Forty Creek Distillery sold to Campari


Milan, 12 March 2014 - Italy's Gruppo Campari has reached an agreement to acquire 100% of Forty Creek Distillery Ltd. (FCD), the leading independently owned whisky company in Canada. This transaction marks Campari's first move into the growing and attractive Canadian whisky category with high-end premium products.

With its flagship brand Forty Creek Whisky, FCD is the fastest growing player in the Canadian whisky category in Canada. Moreover, it is well positioned in the key US market to capitalize on the high potential offered by the Canadian whisky category. A small- to medium-sized distillery, by Canadian standards Forty Creek has 3 stills with capacity to produce the equivalent of 555,000 cases of whisky. Present volumes are significantly lower than that, leaving room for growth under Campari.According to John Hall, FCD founder, and Whisky Maker, "Today’s deal represents a milestone for myself and the entire Forty Creek team. I believe this opportunity will further support Forty Creek’s vision to produce unique, quality, handcrafted, Canadian-made spirits. Campari has the global ability to take Forty Creek to the next level.""Introducing customers around the world to my whisky is a dream come true, Hall continues. I am very excited to continue to devote my time to whisky making at Forty Creek distillery, continuing my whisky journey and exploring my passion for additional Forty Creek whisky expressions."From the perspective of Campari Chief Executive Officer, Bob Kunze-Concewitz's, "With Forty Creek Distillery, producer of the award winning Forty Creek range of premium Canadian whiskies, we are once again leveraging our acquisition framework in a very disciplined and consistent manner for long-term growth. Via the entry to the large and growing Canadian Whisky segment this acquisition further increases our exposure to the highly attractive brown spirits category whilst continuing to enhance our premium portfolio.""Moreover, the addition of FCD will enable us to further build our critical mass in key North American markets, providing us with a strong market position in Canada and positioning us for further growth in our core US market. At the same time, our international route to market will also enable the Forty Creek whisky brand to grow faster out of its core North American market. Lastly, through this acquisition we will also be able to internalise key activities in the Canadian market."John Hall will remain Chairman of the company and Whisky Maker at Forty Creek Distillery. Over the years, Hall has built a very successful Canadian whisky by creating a hand-crafted product, introducing new expressions regularly, and enhancing the brand’s versatility. As a result he has effectively attracted new consumers beginning to turn to brown spirits and looking for a richer taste. He has been instrumental in creating renewed interest in Canadian whisky, today one of the most attractive whisky categories in North America.It is excellent news for Canadian whisky lovers that John Hall will continue to guide the distillery and craft its products. Just a couple of weeks ago Hall had commented that he is very excited about his 2014 Fall Limited Release. He expects to have it in bottles by July so it can recover from bottle shock by the time it is released in September.Campari has agreed to leave all Forty Creek's business structures and processes in place and unchanged in Canada. Therefore, the distillery will maintain its successful business model in Canada while also benefitting from the additional support the Campari organisation can offer there and in other markets.The acquisition includes the full portfolio of FCD including stocks, the distillery and manufacturing facilities and a hospitality center located in Grimsby, Ontario. Grimsby is about an hour due south of Toronto, across the tip of Lake Ontario.FCD brand portfolio includes whisky, vodka, brandy, rum and liqueurs, with Forty Creek Whisky as its core brand. The Forty Creek whisky family includes Barrel Select, Copper Pot Reserve, Forty Creek Cream Whisky and offers high-end, limited releases including Forty Creek Confederation Oak, Double Barrel and an annual special John K. Hall Reserve release. Among others, Campari brands include Wild Turkey bourbon and Skyy Vodka.Forty Creek whiskies won Canadian Whisky of the Year champion three years running at the Canadian Whisky Awards (2010-12) and recently captured five gold medals as Best Tasting Whiskies at the Beverage Testing Institute competition in Chicago (2014).In fiscal year ending 31 March 2013, Forty Creek Distillery achieved total net sales of CAD$ 34.2 million, of which Forty Creek Whisky represents around 62%. In fiscal year ending 31 March 2014, Forty Creek is expecting to reach total net sales of CAD$ 39.5 million, showing an increase of +15.6% compared to the previous year.The total purchase price for 100% of Forty Creek Distillery is CAD$ 185.6 million on a cash free / debt free basis. This corresponds to an EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) multiple of 14.5x 2014 LE (Latest Estimate for fiscal year ending 31 March 2014).The transaction is expected to close on 2 June 2014. The consideration will be fully paid in cash.