News

VIN DIVINO LTD. ANNOUNCES NAME CHANGE TO GONZÁLEZ BYASS USA 

Thursday, June 09, 2016 1:23:00 PM

Three Years after Acquisition of Chicago-based Importer, González Byass Makes Its Market Presence Known

Source: Colangelo & Partners              

May 25, 2016

In August of 2013, Spain's González Byass, a family-owned producer of fine Spanish wines, Sherries and premium spirits, announced its acquisition of Chicago-based importer Vin Divino Ltd. Today marks the official change of Vin Divino's name to González Byass USA (www.gonzalezbyassusa.com); the United States is the fifth country where González Byass operates as an importer, along with Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany and Mexico. In addition, they have an import team in the Far East.

The decision to control its own distribution in key international markets is a major long-term strategy for the company.

González Byass USA's remainder of the portfolio includes wines from Italy, Austria, and France, and continues to grow. In 2015, the company began importing for three new French brands - Champagne Palmer, Leon Beyer, and Domaine de l'Arjolle - and continues to look to add wineries that are the best representations of their regions.

 

"The name change reflects the completion of the transition period between Vin Divino and González Byass' previous importer. We now have distribution control over the full range of the González Byass portfolio, and can focus solely on continuing to expand the company's presence in the market," says Len Nowicki, President of González Byass USA.

Coinciding with the name change, the distribution of González Byass' spirits portfolio has returned to González Byass USA with the following products: the Lepanto Brandy de Jerez range, the Soberano Brandy range, and Chinchón anise liqueur. González Byass USA will also continue to import The London No 1 Gin, which was launched in the U.S. market by Vin Divino in 2014. The company has continued to introduce several new products to the U.S. in 2016 as part of its continued push into the market, including: Nomad Outland Whiskey, which is aged in both Scotland and Jerez, and Beronia Rueda, a 100% Verdejo that is a result of the Rioja producer's expansion into Rueda. Focus products for the U.S. market continue to be Tio Pepe and the Sherries as well as Beronia Rioja.

"We have achieved a great deal over the past three years as a result of the relationship between Vin Divino and González Byass," says Board of Directors Chairman Mauricio González-Gordon. "The popularity of Spanish wine in the U.S. continues and we're very optimistic about the future of our business here."

Share This Using Popular Bookmarking Services

Losing to Craft Beer, Anheuser-Busch Starts Playing Dirty in Seattle 

Thursday, June 09, 2016 1:19:00 PM

A state investigation found the King of Beers skirting the rules to claw its way into Seattle's independent beer scene.

 

Source: Seattle News

By Daniel Person

May 18 2016

 

On Oct. 3, 2015, the rock band Overkill played the Showbox in downtown Seattle. But two of the people in the crowd weren't there for the thrash metal.

 

Rather, Jeanne Reschan and Kraig Seltzer wanted to see what beers the venue had on tap. To a casual observer, the offerings at the Showbox might look pretty diverse: A Goose Island from Chicago, a 10 Barrel from Bend, an Elysian from down the street, and, for the less adventurous, Bud and Bud Light.

 

However, to Reschan and Seltzer, the beer list raised a red flag.

 

Operating undercover for the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board, the officers were looking into allegations from a small brewer that accused Anheuser-Busch InBev of cutting a deal with the music venue to gain exclusive access to its bar, thus cutting off small competitors from a lucrative market. The night of the Overkill concert wasn't doing much to disprove the allegation: While Goose Island, 10 Barrel and Elysian have kept their own names and handles, they are today wholly owned subsidiaries of Anheuser-Busch. The aquisitions are part of the mega-brewer's attempt to get a cut of the huge craft beer market that was created in part to provide people an alternative to marginal offerings like Budweiser. On further inspection, Reschan and Seltzer counted 15 beers and hard ciders on tap or in bottles that were for sale at the Showbox that night. All of them were either partly or wholly owned by AB.

 

These findings were included in an evidence report charging AB with exerting "undue influence" on the Showbox, Showbox SoDo and Marymoor Park, all owned and operated by AEG Live NW, with food and drink services provided by Wolfgang Puck Catering. While a bar serving only one brewery's products is not in itself illegal, the state is charging that AB, working through a third-party distributor, entered into sponsorship contracts at the three venues to achieve a monopoly position, which does run afoul of regulations. Based on its findings, the state has fined AB $150,000. The complaint does not name AEG or Wolfgang Puck Catering as parties.

