Europe’s Consumer Confidence Up, U.s. Consumers Down

Europe’s oil refiners choke on flood of U.S., Asian imports

refiners have an advantage in getting discounts on domestic crude prices so they can afford to push products further afield (and) undercut European refiners,” said Jonathan Leitch, analyst at Wood Mackenzie. Diesel shipment from the U.S. Gulf to Europe are expected to exceed 2 million tonnes in September, the highest volume on record, according to traders and shipping data. {ID:nL5N0HD3BU] An additional 1.5 million tonnes coming from Russia and Asia are more than enough to cover for lower production in Europe. U.S. diesel output averaged 2.86 million barrels per day (bpd) in September, compared with a peak production of 2.7 million bpd at the end of last year, according to Andrew Reed, analyst at ESAI Energy. Exports from the U.S. Gulf in Q4 2013 are expected to rise by 10 percent from a year earlier to 1 million bpd, he said. Danger for Europe’s refiners is also rising in the east. The earlier-than-expected start of production at the giant 400,000 bpd Jubail refinery in Saudi Arabia, a joint venture with Total, is already remaking global trade flows as demand in the Middle East for refined product from Asia weakens. That means that Asian refiners such as India’s Reliance Industries are keen to ship more diesel and jet fuel to Europe. While diesel flows into Europe grow, European exports of excess gasoline volumes to the U.S. East Coast market, a long-established trade, are rapidly dwindling.

Brown-Forman to Establish New Europe Regional Head Office

came out of the Great Recession in 2009, much of Europe suffered through a double-dip recession. Economic crises in Greece, Ireland and other countries threatened to be contagious. That sent confidence reeling in the Old World. Talk about role reversal. For some time, it seemed, U.S. hopes for a robust recovery were being held back by the risk created by the economic failures of Europe. Now it looks like the public perception here is that our problems are homegrown. The political firmament in Europe looks more solid, buoyed by this month’s election success of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The consumer confidence measures are important because they tend to signal if shoppers will buy and businesses will hire. Economists pay attention to confidence indicators not just for what they show about today, but for what they suggest about the future. A decline, as the U.S. has seen in the last couple of months, suggests that buyers and employers may hunker down in the months ahead.

 

In total, Europe accounted for 30% of Brown-Forman’s total net sales in fiscal 2013. “We’ve spent a significant amount of time evaluating how to best structure and where to locate management oversight of this important region so that we can work more effectively and efficiently in driving results that will help Brown-Forman achieve its strategic B-F 150 goals, ” said Mark McCallum, executive vice president of Brown-Forman, who is responsible for the company’s business in Europe, Africa, India, Asia Pacific, and Travel Retail. “We believe locating our European leadership team and key functional leaders together in Amsterdam will help this important region sustain its healthy growth rates and contribute more to Brown-Forman’s future prosperity.” Brown-Forman will also relocate its Finlandia Global Brand Team to Amsterdam from Louisville, KY. “The growth of our vodka portfolio — and Finlandia in particular — is a vital part of our B-F 150 strategy,” said Lawson Whiting, senior vice president and chief brands officer for Brown-Forman. “With more than 80% of Finlandia’s business sourced in Europe, it makes sense to put our global Finlandia leaders closer to their largest consumer base and to where the vodka is produced in Finland.” By January, Thomas Hinrichs, senior vice president and managing director of Brown-Forman’s Europe operations, and other key members of the company’s European leadership team will move to Amsterdam from Hamburg, London, Paris, Prague, and Louisville. In addition, Carmen d’Ascendis, senior vice president and managing director of Brown-Forman’s vodka business, and other key leaders of the Finlandia Global Brand Team will relocate to Amsterdam from Louisville, KY. Ultimately, the company expects to have approximately 40 employees based in Amsterdam, although it will probably take a few years before that number is achieved. McCallum said Brown-Forman chose Amsterdam as the head office for the company’s recently consolidated European team because it is centrally located with easy access to the rest of Europe and other international markets. The Netherlands also provides an excellent business climate and a well-educated and multi-lingual workforce. For more than 140 years, Brown-Forman Corporation has enriched the experience of life by responsibly building fine quality beverage alcohol brands, including Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Southern Comfort, Finlandia, Jack Daniel’s & Cola, Canadian Mist, Korbel, Gentleman Jack, el Jimador, Herradura, Sonoma-Cutrer, Chambord, New Mix, Tuaca, and Woodford Reserve. Brown-Forman’s brands are supported by nearly 4,000 employees and sold in approximately 160 countries worldwide. For more information about the company, please visit . This press release contains statements, estimates, and projections that are “forward-looking statements” as defined under U.S. federal securities laws.