SPI Group and William Grant & Sons Agree to Not Renew Contract for Stolichnaya in USA

SPI Group To Establish Importing Company

Nov 14, 2012, 15:39 ET from William Grant & Sons, Ltd.

NEW YORK, Nov. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- William Grant & Sons and SPI Group announce that their current contract for the importation, distribution and marketing of Stolichnaya Vodka in the United States will not be renewed when it expires on December 31, 2013.  The decision is a result of SPI Group's desire to manage its portfolio of brands directly; SPI Group will therefore be establishing its own importing company in the United States during 2013, commencing operations on 1st January 2014.

"Stoli is a remarkable and storied vodka, the crown jewel of the SPI Group and the fastest growing premium vodka in the world," shared Val Mendeleev, CEO, SPI Group. "As a Company with strong entrepreneurial spirit, the time has come for us to make our path forward on our own in the US. We are therefore delighted to announce that we will be creating our own importing company. We thank William Grant & Sons for their contributions to Stoli, we wish them well on their owned brands, and we look forward to what will be a continuing future of innovation and success for the Stolichnaya brand."

William Grant & Sons assumed responsibility for the importation, distribution and marketing of the iconic Stolichnaya brand, often referred to as Stoli, in January 2009. Despite a very challenging economy and heavy competition within the spirits industry, William Grant & Sons and the SPI team returned the trailblazing brand to growth through pioneering initiatives including new creative that declared the Most Original People Deserve The Most Original Vodka, and developed innovative 360 degrees programming to bring that message to life.

"Stoli is an excellent brand and we are proud of the many accomplishments William Grant & Sons has contributed to the success it has enjoyed, and for the part we have played in the history of this iconic brand," stated Simon Hunt, President & Managing Director – North America, William Grants & Sons. "We wish SPI Group the very best for the future of Stolichnaya. As for William Grant & Sons, our owned brands are enjoying unparalleled success, with growth in double digits on all of our core global brands. We are excited for the future and will now be focusing our attentions to continuing to grow those remarkable and celebrated brands."

About WGS

William Grant & Sons, Ltd. is an independent family-owned distiller headquartered in the United Kingdom and founded by William Grant in 1887. Today, the luxury spirits company is run by the fifth generation of his family and distills some of the world's leading brands of Scotch whisky, including the world's most awarded single malt Glenfiddich®, The Balvenie® range of handcrafted single malts and the world's third largest blended Scotch Grant's® as well as other iconic spirits brands such as Hendrick's® Gin, Sailor Jerry® Rum, Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey and Milagro® Tequila.

Among the most recent accolades for the well-awarded company, William Grant & Sons was honored as the "Distiller of the Year" by the International Wine & Spirit Competition for the second year running and the fourth time since 1999. When counted along with the same designation from the International Spirits Challenge, William Grant & Sons has received this title an unprecedented nine times in the past 12 years.

Founded in 1964, William Grant & Sons USA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of William Grant & Sons, Ltd. and features one of the fastest growing spirits portfolios in the USA with brands including Glenfiddich, The Balvenie, Hendrick's Gin, Sailor Jerry Rum, Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey, Milagro Tequila, Stolichnaya Vodka, Grant's, Hudson Whiskey, Gibson's Finest, Monkey Shoulder, Clan MacGregor, Reyka Vodka, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, Lillet, Art In The Age, The Knot, Raynal French Brandy, and BOLS cordials. The company has offices in New York City (sales and marketing) and Edison, NJ (bottling and warehouse facilities). For more information on the company and its brands, please visit www.grantusa.com.

About SPI Group

SPI Group (headquartered in Luxembourg) is the owner of global vodka brands such as the iconic Stolichnaya® Premium vodka range, elit™ by Stolichnaya® and Moskovskaya®. Founded in 1997, SPI operates across over 160 markets and is one of the world's leading wines and spirits organizations active in the production, sale and distribution of more than 380 brands, many of which it owns. The group also operates a network of 75 alcohol retail shops, develops large-scale real estate projects and farms ca.5,000 hectares of agricultural land in Russia. SPI Group has been a strong acquirer and integrator of spirits and wine companies, having completed 15 acquisitions of producers, importers, distributors and retailers of beverages.

SPI's own ultra-modern raw alcohol distillery in Russia is illustrative of the dedication the group has towards all its brands. Stoli's remarkable reputation has been built through a strong focus on quality and ownership of the entire production process. Exceptional purity is achieved by using only the highest quality ingredients and quadruple filtration, whilst bold character is retained by adhering to Stolichnaya traditions of only three times distillation yielding a liquid with complex layers of aroma and flavour.

SOURCE William Grant & Sons, Ltd.