 

AB denied any wrongdoing during an informal hearing last week, meaning the case will be heard by an administrative judge some time this summer. However, whatever the outcome, the case clearly shows the effect AB's recent shopping spree of popular craft breweries could have on beer consumers and makers if left unchecked.

 

The state's investigation of AB's business practices comes as craft brewers across the country raise alarm at what appears to be large breweries' more aggressive marketing tactics after years of losing ground to small competitors. Last October, Reuters reported that the U.S. Justice Department was investigating charges that AB made deals with beer distributors that locked out smaller competitors. As Reuters put it, "Once AB InBev buys a distributor, craft companies say they find that they can't distribute their beer as easily and sales growth stalls."

 

"We are looking into a lot of these practices. This is a nationwide issue. Our director has gone to several states just to talk about these problems," says Jennifer Dzubay, a commander in the LCB's enforcement division. "Are we seeing it? Yes. I think it's becoming more prevalent everywhere in the United States."

 

To the consumer, though, these developments have been obscured by the fact that the corporation has so many beer labels to work with, a product of its ongoing efforts to purchase craft breweries across the country.

 

"With the big guys buying all the brands, it is hard to tell" when a single brewer takes over a bar, said Brian Smith, spokesman for the LCB. Regarding AB's monopoly at the Showbox, "I wouldn't know, and I drink beer."

 

According to the LCB complaint, in addition to the documentation provided by the undercover officers at the Overkill show, managers at the Showbox admitted that AB had exclusive access to its bars.

 

Posing as event organizers looking to rent the Showbox Sodo for a private event, one officer asked whether they could have Coors Light served. An employee at the venue "shook her head 'no' and said they had an agreement with Anheuser-Busch." The LCB says an investigation later turned up the agreement, which covered the Showbox, Showbox Sodo, and Marymoor Park through December 2016. In all, Dzubay says, the investigation took "five-to-seven months."

 

Dzubay says AB is not the only company trying to put this kind of pressure on bars. However, she says investigations into the claims are often frustrated by unspoken agreements that are common in the buddy-buddy world of beer distribution.

 

"What's difficult on the enforcement said is that there are often verbal contracts we don't see. We'll get complaints we'll dig into, but then we need someone to testify," she says. "We haven't closed a lot of these cases. We can't get the documents . or we don't have the testimony."

 

However, in this case the bar managers didn't seem to know the agreement with AB was not in line with state law, and so were more forthcoming than usual, Dzubay says.

 

While the case brought by the LCB pertains to a fairly arcane piece of alcohol regulation, Dzubay contends that practices uncovered by her division do hurt Seattle's beloved craft beer industry.

 

"There is some truth that the little guys have to fight harder because the big guys are paying to get in, buying their way into the market," she says.

 

As it happened, just prior to news breaking about the fine-first reported by Beer Marketer's Insights and verified through a public records request-Seattle Weekly spoke to Steve Luke, who was a brewer at Elysian but left to start his own brewery, Cloudburst, shortly after AB bought Elysian in January 2015. He noted that on a national scale, AB's attempts to corner markets through distribution and sponsorship deals speaks to why people should avoid their products.

 

"AB InBev has been bleeding for the last five to six years. They're bleeding to craft beer, which has been seeing growth. They would love to kill the craft beer industry and that's why people shouldn't be drinking their products," Luke says. When it comes to AB's purchase of small breweries, "They'll say, 'This is a way of getting this great beer to more mouths,' and that's bullshit to me. It's such a disingenuous veil."

 

We have a message into Anheuser-Busch's corporate media line for comment.

 

Update: After this story posted, a spokesperson for AB provided this comment by email: "AB does not agree with the allegations in the Notice. AB met with the state recently and will continue to respond to the Board in a timely manner."

 

Asked if anyone from AB would be available to elaborate on the case, the representative said the above is all AB would be saying about the matter at this time.

Share This Using Popular Bookmarking Services

Illinois: Amid Budget Deficit, Illinois Considers Taxing Sugary Drinks 

Thursday, June 09, 2016 1:18:00 PM

Source: AP

by IVAN MORENO

May 19, 2016

 

Lawmakers scrambling to find money to fix Illinois' multibillion dollar deficit are looking to sugary drinks as one potential source of revenue.

