Liquor Industry News 1-24-13

Franklin Liquors


Australia: Local bottle shops linked to mental health


Source: WA Today

January 24, 2013


The number of neighbourhood liquor outlets has been linked to harmful drinking behaviour.


While being within walking distance of your local corner bottle shop may be convenient, a Perth university has found a link between the number of neighbourhood liquor outlets and harmful drinking behaviour, in first-of-its-kind research.


People with more liquor shops close by were found to have higher levels of harmful drinking and worse mental health than those who live further away.


In a study of nearly 7000 adults, the University of Western Australia used geographical mapping to connect people to the location of all licensed alcohol outlets in Perth – with the data producing some concerning results.


Harmful behaviour and higher levels of alcohol consumption was more common if people could buy alcohol close to their home, said Associate Professor Lisa Wood, deputy director of UWA’s Centre for the Built Environment and Health.


“We found that the average number of standard drinks per day and the rate of harmful alcohol consumption increased for each additional alcohol outlet in a neighbourhood.”


Research also showed the likelihood of being treated in hospital for anxiety, stress or depression increased as the number of alcohol outlets within walking distance (1600m) of the home increased.


“Our findings underscore the importance of limiting both the number of liquor store licences and the geographic density of outlets as a way to improve mental health and reduce other alcohol-related harm,” Associate Professor Wood said.


The study reinforced the WA Health Department’s five-year plan for a healthier WA.


“One of the suggestions in the five-year plan is limiting the density of alcohol outlets,” she said.


“While the association between alcohol outlet density and injury, crime and violence are well documented, this is one of the first studies internationally to specifically look at how this might impact on mental health disorders.”




Navy: Random Alcohol Tests for Sailors in US


Source: AP


January 24, 2013


The Navy said Wednesday it will conduct random blood-alcohol tests on its sailors in the United States starting next month, a sign of how concerned the service’s leaders have become about the effects alcohol abuse is having on the force.


The tests are part of Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ 21st Century Sailor and Marine Initiative, an expansive program intended to improve the well-being of sailors and Marines after more than a decade at war.


The Marines announced it would carry out its own random alcohol tests last month. While alcohol has long played a part in the Navy’s culture, Navy officials stressed they aren’t trying to stop sailors from drinking altogether, but are concerned about their health and safety.


The Navy said it will use the blood-alcohol tests to determine whether someone is fit for duty or may need counseling. Any sailor whose blood-alcohol level is .04 or higher when reporting for duty won’t be allowed to work. In all 50 states and the District of Columbia, a driver with a 0.08 percent blood-alcohol is considered drunk.


A positive test result for a sailor reporting to work – a reading of 0.02 percent or higher – won’t be used to punish sailors. But the Navy said it could be used to refer him or her to a drug and alcohol program adviser.


Adm. Mark Ferguson, vice chief of naval operations, said the random tests could help spot sailors who need support before “an incident occurs due to the irresponsible use of alcohol.” He also wrote in a message outlining the new details of the policy to the fleet that the tests will serve as a safety measure and raise awareness among commanding officers of a crew’s “culture of alcohol use.”


Alcohol is of particular concern because of the role it frequently plays in other destructive behaviors such as suicide and sexual assault. Alcohol also has played a factor in the dismissals of a number of commanding officers in recent years.


“Deterring irresponsible use of alcohol is essential to the readiness of our fleet and ensuring the health and safety of our service members and units,” Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces, said in a statement.


In a pilot program with 13 commands this past summer, nearly 7,500 sailors were subjected to random alcohol tests. Of those, 87 tested positive for alcohol.


“The test verified that the majority of our service members, who choose to drink alcohol, do so responsibly. It also verified that our commanding officers need a flexible program that serves to increase the Navy’s awareness about the impacts of alcohol,” Gortney said in a statement.


By May 24, the Navy expects to have hand-held alcohol detection devices available for nearly 2,000 commands.


The 21st Century Sailor and Marine Initiative was unveiled by Mabus in a rare ‘all-hands’ call aboard a ship in Norfolk last March that was broadcast to sailors around the world. Among other things, it also focuses on preventing suicides, sexual assaults and increasing physical fitness. The Navy has also begun conducting random urine tests for synthetic drug use under the initiative.


