Ringtail International Inc, an equal joint venture between Select Brands from Jamaica and Stansfeld Scott Inc of Barbados and the United States, is finalising the acquisition of Stone’s Ginger Wine, with expectations to grow the global supply beyond the current half-a-million cases per year.
It’s the first brand acquisition by Select since its operation began 12 years ago.
Stone’s is a well-known name in Jamaica and has long been perceived as being locally owned. But it isn’t. The brand was initially produced in Jamaica by the former Lascelles deMercado conglomerate through its flagship business J. Wray & Nephew Limited, and later the rights were taken over by Select, representatives of the company said. The centuries-old brand originated in London but has changed ownership several times.
Ringtail will acquire, by October 20, the global intellectual property rights of the brand from Accolade Wines, which is headquartered in Australia and produces brands including Hardy’s and Banrock Station. Accolade will continue to represent and distribute Stone’s Ginger Wine in the United Kingdom, Europe and North America on behalf of Ringtail.
“We will own the brand but not the distribution and sales outside of the region. So, it is the royalties that will stream to us,” said Co-managing Director of Select Brands Andrew Desnoes in an interview with the Financial Gleaner.
Ringtail has already signed Accolade to a three-year deal to distribute Stone’s on its behalf under licence in the United States.
Stone’s Original Ginger Wine’s popularity over the years has extended far beyond its English heritage. Desnoes described the acquisition as the equivalent of a Jamaican shoe company buying the Clarks brand, also seen as a Jamaican staple.
“We have plans to unlock its potential and give it the attention it deserves. Not just in Jamaica but globally. We have opportunities to expand the brand,” said Desnoes. “After all, it is our brand now.”
Select Brands describes itself as the largest importer of alcoholic beverages in Jamaica, representing various brands of spirits, beers and wines, said Desnoes, about the operations and its 120 staff.
It’s other leader, David McConnell, is the son of the late William ‘Billy’ McConnell, the man who ran the Lascelles deMercado and Company spirits conglomerate prior to its takeover by the Trinidad government and subsequent sale to Campari Group of Italy. Both McConnell and Desnoes were also once employed to J. Wray & Nephew.
Stone’s is now bottled in the UK, Jamaica, Canada and Australia. In Jamaica, it is produced for the Caribbean by Select via Ringtail Bottlers Limited using the same traditional recipe in existence for over 280 years. The drink when made locally contains Jamaican ginger and 16 per cent alcohol content which makes it slightly stronger than the typical table wine.
“Select has been distributing Stone’s for eight or nine years now. Then about three years ago, we started manufacturing it for ourselves via a joint venture-related company,” said Desnoes.
Additionally, later this month, Select will start manufacturing and producing the product for the US market.
“It will help with efficiencies, and also bring production to Jamaica at a time when it is needed,” Desnoes.
That will see a spike in the company’s demand for ginger but Select brands hasn’t said what the added logistical arrangements for the raw material entails. The company currently buys from local ginger growers but the scope of its partnerships is unknown.
Select Brands started operations in November 2011, co-founded by Desnoes and McConnell. Desnoes declined to give details on the size of the privately held company.
“We are coming out of COVID-19 far ahead of where were were going into COVID. We are in a good space,” he said, regarding Select’s current status and direction.
With its Caribbean roots, Stansfeld Scott is a well-established multichannel marketing and distribution company with a presence in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. Stansfeld Scott has a proven track record in the wines and spirits industry and is one of the largest independent suppliers of alcoholic beverages to the Caribbean.
Stone’s Original Ginger Wine traces its origins to 1740 when it was first created by Joseph Stone in the city of London. Over the centuries, it gained a cult following driven by ginger’s medicinal properties which was hailed to ward off disease, aid in digestion and known as an effective aphrodisiac, according to Select.
Stone’s is now sold in over 50 countries worldwide.
Over the years, the brand has changed ownership several times. In 1986, it was acquired by the Scottish drinks company, J&B Rare. Later, it became part of the Whyte & Mackay portfolio, a Glasgow-based alcoholic beverages producer, before it was acquired by Constellation Brands, and later in 2015 by Accolade Wines, Select said.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated throughout to correct the name of the co-managing director of Select Brands to Andrew Desnoes.