­qui­si­tion was part of the Cam­pari strat­egy ex­e­cuted over the past two decades for global growth both or­gan­i­cally and through as­set pur­chases, and that 1995, Cam­pari has made 25 ac­qui­si­tions, he said. JWN was re­ported to be the third-largest deal for Cam­pari over its his­tory, which dates back to 1860.

“Ja­maica was a very good ac­qui­si­tion for us and a big source of tal­ent. We have more em­ploy­ees in here than we have any­where else in the world. When we need peo­ple around the world, we think of Ja­maicans we can send, and we have done that al­ready,” Dubau said.

GLAD­STONE TAY­LOR/PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

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