Unlike the alcohol tests, those who test positive for synthetic drug use are subject to punishment.




Ohio high court takes up lawsuit affecting liquor bonds


Source: Reuters

Jan 23 2013


The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday resuscitated a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law behind the scheduled sale of about $1.5 billion of revenue bonds this week.


The high court agreed to take up the question of whether a liberal advocacy group has standing to sue over the 2011 law that spun Ohio’s job and economic development programs off to a private entity called JobsOhio, according to Brian Rothenberg, executive director of ProgressOhio, which filed the lawsuit.


Under the law, Ohio’s liquor enterprise and its revenue were transferred to JobsOhio, which in turn was authorized to sell long-term bonds backed by future liquor revenue.


Rothenberg said the bonds should not be sold until the constitutional question of Ohio Governor John Kasich’s plan funneling public money to a private entity to oversee job creation and economic development efforts is resolved.


“It’s reckless and irresponsible for the Kasich Administration and Wall Street to even entertain selling the bonds while the constitutional question is out there,” he said.


JobsOhio Beverage System was slated to sell on Wednesday about $1.1 billion of taxable senior lien liquor profits revenue bonds through J.P. Morgan Securities and another $423 million of tax-exempt bonds through Citi.


The status of the bond sale was not clear, although JobsOhio issued a supplement on Wednesday to the deal’s preliminary official statement that noted the court’s decision to take up the standing issue without adding new details. An attorney representing JobsOhio could not be immediately reached for comment.


Laura Jones, a JobsOhio spokeswoman, said in a statement that the bond sale involved a number of steps and that JobsOhio was continuing to work on those steps.


“While we don’t comment on pending litigation I can tell you that we are confident in our legislated mission to help businesses grow and create jobs for Ohioans,” the statement said.


Proceeds from the bond sale were earmarked to pay off outstanding state debt backed by liquor revenue, provide $500 million for Ohio’s general fund and raise about $225 million for JobsOhio’s operations, according to Moody’s Investors Service, which rated the bonds A2 with a developing outlook due to the litigation.


Connie Wehrkamp, a spokeswoman for Kasich, said the governor’s office remained confident the supreme court will uphold lower court rulings that found ProgressOhio and others that filed the lawsuit have no standing to sue.


“Additionally, it continues to be beyond our understanding why anyone would fight against job creation when it’s so important to Ohio and our continued economic recovery,” she added in a statement.




Barclays Capital Reaffirms Overweight Rating on Pernod Ricard SA (RI)


Source: JAGS

by James Brewer

Jan 23rd, 2013


Barclays Capital reaffirmed their overweight rating on shares of Pernod Ricard SA (EPA: RI) in a research note released on Wednesday morning. They currently have a $140.00 (?105) price target on the stock.


Other equities research analysts have also recently issued reports about the stock. Analysts at Nomura reiterated a neutral rating on shares of Pernod Ricard SA in a research note to investors on Tuesday. They now have a $121.33 price target on the stock. Separately, analysts at CA Cheuvreux reiterated an underperform rating on shares of Pernod Ricard SA in a research note to investors on Monday. They now have a $121.33 price target on the stock. Finally, analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein reiterated a market perform rating on shares of Pernod Ricard SA in a research note to investors on Thursday, January 10th. They now have a $135.06 price target on the stock.


Shares of Pernod Ricard SA traded up 0.24% during mid-day trading on Wednesday, hitting ?91.19. Pernod Ricard SA has a one year low of ?72.74 and a one year high of ?92.30. The stock’s 50-day moving average is currently ?87.65. The company has a market cap of ?24.030 billion and a P/E ratio of 21.06.




New Belgium brewery’s Kim Jordan talks about beer, business, Quakers



Jan 24th


The beermaking began a few years earlier, in their Fort Collins basement, but the empire formally started in 1991, when Jeff Lebesch and Kim Jordan, then married, started selling the stuff.


