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Beam Suntory acquires South Africa’s ABV Brands

Beam Suntory has bought the remaining 50% stake in South African distributor ABV Brands, giving it complete ownership of the company and its own direct route-to-market in the country.

The global spirits producer bought a 50% stake in the company in 2015 from the company’s founders, Ross Calow, Daniel Hawkins and Igor Boyadjian. Last week, the producer acquired the remaining stake, taking full ownership of the company on 18 April.

“Throughout our eight-year partnership, ABV Brands has demonstrated that it has the market knowledge, the commercial drive, and the passion for our brands to deliver consistent, aggressive growth in South Africa,” said Yuri Grebenkin, Beam Suntory’s managing director for alliance and emerging markets.

“South Africa is a high-potential emerging market for Beam Suntory, and brands like Jim Beam and Courvoisier are already establishing category-leading positions. We are delighted to welcome the ABV Brands team to Beam Suntory, and we are looking forward to building on their already impressive achievements as one team.

“I’d like to offer our sincere thanks to Ross and Dan for their partnership throughout the years. They built an outstanding business and we are delighted that Dan will continue to drive our commercial strategy in South Africa.”

The existing ABV Brands team will be integrated into Beam Suntory, with Mark Pockele, formerly Beam Suntory’s Commercial Director for MEA, assuming the role of MD following the departure of ABV Brands’ co-founder and current MD, Ross Calow. Dan Hawkins will remain as ABV Brands’ commercial director along with the existing management team.

ABV Brands was founded in 2010 and has been Beam Suntory’s distribution partner in South Africa since. It became a Beam Suntory joint venture in 2015, with ABV Brands helping to grow the Beam Suntory portfolio in South Africa by more than 50%, driven largely by Courvoisier Cognac, which has seen triple-digit growth and is now the number two Cognac brand in South Africa, as well as Jim Beam Bourbon, which has achieved consistent double-digit growth.

“ABV Brands is extremely proud of the leadership position we have built in this dynamic market over the past eight years, and we are thrilled to be taking this next step with Beam Suntory and its world-class portfolio of premium brands,” added Dan Hawkins, ABV Brands’ commercial director. “We are confident that combining our local expertise with Beam Suntory’s global scale and capabilities will be a winning combination, empowering us to take the business to the next level in South Africa.”

ABV Brands was established in 2010, along with Cyprus-based FIX Wines and Spirits, specialising in the marketing and distribution of imported spirits. Currently, the team distributes brands on behalf of Beam Suntory, Edrington and Bols, including Jim Beam, Courvoisier, The Macallan, Maker’s Mark, Famous Grouse and Bols Liqueurs.

There are currently no planned changes to ABV Brands’ portfolio of products.

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