 

Taxing distributors of sodas, energy drinks and other sugary beverages was among the revenue-generating ideas a group of lawmakers proposed to Gov. Bruce Rauner and other legislative leaders last week to try to finally end a nearly yearlong impasse that's left the state without a budget.

 

Illinois is facing a $5 billion-and-growing deficit. Lawmakers are also considering raising the state income tax from 3.75 percent to 4.85 percent and making budget cuts as part of an overall deal Rauner wants contingent on getting pro-business, union-weakening reforms. And while a resolution to the budget stalemate remains elusive, those who support taxes on sugary drinks and the beverage industry are preparing for a possible fight on an idea that pops up frequently nationwide.

 

The proposal in Illinois would impose a penny-per-ounce tax on distributors of bottled sugar-sweetened beverages, syrups or powders. Estimates vary on how much the tax would bring in, from $375 million to $600 million a year.

 

Health advocates concerned about obesity rates and related illnesses like diabetes welcome the tax, while businesses say it would lead to job losses and pricier drinks.

Which innovative new product has been a game-changer this year? Tell us & win! Learn More

 

"This is a regressive proposal that will increase grocery costs for hundreds of everyday products and hit those who can least afford it, and it will also do nothing to improve public health outcomes," said Jim Soreng, executive director of the Illinois Beverage Association.

 

Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia also tax sugary-drink distributors, according The Council of State Governments. In Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenny is proposing a 3-cents-per-ounce tax on sugary-drink distributors to help pay for preschool programs, park renovations, and other initiatives. Health advocates in Boulder, Colorado are also trying to ask voters in November to tax distributors.

 

With the tax in Illinois, the additional cost to distributors would be passed on to consumers and Soreng said the price of a three 12-packs of soda would jump from about $11 to nearly $17.

 

But supporters of the tax say discouraging consumers from buying sugary beverages is the whole point.

 

"If we can reduce the cost of health care, overall that's a benefit to the economy," said Elissa Bassler, CEO of Illinois Public Health Institute and executive director of the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity.

 

In Illinois, 28 percent of adults were considered obese in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 20 percent of children in the state are obese, the Illinois Department of Public Health said.

 

"It is no different than how we look at the detrimental effects of cigarettes," said Chicago Democratic Sen. Donne Trotter, one of the legislators proposing the idea of a sugar tax. "It makes an impact on all of us."

 

Illinois lawmakers have proposed the tax for years without much momentum, but this time might be different, said another lawmaker behind the proposal.

 

"I think as the hole in our budget becomes deeper, the need to look for various sources of revenue brings the bill closer to realization," said Rep. Robyn Gabel, an Evanston Democrat.

 

Bassler said she hopes lawmakers use all of the revenue from the tax to help fund Medicaid and health initiatives to reduce obesity rates.

 

But the same reason the tax has momentum now makes it less likely lawmakers would use all the money for health programs. Gable said she expect most of the money would go into the state's main checking account.

Share This Using Popular Bookmarking Services

Here Are the 20 Drunkest Cities in America, Ranked 

Thursday, June 09, 2016 1:16:00 PM

Source: Complex

By Amanda Wicks

May 18, 2016

 

It's no secret Americans love their alcohol. Just look at Anheuser-Busch's attempt to rebrand Budweiser by renaming it 'America' for six months. But there are some cities that enjoy drinking much more than others. A new report released Monday listed the 20 drunkest cities in the U.S., and many are located within a stone's throw from one another.

 

The Midwest has a penchant for booze, according to the study published by 24/7 Wall St. Seventeen out of 20 cities on the list are from the region with 11 cities located in Wisconsin alone. Appleton, Oshkosh-Neenah, Green Bay, and Madison make up the top four drunkest cities with La Crosse-Onalaska, Fond du Lac, Eau Claire, Wausau, Sheboygan, Racine, Janesville and Milwaukee rounding out the rest of Wisconsin's big drinkers. In total, the site looked at 381 metro areas to examine the percentage of adults who report drinking to excess. Here's how they ranked:

 