They called the company New Belgium. It is now the seventh-largest brewery in the U.S., according to the Brewers Association, and poised to get bigger: New Belgium is building a brewery in Asheville, N.C., a project that will get its Fat Tires, Snow Days and Biere de Gardes distributed along the East Coast.


Jordan, 54, the daughter of liberal activists who grew up in California and Washington, D.C., started her career in social work before turning to suds. She and Lebesch divorced, and she is New Belgium’s chief executive.


Her unique route toward corporate management – helping poor people and messing around with fermentation in a basement, instead of an MBA and decades of plotting and angling – informs the whole New Belgium culture. Year after year, the sprawling brewery is voted the best work environment in the United States. It donates a lot of money to charities while pursuing an aggressive green approach to beermaking. Just this month, the company announced that it now is 100 percent employee-owned.


Normally, we ask People and Places candidates to select a favorite spot other than their workplaces, but New Belgium isn’t exactly a routine kind of office. The “lobby” is a tap-filled tasting room. Employees can take a slide to get from the second to first floors. Foosball? Of course (and Jordan is very good). It’s the proverbial second home for Jordan, whose Spartan, small office suggests a CEO who spends more time among colleagues than cooped up in some lavish approximation of the Batcave.




Driving drunk on a Segway is legal, Minnesota court rules



By Emily Gurnon



Hopping on your Segway after you’ve had a few drinks is not driving drunk under Minnesota law — because a Segway is not a motor vehicle, the Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled.


A Hennepin County man was stopped by police Feb. 4 and charged with driving while impaired after the officer saw his Segway drifting twice across the center line in the road, according to the court ruling made public Tuesday, Jan. 22.


His blood alcohol level was 0.19, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08, the ruling said.


Mark A. Greenman, 48, of Hamel said Tuesday that he was pleased with the judges’ decision tossing the charges against him.


“I think the court got it right,” he said. “I think that if people want to take the Segway to the bar, they can do that now. And I think they always should have been able to.”


Greenman, an employment attorney practicing in Minneapolis, said he was playing in a pool tournament at Inn Kahoots bar in Hamel, less than a mile from his home.


He was on his way home, on his Segway, when the Medina police officer stopped him.


A Hennepin County district judge threw out the charges.


It was not the first time Greenman had been pulled over while on his Segway. The district court also dismissed DWI charges in a 2010 case against him.


He was intoxicated again while driving the device March 16, according to court records. Prosecutors charged him after that incident with first-degree driving while impaired. That case is scheduled for a hearing Feb. 20. Greenman waived his speedy trial rights pending the Court of Appeals decision. His attorney in that case did not immediately return a call seeking comment.


In making its Tuesday ruling, the Court of Appeals relied on a previous decision that involved James Anthony Brown, an intoxicated disabled man driving his motorized scooter on a Grand Rapids sidewalk in July 2009.


The Court of Appeals ruled in that case that the scooter was not a motor vehicle for the purposes of the law. The law defines “motor vehicle” in part as “every vehicle which is self-propelled,” excluding “an electric personal assistive mobility device.”


“Had the Legislature intended to prohibit drivers from operating Segways while under the influence of alcohol, the Legislature could have included a specific provision proscribing that conduct, as it has done in so many other instances,” wrote Judge Margaret Chutich for herself and Judge Natalie Hudson.


The third judge on the three-judge panel, Judge Roger Klaphake, dissented. He wrote that “vehicle” as defined in traffic regulations includes “every device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway …” and is self-propelled. The Segway meets that definition, he wrote.




Treasury in takeover bid speculation


Source: Decanter

by Richard Woodard

Wednesday 23 January 2013


Speculation is growing that Penfold’s and Wolf Blass owner Treasury Wine Estates could be a takeover target, with a rumoured price tag as high as A$4bn-plus.


According to reports in the Australian press, analysts are increasingly convinced that Treasury Wine Estates will be the subject of a takeover bid, as the Australian wine industry returns to balance after years of over-supply issues.


Despite declines in recent months, the company’s share price has climbed by well over one-third since it was spun off by former parent company Foster’s in May 2011.


