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Beam set to blaze a trail

Published:  23 July, 2008

By Christian Davis
Beam Global Spirits & Wine is aiming to become a top-three global spirits and super-premium wine company, which will mean growth rates of 20% over the next 10 years.

Managing director Ade McKeon, who is well known in the industry having worked for Gallo, Southcorp, Constellation and latterly Allied Domecq's wine division, is bullish that Beam can increase from its present 150 million turnover ($2.5 billion net sales) and 2 million nine-litre case sales to move above Maxxium (in the spirits and fortified wines category), which currently distributes its Jim Beam, Knob Creek, After Shock and Sourz brands.

We have to understand our customers and be fast and fleet of foot, he told Harpers. We have to find new ways of working, to challenge the status quo and not be confined by category conventions. People create great brands and people are at the centre of the business. We have to embrace individuality, diversity and entrepreneurship.'

Based at Prewetts Mill, the old Allied Domecq headquarters in Horsham, West Sussex, McKeon is focusing on a structure with staff empowered to make decisions. We always want people to try,' he said. If they fail, then let them fail quickly and move on. We encourage an entrepreneurial attitude, driven by innovation and reinforced with quick decision making.

By creating a flat company structure we are empowering people to make decisions at the closest point of impact and the result is a dynamic business environment where individuals can really make a difference.

Our vision is to become a top-three global spirits and super-premium wine player, known as a winning company that shapes our industry,' said McKeon. He intimated that the ambitious growth rates could be through organic growth, acquisition or both.

The purchase of Allied Domecq by Pernod Ricard and the subsequent carving up of the brands with Fortune, took the company from number seven to number four. Pernod took Beefeater, Ballantines, Malibu, Tia Maria and Kahlua, while Beam got Courvosier Cognac, Harveys Sherry, Cockburns Port - all number ones in their categories - Laphroaig, Teacher's, Sauza Tequila, Maker's Mark bourbon and Canadian Club whiskey.