Wild Turkey sales slip, failing to buoy bad quarter for Campari

Campari expects rebound

Editor's note: This piece was published initially on May 15 on the Financial News pages of BourbonStory.com. We're streamlining the content, so it all flows through the home page, and have moved this story as a result. 

By Michael A. Lindenberger

WASHINGTON --The boom in bourbon has been so strong that it's eye-opening to read of a giant whiskey brand and its parent company reporting sharply decreased year-over-year sales. But that's exactly what happened Thursday when the Italian conglomerate Grupo Campari announced that its sales have slumped during the first three months of 2014 compared to last year. Overall it earned $28.4 profit against $395 million in sales worldwide. Last year, it earned $54 million in the same quarter on $432 million in sales.

Campari owns Austin Nichols Distillery in Nicholasville, Ky., makers of Wild Turkey bourbon. 

It says that about 2/3 of its revenue decrease comes from currency exchange costs, and says turmoil in Russia triggered a near-50 percent decline in sales in that country. 

So how did Wild Turkey do? Not as well as you might have expected. In Australia, the firm announced, ongoing weakness in the demand for brown liquors took its toll.  

The Wild Turkey line accounts for 9 percent of Campari's total sales, and about half (51 percent) of that is the traditional bourbons. The rest is split evenly between Wild Turkey Honey and Wild Turkey Ready to Drink single-serve beverages. 

Overall, Wild Turkey sales were down 6.5 percent this year versus last, a decline that actually hit the company's pocket books as if it were 15.4 percent due to the currency exchange risks.

Other notes

  • The bright spot for the company, which says its sales in April have already rebounded overall, was single-serve products in Italy, its largest market.

  • The company is closing on its purchase of Canadian distillery Forty Creek Whisky, in Ontario.

  • Wild Turkey's visitor center opened this month, as noted by the Lexington Herald-Leader's bourbon writer, Janet Paxton

Michael Lindenberger (@bourbonstory) is Editor of Bourbon Story Magazine. Send him ideas, compliments or complaints at bourbonstory@gmail.com.