Analysts believe China is the most likely source of a serious bid for Treasury, as reports come in of Chinese interest in wineries including Chateau Tanunda and Yering Station owner Rathbone Wine Group.


Sales of Australian wine in China have been booming in recent months, posting strong double-digit increases in the year to the end of September.


Treasury, the world’s second biggest wine business and formerly part of Foster’s, was the subject of much takeover talk before it was demerged from the rest of the Foster’s beer business in May 2011.


Shanghai-based Bright Food was widely reported to have considered a takeover bid in the summer of 2010, and private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management tabled an unsuccessful bid of A$2.5bn later in the year.


There has been no comment from either Treasury or Bright Food.




Bacchus Capital Invests in Wine Import and Distribution Company


Maritime Adds Nine North Brands to Its Portfolio



by Cyril Penn

Jan 23rd


Private equity firm Bacchus Capital Management has announced making an investment in Maritime Wine Trading Collective, the San Francisco-based wine import, production, and distribution firm. Concurrent with the investment, Maritime is adding Nine North Brands, a producer of Napa and North Coast red wines, to its portfolio.


The announcement marks Bacchus’ seventh deal in the wine industry – its first with an importer and marketer. Terms were not disclosed. Bacchus typically makes investments in a range of $2 million to $7 million.


“We were pleased to put our capital to work immediately, with Maritime’s addition of the Nine North brands,” Sam Bronfman, co-founder and managing partner of Bacchus Capital said in making the announcement. Bronfman also said that adding a company with sales and marketing capabilities to its portfolio may provide value for Bacchus’ winery partners.


Maritime Wine Trading Collective’s portfolio includes Graham Beck of South Africa and Jules Taylor of New Zealand, in addition to wines from Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Sicily, and Canada. The company was founded by Chris Nickolopoulos and Elijah Pfister in 2009 and expects to market 130,000 to 140,000 cases of wine this year with the addition of Nine North.


In an interview, Nickolopoulos described Maritime, as “on the big side of small, but much smaller than the big players.”


Nine North, founded in Napa Valley by James Harder and Jim Regusci, was included on Wine Business Monthly’s Hot Small Brands list for 2006. Volume has since grown to reach 55,000 cases of wine per year, though the company has little marketing or sales staff.


Founded five years ago, Bacchus’ portfolio companies are Sbragia Family Vineyards, Andretti Winery, Pietra Santa, Qupé, and Wine by Joe. Bacchus previously provided financing for Cameron Hughes Wine and emphasizes a “flexible approach” to capital, from debt to equity financing.


“We’re always on the lookout for good businesses in the wine space run by people who are good at what they do,” Bacchus co-founder and managing partner Peter Kaufman said.


Nickolopoulos said the capital provided by Bacchus will allow the company to continue to grow, primarily by adding people. “One of the great things about the industry that we all enjoy that it’s a small, sometimes incestuous industry that’s relationship based,” he said. “Brands get built by people.”


Bronfman, a former chief executive for Seagram Chateau and Estate Wines, said that while Seagram marketed well-known, international brands, Maritime has built brands and developed its own brands. “They come at it from a wonderful perspective that I respect tremendously: the entrepreneurial side. They’ve done a good job of establishing a very successful distribution platform. I think they’re going to grow beyond the large side of small.”




Price hiked for ‘Two-Buck Chuck’




January 22, 2013


It’s the end of an era for “Two-Buck Chuck,” the wine that earned a nickname and notoriety for its surprisingly low price.


For the past decade, shoppers at Trader Joe’s stores in California have paid just $1.99 for a bottle of Charles Shaw shiraz or cabernet sauvignon. But the new price, $2.49, takes a little longer to roll off the tongue.


So what will the shoppers, who came up with the moniker “Two-Buck Chuck,” call it now?


“Inflation Chuck,” said Matt Tucker, 28, a cook from Santa Rosa.


“Upchuck,” said Lisa Garrett, 50, of Stewarts Point, saying her suggestion reflects the price increase, not the wine’s drinkability.