20. Corvallis, OR

19. Iowa City, IA

18. Lincoln, NE

17. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI

16. Janesville-Beloit, WI

15. Racine, WI

14. Grand Forks, ND-MN

13. Missoula, MT

12. Sheboygan, WI

11. Wausau, WI

10. Mankato-North Mankato, MN

9. Eau Claire, WI

8. Ames, IA

7. Fond du Lac, WI

6. La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN

5. Fargo, ND-MN

4. Madison, WI

3. Green Bay, WI

2. Oshkosh-Neenah, WI

1. Appleton, WI

 

Appleton, aka the drunkest city in America, boasts a binge drinking rate of 26.8 percent of the population. By comparison, the national rate for binge drinking is 18 percent of the population. Binge drinking also differs between men and women. For men, it takes five drinks or more to hit that designation, whereas it's four drinks or more for women, the Center for Disease Control reports.

 

In addition to ranking cities by binge drinking rates, the study also examined how many bars were located within city limits, which can often factor into higher percentages of excessive drinking. Number six on the list, LaCross-Onalaska, had more bars per capita than any other city in the U.S. There were 6.9 bars per every 10,000 people in the city while the average city only has 1.6.

 

As for Madison, it's not the first time the city has earned an alcohol-related title. In 2015, the University of Wisconsin-Madison placed third on Princeton Review's list of Top Party Schools in America.

 

Sarah Van Orman, executive director of University Health Services at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told Complex over the phone, "I don't think any of us that work in health in Wisconsin are surprised by this. There is other data that would support it. Wisconsin has the highest binge drinking rate among all adults in the country. Not just among students, but among our adult population in the state."

 

To combat binge drinking, UWM has set about creating and implementing several programs to help educate students. Van Orman explained how it was less about getting the students to not drink, and more about making them aware of alcohol's effect and how it can contribute to negative climates. "We've done a lot of things differently now than we did five years ago. All students have to do an online problem that gives them a basic understanding." The university requires first-year students to complete an hours-long course within their first few weeks on campus. It's all part of a mission to change the climate that looks upon binge drinking favorably, or at least neutrally, to understand how it impacts both individuals and communities.

 

As for the rest of us? There's more than enough evidence that we're doing our share of binge drinking elsewhere, as well.

Share This Using Popular Bookmarking Services

On Heels of DOJ Antitrust Contempt Action, Congress Told to Roll Back Antitrust Protection in Music Licensing 

Thursday, June 09, 2016 1:15:00 PM

by Matt Schruers on May 19, 2016

Less than a week after agreeing to pay $1.75 million to the Department of Justice to settle an investigation into antitrust misconduct, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) was on Capitol Hill yesterday, asking lawmakers to roll back the consent decree to which the performing rights organization is bound.  

On May 12, DOJ had asked a federal court to hold ASCAP in contempt, stating that the PRO had “undermined a critical protection of competition” and violated its federal commitments.  Concurrently, DOJ and ASCAP filed a settlement relating to the alleged misconduct.  

As DisCo has previously covered, two federal courts found “troubling coordination” among ostensible competitors in the music publishing industry, which contributed to Justice’s recently concluded investigation.  The 7-figure settlement is a stark reminder of the continuing need for antitrust protections, even as Congress is being asked to relax those commitments.

The inherent opacity of who owns what, and where money goes in music licensing exacerbates efforts to achieve a more competitive music marketplace.  It’s hard for a small business to decide whether to accept or refuse an offer (or demand) to take a license when it’s incredibly difficult to reliably determine who owns what.  Transparency remains a persistent problem in music licensing.  But the ASCAP settlement focused on a more specific problem: that the PRO had, on 150 occasions, prohibited its members from licensing directly to music services and other distributors — i.e., it had prohibited cutting out the middlemen.

Just this week, I noticed a songwriter complaining on social media that while Spotify’s music analytics reported his songs were being played thousands of times, his PRO was only sending quarterly checks for a few hundred plays of one of his songs.  This is exactly the sort of problem that might make someone want to cut out the middlemen — which is why DOJ’s continued oversight remains so important.

Share This Using Popular Bookmarking Services

ASCAP Just Proved The Continuing Need For The Consent Decrees 

Thursday, June 09, 2016 1:13:00 PM

Posted on May 16, 2016
The licensing mega-group’s settlement with the DOJ is proof that the consent decrees are as important and relevant as ever.

