Combined WEBB Banks – Southern Glazer’s powerhouse delivers synergies, market expansion, deeper focus on growth categories

A little over a year after Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits acquired Miami- based WEBB-Banks, the new combined organization has delivered on its promise, creating a new wine and spirits powerhouse in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, as well as the travel retail and cruise sector, WEBB Banks Chief Operating Officer Jose Castellvi tells TMI.

The acquisition expanded Southern Glazer’s reach in the Atlantic and travel retail, and strengthened its logistical capabilities to deliver products more efficiently to complex markets in the region.

“It has been a fantastic year. Southern Glazer’s basically transferred all of the international business to WEBB Banks. That’s why we’ve kept the name. WEBB Banks has the brand equity in the Caribbean, Central America and also in travel retail and cruise,” says Castellvi.

“We have been trusted to continue to run the business. All of the management team have signed agreements to stay on for a specified period of time, which has added a lot of stability into the company.

“Southern Glazer’s is letting WEBB Banks run this business. That’s why they purchased us. They liked our relationships, our portfolio, our market knowledge, and our team. And so they haven’t tinkered with that very much,” says Castellvi.
The combination of Southern Glazer’s and WEBB Banks has created synergies between WEBB Banks’ market expertise and Southern Glazer’s strong industry relationships, superior capabilities, and deep consumer and trade insights.

“I am sure there is going to be an evolution. But they’ve been nothing but supportive. What is coming next is more system upgrades.”

“And we’ve also been able to take advantage of Southern Glazer’s huge warehousing in Miami,” says Phillip Jarrell, WEBB Banks Vice President Innovation, Cruise & Key Accounts.


Two divisions

Southern Glazer’s and WEBB Banks have two formed divisions to separate its business in the regions it covers.

“Webb Banks is the traditional branded brand division that you know. This division has not changed. We continue to maintain a strong in-market presence,” says Castellvi.

“Then there is the Blue Water Division. This was the traditional Southern Wine division that we have kept separate. By doing so this it has allowed us to stay focused with our entire wine and spirits portfolio.”

Each division maintains a separate sales and marketing support team. The finance and logistics departments provide support to both divisions.

“With SGWS now supporting both divisions, they have been able to provide additional back-office support to the overall business.”

With brilliant bright colors, and striking “Day of the Dead-type” visuals, WEBB Banks and Southern Glazer’s featured a month-long activation for Recuerdo Mezcal at New York’s JFK Airport enticing many a traveler to stop in and try the award-winning mezcal at the DFS duty free store in Terminal 4. Running from mid-October to mid-November, the colorful counter offered sampling, and live Mariachi music on the weekends – and was perfectly timed to coincide with Halloween and Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations.

Combined portfolio of brands

WEBB Banks has a well balanced portfolio split between wines and spirits, and has been adding new brands and locations.

While the company had already been representing Freixenet Mionetto, starting on February 1 it has taken over cruise lines and travel retail.

“It’s our intent, because they’re the largest sparkling producer on the planet, to really focus on this portfolio and give it a lot more attention moving forward. It is the number one prosecco in the world with Mionetto, the number one cava in the world with Freixenet, and there are so many other brands in their portfolio that have been under focused. We want to see this grow a lot,” says Jarrell.

“We expect to see sparkling wines continue to grow and we hope that we see people continue to move back towards premium still wines.”

Craft beer is another important focus for WEBB Banks, especially in the Caribbean.

“Tilray is a cannabis company, but the division we are talking about is only craft beer. There is Sweetwater out of Atlanta, Montauk out of New York. And they just bought a couple of west coast breweries as well, plus eight more brands from AB InBev including Shock Top and a couple of others that are more mass, but we see that becoming a more prominent part of the business as well,” says Jarrell.

“Why haven’t we done more with craft beer in the Caribbean? Because the Caribbean wasn’t ready yet. And now we feel like cruise lines and domestic markets in the Caribbean have really come a long way. And we are excited about what that offers.”

WEBB Banks has added a number of new tequilas to its agave portfolio, says Castellvi.

“The agave portfolio is large, and it is not just tequila, but mezcal as well. We think that we can provide a lot of services and different price points and different consumer personality types with all of the different brands we have.”

Liqueurs are another success story for the company.

“The liqueur section continues to grow for us. Illva, Disaronno, Tia Maria have done very well for us in every channel: Caribbean, domestic, cruise. A brand like Tia Maria did very well over the last two years and that is an area that we continue to expand,” says Castellvi.

WEBB Banks wants to be a complete beverage partner.

“We’re going continue to focus on innovations and craft cocktail. Really modern mixology will continue to be something that we focus a great deal on. We are also looking at the non-alcohol sector,” says Jarrell.

Phillip Jarrell, WEBB Banks Vice President Innovation, Cruise & Key Accounts; Rachel Hale, President of The Hale Effect; Roberto Volpe, Area Manager, Gonzalez Byass, and his fiancée, Veronica.

Nassau Paradise Island Food & Wine Festival

WEBB Banks is a Platinum Sponsor of the Nassau Paradise Island Food & Wine Festival, which allows the company to showcase its brands to reach local and international guests at Atlantis in the Bahamas.

Nassau Paradise Island Wine & Food Festival showcases world-renowned top chefs, master sommeliers, mixologists, and celebrated TV personalities with walk-around tasting events, lively culinary demonstrations and classes, and intimate chef-led happy hours, lunches, and dinners.

“This is the second edition of the Nassau Paradise Island Wine & Food Festival, in conjunction with the Food Network. We have an incredible team of our own going, but we have also partnered with so many brands there this year,” says Jarrell.

Kris Shirley Endean, Director of Supplier Relations, WEBB Banks, with Martha Stewart

“And we’re doing multiple events with Food Network stars Martha Stewart, Andrew Zimmern, with Robert Irvine and several other chefs and mixologists as well. We expect to see 20,000 people there over the course of the event between March 13 to 17. We’re doing 15 events over those five days ourselves. It’s an incredible investment from our brand partners and ourselves to be there. But it’s such a platform for us. It’s a partnership with Atlantis that is years and years in the making that continues to improve, continues to go to new heights.”

WEBB Banks will use the event to introduce new brands, new flavor profiles, and new techniques, says Jarrell.

“And it’s not just a wine and food festival. It is very much a culinary opportunity. It’s very much a mixology opportunity.”

Festival proceeds support Atlantis Blue Project Foundation, dedicated to saving marine life and its habitats throughout the Bahamas and Caribbean seas.