The Charles Shaw brand was able to maintain such low prices for so long in part because its parent company, Bronco Wine Co., owns 45,000 acres of vineyard land, said Harvey Posert, spokesman for Bronco. That helps the company ride out wild fluctuations in grape prices like those the industry has seen in recent years.


“If there’s one grape too many, the price dips,” Posert said. “If there’s one grape too few, the price zips up. In the sense of being the largest grape grower, Bronco can ride many of these ups and downs.


“But there were bad crops in 2010 and 2011, and that certainly impacted the industry,” he said.


Even so, the retail price is set by Trader Joe’s, Posert said. A display case in the store’s wine aisle labels Charles Shaw as Trader Joe’s best-selling wine. The brand sold about 5 million cases last year, Posert said.


“In general, our retail prices change only when our costs change,” Alison Mochizuki, director of public relations for Trader Joe’s, said in an email. “We’ve held a $1.99 retail price for 11 years. Quite a bit has happened during those years and the move to $2.49 allows us to offer the same quality that has made the wine famous the world over.”


Most shoppers outside a Trader Joe’s store in Santa Rosa said the wine is still a good value at $2.49.


“My friends all like it,” said Virginia Schrock, 86, of Santa Rosa. “Nobody sticks up their nose if you serve ‘Two-Buck Chuck.’ ”


On the other hand, many shoppers in Wine Country have steered clear of a brand that’s still too cheap for their tastes.


“You can’t really take it to a party where people know wine,” said Barbara Levinson, 63, of Santa Rosa. “I have a lot of friends in the wine business, so they’re kind of particular. Snobby.”


Most customers have taken the price increase in stride, a clerk said, except for one unhappy buyer who pointed out that Whole Foods still offers its “Three Wishes Wines” brand for $1.99 a bottle.


One shopper thought the higher-priced wine could simply be called “Chuck,” while others said it’s still close enough to $2 to keep its nickname.


Or the wine brand could cash in on the recent San Francisco 49ers victory, with “49 Just in Time” or “Two Champions,” Garrett said.


Even though the wine long has cost more in other states — it’s known as “Three-Buck Chuck” in some East Coast markets where it sells for $2.99 a bottle — for some California customers, paying more than $2 for Charles Shaw wine will never feel right.


“It’s blasphemy,” Tucker said, with a trace of irony. “People should maybe protest or boycott.”




Bordeaux to bounce back in 2013


Source: the drinks business

by Rupert Millar

23rd January, 2013


As prices stabilise and Robert Parker prepares to re-evaluate 2010, Jon Barr, director of EF Wines, has declared “Bordeaux appears to be back”.


Bordeaux 2011Speaking to the drinks business, Barr said that Lafite sales were strong again in Hong Kong, although he added that, “this may just be for the Chinese new year.”


Nonetheless, he continued: “It’s stabilised and people are getting interested again. Prices haven’t gone down, Liv-ex is showing some rises, I think it will be a good year”.


His comments come after a year when Bordeaux was subject to severe price drops as the market took a dip and as buyers branched out into other areas, notably Burgundy, Champagne and the Super Tuscans.


Nonetheless, while the first growth’s 2005s and other big vintages took a hit, other Bordeaux châteaux especially on the Right Bank and some more neglected vintages such as 1996 did see some good trade.


Barr added that with Parker having re-tasted the 2010s, interest may rise in that vintage when the scores are released, something that happened to the 2009s early last year.


Looking ahead to this year’s en primeurs, Barr said that they would, as always, be dominated by the issue of price.


The reports so far, which db has covered extensively, point to a small but good vintage.


This may prove as much of a stumbling block as it did for 2011, which failed to excite the interest of Parker, who said it would “bomb”, and the majority of the US press and was badly bungled by the Bordelais upon release.


The danger, as Barr noted, is that the small volumes will encourage producers to keep prices up, but, he warned, “it can’t work if it’s like 2011. I see a slow campaign again.”




Maison Sichel reports 21% uplift in value


Source: Harpers

by Carol Emmas

23 January 2013


Bordeaux-based producer and négociant Maison Sichel has reported a 21% value growth for 2012, making it the company’s second best year since it was established in 1883.