By Mike Montgomery

On Friday, the American Society of Composers and Performers agreed to pay the Department of Justice $1.75 million to settle allegations of anticompetitive behavior. Despite the presence of consent decrees that specifically bar ASCAP (and BMI) from interfering with songwriters’ ability to strike direct deals for the licensing of their works, the licensing behemoth was caught red-handed flexing its oversized market muscle to block – not once, not twice, but 150 times – its songwriter and publisher members from licensing their performance rights directly to streaming services.

ASCAP is basically agreeing to do what it was legally required to do all along, but now throwing nearly $2 million down the drain that should instead have been distributed to songwriters.

It would be unbelievable were it not so typical of ASCAP’s consistent bad behavior.

ASCAP (and BMI, which collectively hold the rights to 90 percent of all music licenses) has proven how willing it is to wield its market power to squash competition, which harms songwriters and the prospects of a healthy, modern music marketplace. They trot their members out to Capitol Hill to cry poverty then report record annual royalty revenues of $1 billion – where is all that money going? They claim to have the best interest of their songwriters at heart, but at the same time leverage their enormous market power and comfy relationships with publishers on their Board (a clear conflict of interest that DoJ also is shutting down as a result of the settlement) to prevent songwriters from negotiating direct deals that may actually be in their best interest.

ASCAP’s response to DoJ? They had the audacity to say, “(w)ith these issues resolved, we continue our focus on…key reforms to the laws that govern music creator compensation.”

Why should the government award such behavior by even considering altering the consent decrees? The consent decrees have protected artists and helped enable the rise of music streaming, which is proving to be the most promising new revenue source for artists since the CD came along. Clearly they remain not only relevant, but essential.

Allowing a few big players at the top to use their market power to artificially increase the pricing of music won’t help songwriters. What it will help do is divert revenue opportunities from songwriters, chill innovation and competition, and turn consumers away from legal sources of music.

It doesn’t take a Berklee degree in Music Business to see that this will ultimately lead to a depression, not acceleration, in royalty revenues for songwriters and artists and what’s needed is increased transparency and a continuing adherence to the consent decrees.

Whether ASCAP likes it or not, the consent decrees work. They keep those tempted by untoward acts in-line. If anyone thinks that wouldn’t happen without the consent decrees, they need only to look to ASCAP’s settlement for proof.

Mike Montgomery is executive director of CALinnovates, a technology advocacy coalition.

Share This Using Popular Bookmarking Services

California: Beverage Industry Loses Bid To Halt San Fran Soda Warning 

Thursday, June 09, 2016 1:08:00 PM

Source: Law360

By Suevon Lee

May 17, 2016

 

A California federal judge on Tuesday refused to block a San Francisco ordinance requiring health warning labels for advertisements for soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages, saying the city has a reasonable basis to enforce the ordinance due to its interest in public health and safety.

 

Trade groups representing the beverage and advertising industries had asked U.S. District Judge Edward M. Chen to preliminarily enjoin the San Francisco ordinance, arguing that the mandate violates their members' free speech and unfairly singles out sugar-sweetened beverages for contributing to the obesity epidemic.

 

The ordinance, set to take effect on July 25, requires ads for soda and other sugary drinks on posters and billboards in places like arenas, stadiums, and bus and train stops to display the following: "WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco."

 

Judge Chen in a 31-page ruling denying the motion for preliminary injunction said it wasn't likely that plaintiffs American Beverage Association, California Retailers Association and California State Outdoor Advertising Association would succeed on their First Amendment claim that the ordinance impinges their free speech rights under a "rational basis" test prescribed for commercial speech per the 1985 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel of Supreme Court.

 

"The city has a legitimate interest in public health and safety, and the warning that SSBs contribute to tooth decay is reasonably related to the city's interest in public health and safety," he said.

 

Tuesday's ruling clears the way for San Francisco to establish a system warning the public about potential links of sugar-sweetened beverages to health issues like weight gain, heart disease, diabetes and tooth decay. Cautionary text must be framed by a rectangular border and fill up at least 20 percent of advertisement space. The ordinance applies to non-alcoholic beverages containing caloric sweeteners of more than 25 calories per 12 ounces of beverage, not including milk, milk alternatives and 100 percent natural fruit and vegetable juice.

