Campari Group has announced its intention to acquire leading Cognac brand Courvoisier from Beam Suntory in a deal valued at US$1.32bn, that is expected to close in 2024.

This represents the largest purchase in Campari Group’s history and will see the group take over the full Courvoisier brand, including Salignac Cognac, as well as an inventory of maturing eaux-de-vie valued at approximately US$365m, plus the Courvoisier château and visitors’ centre. The associated production facilities include distillation facilities, warehouse space, vineyards, blending facilities, ageing cellars and an automated bottling plant.

Bob Kunze-Concewitz, Chief Executive Officer, Campari Group, said: “We are very pleased to acquire a top four historical Cognac house, Courvoisier, with great latent equity and highly acclaimed expressions. The addition of Courvoisier Cognac to our portfolio of global priorities is a rare and unique opportunity to expand our premium spirits portfolio and Cognac offering.

“By leveraging our heavy Cognac expertise at board and executive team level, Campari Group has a fantastic opportunity to reinforce this brand’s credentials as a global icon of luxury, priming cognac to become Campari Group’s fourth major leg along with aperitifs, bourbon and tequila.

“Concomitantly, we are looking forward to accelerating our premiumisation journey, further enriching our RARE portfolio, the division created to unlock and accelerate the growth potential of a select range of high-end individual expressions in our core premium spirits markets.”

While Courvoisier is the youngest ‘big four’ Cognac house, it has historically received the accolade of Official Supplier to the House of the Emperor by Napoléon III, as well as being chosen to celebrate the inauguration of the Eiffel Tower and the opening of Moulin Rouge. More recently, it has excelled in international spirits competitions, and is the only Cognac house to receive the Prestige de la France title.

In 2022, Courvoisier achieved net sales of US$249m, and net sales from 1 January 2023 to 31 October 2023 were US$148m. Beam Suntory attributes this 33 per cent decline compared to the previous year to normalising consumption after a post-COVID peak in sales.

Greg Hughes, President and CEO of Beam Suntory, is pleased by the efforts that Beam Suntory have made to the growth of the Courvoisier brand.

“We are proud to have nurtured the iconic Courvoisier brand for nearly 20 years, investing in its growth across key global markets and transforming it into a symbol of modern luxury and an industry leader in awards and sustainability. The brand is very well positioned for its next chapter of growth, and we are confident that Campari Group is the right partner to take Courvoisier into the future. This move will allow us to further focus our portfolio on our core areas of strength as we accelerate our global growth ambitions,” he said.

Despite current downwards trends driven by consumption normalisation and inflation-related price increases, the long-term prospect of the Cognac category is a promising one. Premiumisation trends continue across the globe, particularly in the US and China. China is a key region for Cognac, as it is the spirit’s top region by value, with a market dominated by premium VSOP+, XO and Prestige variants. Additionally, international spirits are growing in popularity in China, especially among younger demographics and residents of major cities. As for the US, premiumisation across the dark spirits category remains strong, and demographic and macro trends indicate that 2024 will see an end to the current downward trend in sale value.

The acquisition of Courvoisier will add to Campari Group’s portfolio of premium French brands, which began with the acquisition of Grand Marnier in 2016 and now includes Bisquit Dubouché Cognac, Trois Rivières rhum, Champagne Lallier, and Picon. Campari Group has been focusing on premiumisation within these brands, through upgraded packaging and bottle design and investments into liquid quality and ageing. This strategy has proven effective with Grand Marnier, which has increased in size by 1.3 times since Campari Group acquired the brand.

Matteo Fantacchiotti, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Campari Group, anticipates the opportunities that the Courvoisier brand will bring for Campari Group in the Asia Pacific market.

“In what is the biggest deal in Campari Group’s history, Courvoisier will enable a significant step up in the US while also permitting long-term transformational potential in the strategic Asia Pacific region. In addition to acquiring a globally recognised brand with strong premiumisation credentials, we have a unique opportunity to expand our Cognac production and bottling capacity in France, a core platform of our global supply chain.

“Our recent investments into business infrastructure and enhanced operation capabilities, combined with Campari Group’s formidable reputation for investing in brands with strong equity and potential for long-term sustainable growth will allow us to unlock Courvoisier’s full potential.

“We are very excited to further build upon our premium portfolio of brands in the US, simultaneously adding significant leverage into China and the wider Asia Pacific arena, while also expanding the premium innovation platform for our cognac portfolio,” Fantacchiotti said.

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