There has been a balance of growth across all markets with no one region outperforming the other. Europe is still the strongest market, and the US and Canada performed well alongside Asia and China.


Wines which performed particularly well in 2012 were Château Trillol, from the company’s property in the Languedoc-Roussillon, Sichel’s Bordeaux Supérieur estate, Château Argadens, and its flagship brand, Sirius, whose sales increased by a sizeable 11.2%, with its best markets being Japan and Canada.


Export director Charles Sichel said: “Given the state of the global economy, our results for 2012 were very positive. We have been working to maintain our strengths in all markets around the world, not just responding to growth opportunities in countries like China, which still remains a complex market to do business in, despite demand.”


Maison Sichel exports more that 75% of its wines, with the UK accounting for approximately 30%.




New way to identify ‘smoked’ grapes and wines


Source: EurekAlert

Jan 23rd


With climate change sparking concern about an increased risk of wildfires, scientists are reporting development of a way to detect grapes exposed to smoke from those fires, which otherwise could be vented into bad-tasting wine. Their report on the method for detecting smoke taint in both grapes and wine appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.


Yoji Hayasaka and colleagues point out that Australia and other areas of the world are experiencing an increase in bush and wildfires, which may continue and intensify with global climate change. Smoke from those fires can travel long distances and poses a special threat for wine grapes. Grapes exposed to smoke yield wines with unpalatable aromas and tastes, sometimes described as resembling “smoked meat,” “disinfectant” or a “dirty ashtray.”


In an effort to manage or avoid production of smoke-tainted wines, they developed a test for the substances formed in grapes after exposure to smoke. They describe its development and laboratory tests demonstrating that the method can determine whether grapes have been smoke-tainted before they were crushed and pressed into wine. The test also can identify smoked wines.


The authors acknowledge funding from Australia’s grape growers and winemakers through their investment body, the Grape and Wine Research Development Corporation, with matching funds from the Australian government.


The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.




C-store total poised to surpass 150,000 units


Source: RT

January 23, 2013


The latest data from Nielsen shows the number of U.S. convenience stores continues to expand and last year set a new record with 149,220 units.


That figures is up 1,094 units from the prior year so the increase amounts to only a 0.7% gain, according to the 2013 National Association of Convenience Stores/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count. Even so, the growth is noteworthy at a time when overall expansion of selling space in the broader retailer industry has remained stagnant even though the recession officially ended in 2009.


“Our continued growth shows that our core offer of convenience resonates with customers, whether a fill up, quick snack or drink or for fill-in groceries or take-out meals for time-starved consumers,” said Dave Carpenter, chairman of the NACS trade group and president and CEO of Denver-based J.D. Carpenter Companies Inc.


The convenience retailing industry continues to be dominated by single-store operators, which now account for nearly 63% of all convenience stores, but the fastest growing segment of the industry is among operators with more than 500 stores. The store count among companies with more than 500 units grew by 8.9% to 21,738 stores, compared to the less than 1% growth that saw units operated by independents increase to 93,819 stores.


Convenience stores now account for 34.8% of all retail outlets in the United States, according to Nielsen, and the total count of slightly more than 149,000 units is double what it was in 1982.




Chili’s bets on pizza to drive sales, margins


Source: NRN

Ron Ruggless

Jan. 23, 2013


A systemwide rollout of the new pizza platform at Chili’s Grill & Bar, along with other menu enhancements, are expected to bolster the casual-dining chain’s bottom line, executives at parent company Brinker International Inc. said this week.


Chili’s is rolling out the pizza, which uses new capabilities gained during the chain’s kitchen retrofit program, to all company-owned locations this quarter, said Wyman Roberts, chief executive and president of Dallas-based Brinker.


“We’ll bring it in to our franchise system once their new kitchens have been installed, more toward the end of the quarter,” Roberts said. “Then we will go on the air with these new products during the fourth quarter.”


In addition to 1,549 Chili’s restaurants, Brinker also owns the 44-unit Maggiano’s Little Italy concept. The discussion of the new pizza program, a major menu addition to Chili’s, best known for Southwestern fare and Big Mouth Burgers, comes as Brinker reported a second-quarter profit increase and an uptick in same-store sales.