 

The trade groups argued in an April hearing before Judge Chen that the warning label's assertion that sugary drinks contribute to health risks was not proven, but rather the subject of legitimate factual debate. They also claimed that the ordinance would silence their member drink companies since they wouldn't be interested in paying for advertisements that must display these warning labels. They also argued that the ordinance should be reviewed under a strict scrutiny analysis.

 

Judge Chen said applying the highest level of scrutiny was not warranted because the ordinance doesn't restrict commercial speech, only requires the disclosure of certain information.

 

Next, he determined that the warning label conveys factual and accurate information.

 

"There is no real dispute as to the literal accuracy of the required warning," he said. "Although there may be a legitimate scientific debate as to how exactly [sugar-sweetened beverages] contribute, both sides agree that, at the very least, [the drinks] can contribute to weight gain because they provide calories, and that weight gain can lead to obesity and diabetes."

 

He noted that such drinks are a "significant source of added sugar" and cited the federal government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans highlighting soda, energy drinks, sports drinks and others as "major sources of added sugars in the diets of Americans."

 

He also rejected the trade groups' contention that the 20 percent size mandate of the warning would have a chilling effect on speech, pointing out that the tobacco industry successfully incorporated health warnings into similarly covered advertisements without pulling such ads altogether from the public view.

 

Thus, the judge held that because the trade groups weren't likely to succeed on their First Amendment claim, show irreparable harm was likely in the face of the ordinance, demonstrate that public interest weighs in their favor or that the balance of hardships falls sharply in their favor, a preliminary injunction should be denied.

 

Representatives for the parties didn't immediately return a request for comment on Tuesday.

 

The American Beverage Association is represented by Richard Bress, James Lynch, Marcy Priedeman, Michael Bern and John Cooper of Latham & Watkins.

 

The California Retailers Association is represented by Thomas S. Knox of Knox, Lemmon & Anapolsky LLP.

 

The California State Outdoor Advertising Association is represented by Andrew Santo Tulumello, Charles Joseph Stevens, Helgi C. Walker, Jacob T. Spencer, Joshua David Dick and Theodore B. Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

 

San Francisco is represented by City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Deputy City Attorneys Jeremy Goldman, Wayne Snodgrass and Christine Van Aken.

 

The case is American Beverage Association et al. v. City and County of San Francisco, case number 3:15-cv-03415 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Share This Using Popular Bookmarking Services

Joe's Crab Shack cuts back no-tipping test 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 4:38:00 PM

Ignite CEO Bob Merritt says customers and staff "voted with their feet"

 

Source: NRN

Ron Ruggless

May 9, 2016

 

Joe's Crab Shack has cut back its no-tipping test to just four restaurants from 18 after encountering customer and worker disapproval over the past 10 months, company executives say.

 

"The system has to change at some point but our customers and staff spoke very loudly," said Bob Merritt, CEO of Joe's Houston-based parent company Ignite Restaurant Group, in an analyst call last Wednesday. "And a lot of them voted with their feet."

 

Merritt said Joe's Crab Shack customer research indicated nearly 60 percent disliked the no-tipping program, which launched last summer in Indianapolis and was expanded later in the fall to 18 restaurants in the Midwest.

 

"We got negative customer counts between 8 percent to 10 percent on average among the 18 restaurants, and we tried it for quite a while, tried communicating it different ways," Merritt said. "So in those 14 restaurants, we are going back to the more traditional structure."

 

Merritt said customers disliked the no-tipping policy for two reasons: first, they didn't want to lose control of incentivizing service, and secondly, they didn't trust management to pay the increase price to employees.

 

The company had increased menu prices in the test restaurants and is rolling those back as tipping is returned. "Unfortunately as we all those of us who have been around this business for along time know when you roll back prices you rarely get credit for it very quickly," he said, "so it is going to take us time to rebuild that."

 

Ignite will continue the no-tipping test in four of the restaurants.

 

"We are going to try to figure out why it worked in some places and why not in others," Merritt said. "The way we look at it is: We are really continuing the tests in place with where it works."

 

Other independent restaurants and small restaurant group, such as Union Square Hospitality Group in New York, had launched similar no-tipping programs to deal with minimum wage pressures and changes in tip-credit levels.

 

Joe's no-tipping test impacted Ignite's labor expenses in the first quarter, said Brad Leist, the company's chief financial officer.

 

Labor expenses, as a percentage of revenue, increased to 30.5 percent from 28.5 in the prior-year quarter, Leist said.

