Brown-Forman Sales Up 7% Through First Three Quarters, Fueled By High-End Whiskies

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SHANKEN: Brown-Forman continues to benefit from strong growth in the whiskey and Tequila categories, with its net sales rising 7% to $2.5 billion on an organic basis during the nine months through January, representing the first three quarters of its fiscal year. Operating income surged 11% to $894 million during the period. In the company’s third quarter, sales were up 6% to $878 million, while operating income grew 5% to $304 million.

Progress was driven by Brown-Forman’s Jack Daniel’s franchise, which posted year-to-date sales growth of 7%, led by the brand’s core Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey (+5%). Overall, Brown-Forman’s U.S. net sales were up 5% for the nine months on an organic basis, benefiting from the launch of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye as well as growth across the franchise, including Tennessee Honey and Fire as well as Gentleman Jack.

The company’s higher-end whiskey offerings also carved out strong gains, with Woodford Reserve’s global net sales up 25%, and Tequila brands Herradura and El Jimador made similarly strong showings, rising 19% and 13%, respectively, for the nine months. According to Impact Databank, Jack Daniel’s was up 1% by volume in the U.S. last year (excluding flavors) to 5.2 million cases, while Woodford Reserve crossed a half-million cases on 19% growth and El Jimador rose 11% to 570,000 cases.

Though growth in Brown-Forman’s core U.S. market remained solid, export markets such as the U.K. (net sales +10%), Germany (+16%) and Australia (+10%) reported particularly robust progress. Emerging markets, meanwhile, performed well, collectively rising 19%. Net sales in Mexico (+13%) and Poland (+25%)—Brown-Forman’s two largest emerging markets—were up significantly, while Russia, Turkey, Brazil, Thailand, China, and Ukraine also enjoyed double-digit sales gains.