Securities analysts looked favorably on the pizza’s food costs. Stephen Anderson, senior restaurant analyst with Miller Tabak + Co LLC, said in a note that Brinker’s food cost outlook had moderated, heading toward the lower end of the management’s guidance of 2 percent to 3 percent in the fiscal year.


“We expect the rollout of pizza throughout the Chili’s system to be slightly beneficial to food cost margins (relative to Chili’s more traditional protein-based entrées),” Anderson wrote, “and we think strong customer acceptance of this new permanent menu item may push [Brinker’s] food cost guidance below the 2 percent guidance.”


Anderson estimates each 25 basis-point reduction in food costs, or each 0.25-percent reduction – “which is what we think the pizza introduction could provide,” the note said – translates into an incremental earnings per share gain of between one and two cents, when all other factors are equal.


Anderson added that he expected Brinker to maintain “tight scrutiny over food costs through both menu engineering and skilled contracting.”


Brinker’s newly-minted chief executive Roberts added that the pizza is positioned as a single-diner meal, and that Chili’s hasn’t seen it being shared extensively. “We have kind of designed it around an individual portion,” he said. “It’s a good portion, so maybe you can take some home, and we’re not seeing a lot of sharing, and obviously the cost of sale on that item is very favorable.”


Besides pizza, Chili’s in December introduced some other new menu items, Roberts said.


“We freshened our ‘Lighter Choices’ category with new mango-chile chicken and mango-chile tilapia, and standard appetizer and dessert categories with the introduction of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and soft pretzel appetizers, items that work well with our new kitchen equipment,” Roberts said.


The new menu items are partially the product of Chili’s new ovens and other equipment that were part of the retrofit kitchens. Guy Constant, Brinker’s chief financial officer, said Chili’s is on track to complete the retrofits at all domestic franchise-owned restaurants by the end of March.


“We have completed 255 Chili’s reimages to date and by the end of fiscal 2013 we anticipate being complete on 370 company-owned restaurant reimages,” he explained. “We now have fully completed the reimage in 11 markets with an additional four markets in progress.”


Brinker is also planning to again start adding restaurants to its domestic count after a four-year hiatus from growth, Roberts said. Openings will be “in the neighborhood of 12 Chili’s in the next year and two to three Maggiano’s,” he noted.


“We haven’t really built restaurants in the U.S. in quite a while, so there are some opportunities that have made themselves available over the last few years that we’ll take advantage of,” he said.


On Tuesday, Brinker reported net income of $37.2 million, or 50 cents per share, for the second quarter ended Dec. 26. In the same quarter a year earlier, Brinker earned $35.7 million, or 44 cents per share. Revenue rose 1.1 percent to $689.8 million.




Fuller,Smith &Turner 42-Weeks Like-for-Like Sales +2.6%, Traded Well


Source: Dow Jones

Jna 24th


Brewer, Hotels and pub operator Fuller, Smith & Turner PLC (FSTA.LN), said Thursday that the company traded well, in the nine weeks to Jan. 19, with like-for-like sales in Managed Pubs and Hotels up 4.5%, bringing the like-for-like sales growth for the 42 weeks to 2.6% from 2.1% after 33 weeks.




-Like-for-like profits in the Tenanted Inns division grew 1% for the 42 weeks, having been level after 33 weeks.


-Total beer volumes in the Fuller’s Beer Company remained level, as they were after 33 weeks.


-The Company’s balance sheet and cash generation remain strong. Net debt still reduced to GBP136.1 million on Dec. 29, 2012, from GBP137.3 million at the half year.


-Net debt to EBITDA–proforma for the impact of acquisitions– also declined to 2.6 times, from 2.7 times at the half year.


-Shares closed Wednesday at 761.0 pence, valuing the company at GBP244.9 million.




Texas: Not everyone embracing Sunday liquor store bill


Source: Seguin Gazette

Thursday, January 24, 2013


A bill has been introduced in the Texas Legislature to allow liquor stores to stay open on Sunday, but store managers and owners are not supporting it.


State Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, filed House Bill 421 on Jan. 9. If passed by both houses of the Legislature and signed into law by the governor, the bill will allow liquor stores in Texas to be open from noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday.


Since before the adoption of Prohibition, Texas liquor stores have been required to close on Sunday.


“I think it sucks,” said Mark Moore, manager of Zella’s Liquors, 1052 E. Kingsbury in Seguin. “I’m not going to do it,” Moore said about staying open on Sundays if the bill becomes law.


Thompson’s bill also proposes to increase the hours liquor stores are allowed to be open on the other days of the week. Currently, they can be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday. HB 421 adds two hours to the schedule, authorizing the stores to be open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday.


Moore had the same comment about the longer hours: “I’m not going to do it.”


Like other liquor store owners and managers across the state, Moore said opening on Sunday will increase costs more than it increases sales.


“In other states, it’s been done,” he said. “They had a 6 percent increase in sales, but it cost another 17 percent in labor and time.”


Since 2002, 14 states have repealed bans on Sunday liquor sales including neighbors New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mexico. Sunday liquor sales currently are allowed in 36 states.


Moore isn’t the only store operator who has no plans to open on Sundays if the law is changed.


“I ain’t gonna do it,” said Velma Biltjinitis, owner of Pooter’s Liquor Store, 4110 N. Highway 46. “I am not going to open on Sundays – absolutely not.”


She said changing the law is being pushed by distributors and politicians and not by liquor store owners, managers and employees.


“I wish we had to close on Sunday and Monday,” Biltjinitis said. “It (opening on Sunday) is not going to help my business.”


Regarding the extended hours, she said she definitely wouldn’t start opening earlier. “We don’t open until 12 o’clock during the week anyway,” Biltjinitis said.


She seemed less certain about whether or not to take advantage of the bill’s extending closing time from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.


“You can get what you want before 9 o’clock,” Biltjinitis said. However, she conceded that it might be helpful to some of her customers if the store stayed open until 10 p.m.


In Texas, more than 35,000 restaurants are allowed to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption on Sunday. Beer and wine sales for off-premises consumption are allowed at supermarkets and convenience stores after noon on Sunday. Only the state’s 2,460 liquor stores are prohibited from opening their doors on Sunday.


Similar legislation failed to go anywhere during the 2011 session of the Legislature. State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and State Rep. Jose Aliseda, R-Beeville, filed companion bills that would have allowed liquor stores to open on Sunday, but both bills were pending in committees when the 2011 session ended.




Maine: Liquor director says contract can make money


Source: WCSH6

Jan 23, 2013


The director of Maine’s Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery says he’s confident the state can make a lot more money than it does now from liquor sales.


The state is currently in the final year of a ten-year contract with a private company that manages Maine’s wholesale liquor business. That contract included a one-time payment of 124-million dollars, and a small annual share of the profits. In 2011, according to the Bureau, that annual share abouted to a little over $8 million. But Bureau director Gerry Reid says he believes a new contract can bring the state as much as $30 million dollars a year, and result in lower liquor prices for consumers.


Reid says he wants a new contract for the wholesale business to avoid the up-front payment and instead have annual payments to the state. Under his plan, the bureau would have more involvement with the wholesale operations, although there would still be a wholesaler to process orders and payments, and a distributor to actually warehouse and deliver the liquor to retailers.


The state would continue to set retail prices, as it does now, but Reid wants to lower prices to compete with New Hampshire.


Democratic leaders in the Legislature aren’t ready to support the plan yet. They say the details so far have been too sketchy, and they question how much direct involvement the bureau should have in the wholesale business.


However, the larger debate in the Legislature will be over the eventual use of the income from that contract. Gov. Paul LePage wants to use the liquor money to pay off the state’s debt to hospitals. Democrats have been critical of that plan.


Gerry Reid says he hopes the Legislature will consider the issues separately, and approve the plans for a new contract so he can then advertise for proposals and begin negotiations.Reid says the goal; is to have a new contract signed by the end of this year.

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