 

"The increase is primarily due to higher hourly labor cost at our no-tipping units in Joe's and some inefficiencies at the three new Brick Houses that we opened during the quarter," Leist explained to analysts.

 

That, in turn, affected the operating margins at the Joe's brand, he said, reducing it to 5.7 percent in the first quarter from 6.3 percent in the same period last year.

 

For the first quarter ended March 28, Ignite reported a net loss to $1.6 million, or 6 cents a share, from a loss of $22.2 million, or 87 cents a share, in the same period last year. Revenue in the quarter fell 3.5 percent, to $117.9 million, compared to $122.2 million in the prior-year period.

 

Ignite Restaurant Group owns and operates 156 casual-dining restaurants, including 130 Joe's Crab Shack units and 26 Brick House Tavern + Taps.

Share This Using Popular Bookmarking Services

A-B InBev Looks to Replace Budweiser With 'America' on Packs 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 4:36:00 PM

Label Filings Reveal Major Patriotic Packaging Play

 

Source: Ad Age

By E.J. Schultz

May 06, 2016

 

Budweiser, which has dressed bottles in stars and stripes in previous summers, could be poised to make one of its biggest patriotic plays yet. The brand has sought approval for new labels that replace the Budweiser name with "America," according to a filing with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

 

The labels don't stop there. They include phrases such as "E Pluribus Unum" and "from the redwood forest to the Gulf stream waters this land was made for you and me," as well as "indivisible since 1776."

 

A Budweiser spokesman declined to comment on the labels.

 

Budweiser, which is owned by Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev, has a history of using patriotism in marketing. Last year, limited-edition packaging included an image of the Statue of Liberty. The brew has also used stars-and-stripes on can designs in recent summers.

 

But replacing "Budweiser" with "America" -- even for a limited time -- would supercede previous attempts at patriotic marketing. In a recent interview, Anheuser-Busch InBev U.S. Marketing VP Jorn Socquet declined to comment on Budweiser's summer package design plans. But he foreshadowed Bud's summer marketing by suggesting the brand would make use of the Olympics and Fourth of July celebrations, as well as the Copa America soccer tournament that will be played in the U.S.

 

"You have this wave of patriotism that is going to go up and down throughout the summertime," Mr. Socquet said. "And we found with Budweiser such a beautiful angle to play on that sentiment."

 

Budweiser is an official U.S. Olympic Games sponsor. The brand recently stated that a number of Olympic athletes would appear in a new ad slated to premiere in June and run during the Olympics broadcast on NBC. Budweiser also stated that it is "creating a branded and editorial content series that tells the inspiring stories of Team Budweiser athletes, which will premiere in June."

 

Budweiser's agency is Anomaly.

Share This Using Popular Bookmarking Services

FDA issues final guidance on menu labeling (Additional Coverage) 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 4:05:00 PM

Source: NRA

May 5, 2016

 

The Food and Drug Administration today officially announced the availability of final guidance on the federal menu-labeling rule, which means restaurateurs and similar retail food establishments now have a date certain for compliance: May 5, 2017.

 

The menu-labeling requirement was part of the health care law President Obama signed into law in 2010..

 

Joan McGlockton, the National Restaurant Association's vice president of industry affairs and food policy, said the association will continue to work with the FDA to address outstanding industry concerns as restaurateurs prepare to comply.

 

"The NRA has long advocated for a uniform federal menu-labeling standard and strongly believes in the importance of providing nutrition information to consumers that empowers them to make the best choices for their dietary needs," she said.

 

Beginning May 5, 2017, the law will require restaurants and foodservice businesses with 20 or more locations operating under the same name and serving substantially the same menu items to post calorie information for standard menu items and provide guests with additional nutrition information upon request.

 

The FDA's final guidance responds to many questions the NRA and its members submitted to the agency after draft guidance was published last September. In its guidance, the agency provided updated answers on such topics as which establishments must comply and how the regulations apply to alcoholic beverages, catered events, mobile vendors, grab-and-go items, and record-keeping requirements.

 

The agency added it would continue conducting webinars and hold menu-labeling workshops that focus on specific stakeholder needs. The FDA said it would announce more information about the workshops at a later date.

Share This Using Popular Bookmarking Services
Page 9 of 57 << < 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 30 > >>