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Issue 50 - Missed opportunities

Whisky Magazine Issue 50
September 2005


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Missed opportunities

Dave Broom on the demise and eventual death of Allied Domecq

So, farewell Allied-Domecq.
You were the No.2 drinks firm in the world.
But no-one knew what brands you had.
Someone said to me you didn't either.
So you didn't fare as well as you could have.
[with apologies to E. J. Thribb]

As far as these things go, the take-over of Allied by Pernod- Ricard (Chivas Bros.) and Fortune Brands (aka Jim Beam) was a pretty swift and painless transaction. The question why Allied's board wanted to sell just as the firm appeared to have turned the corner financially is unclear. Maybe they were simply bored with being number two.

Allied was always a strange beast. It had a fine blends and, potentially, great portfolio of malts, but did nothing with the latter, bar Laphroaig. The Allied way was to try a new marketing ploy, then drop it a few months down the line before it had had a chance to build momentum. Glendronach was dabbled with, then discarded.

Scapa was ignored. So was Ardmore. That is, ironically, until the last 18 months when an apparently long-term programme of investment and brand building was initiated, with credit to Michael Cockram. Then what? The company is sold! That was very Allied.

So, what happens now? Sadly, it's too late to rebuild the Dumbarton grain distillery, but it has given Chivas Bros. a serious whisky portfolio. Chivas Regal, Ballantine's and Teacher's are all million-plus case brands and investment in the first two will cause some concern at Johnnie Walker.

At the time of writing it is too early to say how the A...

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