Distillery sold to French company

SHAWN CUMBERBATCH, shawncumberbatch@nationnews.com

Added 18 March 2017

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Barbados’ two historic rum companies are expected to play key roles in their French owners’ quest for dominance in the international premium spirits market.

Rémy Cointreau has owned and operated the world’s oldest rum brand, Mount Gay, since 1989, and last year Goddard Enterprises Limited announced it had agreed to sell its 92 per cent stake in the 124-year-old West Indies Rum Distillery (WIRD) to another French company Maison Ferrand for about $25.7 million.

On Friday, Maison Ferrand proprietor Alexandre Gabriel signalled that once the WIRD acquisition was completed the company would focus on enhancing its production and pushing Barbados’ rum under its Plantation Rum brand.

“We are production guys and having our own distillery in the Caribbean has been a dream for many years. It is like getting married. We wanted to find a great match – one for life – and we have found it in West Indies Rum Distillery and the exceptional rum makers there. The team there is as passionate as we are and we can’t wait to start producing delicious rum together,” Gabriel said.

“We control the production of our Ferrand Cognac and Citadelle Gin because we own the facilities in Cognac. We love challenging ourselves to make the best there is and it requires total commitment. We wanted the same holistic involvement for our Plantation Rum, so this investment is the natural course of things for us. We are both excited and humbled by what lies ahead,” he added.

Gabriel explained that since the Plantation Rum brand was launched in 2003, his company had used rum from various Caribbean distilleries to produce the product.

Meanwhile, with the imminent entry of its French counterpart, Rémy Cointreau is moving to enhance the market share held by the 313-year-old Mount Gay brand.

The company’s financial report for April 2016 to December 2016 said that “on the strength of a good third quarter in the United States, Barbados and the UK, Mount Gay recorded strong growth in the nine-month period”.

This followed a half-year report that attributed a “dip” in Mount Gay sales to “the accelerated upscaling process” for the brand, which resulted in “a volume decline in entry-level products”.

Rémy also said that in its 2015/2016 financial year, “Mount Gay Black Barrel confirmed its position as one of the leaders in the high-end rum segment in its new markets”.

“Mount Gay recorded healthy growth for the year. Barbados, its original market posted double-digit growth and the global expansion of its superior quality products (Black Barrel and XO) is an ongoing success, primarily in Western Europe (France and the United Kingdom),” it said. (SC)

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