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Global slump hits Fortune

Published:  30 January, 2009

Fortune Brands saw net sales drop 11% in 2008 as effects of the global downturn began to take hold.

Chairman and chief executive officer Bruce Carbonari said he expected the global economy to "get worse before it gets better, and we expect the challenges of 2008 to continue throughout 2009".

Fortune made a loss of US$275.3 million in the final quarter, compared with profit of $190.7 million in the same period of 2007.

Carbonari said: "Faced with the credit crunch, declining home values and rising job insecurity, consumers are being very cautious.

"At the retail level, we anticipate customers will maintain lean inventories across categories.

"While we anticipate the home products market will decline in the range of 20%, Fortune Brands will benefit from our significant presence in the relatively recession-resistant distilled spirits category, which now provides nearly 60% of our operating income before charges.

"We expect the global spirits market will remain solid and that spirits will remain an affordable luxury."

He singled out Maker's Mark, Courvoisier, Knob Creek, Teacher's and Laphroaig as brands that delivered strong sales in 2008.