SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
|ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED MARCH 31, 2008
|TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
FOR THE TRANSITION PERIOD FROM TO
COMMISSION FILE NUMBER 001-32849
Castle Brands Inc.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
|570 Lexington Avenue, 29th Floor|
|New York, New York||10022|
|(Address of principal executive offices)||(Zip Code)|
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code (646) 356-0200
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
|Title of Each Class||Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered|
|Common stock, $0.01 par value||American Stock Exchange|
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes No
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, accelerated filer or a non-accelerated filer (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).
|Large accelerated filer||Accelerated filer||Non-accelerated filer|
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes No
The aggregate market value of registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates, based upon the closing price of the common stock on March 31, 2008, as reported by the American Stock Exchange, was approximately $10,910,710. Shares of common stock held by each executive officer and director and by each person who owns 5% or more of the outstanding common stock, based on Schedule 13G filings, have been excluded since such persons may be deemed affiliates. This determination of affiliate status is not necessarily a conclusive determination for other purposes.
The registrant had 15,629,776 shares of $0.01 par value common stock outstanding at June 27, 2008.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Certain information required in Part III of this Form 10-K is incorporated by reference to the proxy statement for the registrant’s 2008 meeting of stockholders, which proxy statement will be filed no later than 120 days after the close of the registrant’s fiscal year ended March 31, 2008.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|Item 1A.||Risk Factors||15|
|Item 1B.||Unresolved Staff Comments||25|
|Item 3.||Legal Proceedings||25|
|Item 4.||Submission of Matters to a Vote of Security Holders||25|
|Item 5.||Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities||26|
|Item 6.||Selected Consolidated Financial Data||27|
|Item 7.||Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations||30|
|Item 7A.||Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk||52|
|Item 8.||Financial Statements and Supplementary Data||53|
|Item 9.||Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure||86|
|Item 9A.||Controls and Procedures||86|
|Item 9B.||Other Information||87|
|Item 10.||Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance||88|
|Item 11.||Executive Compensation||88|
|Item 12.||Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management||88|
|Item 13.||Certain Relationships and Related Transactions and Director Independence||88|
|Item 14.||Principal Accountant Fees and Services||88|
|Item 15.||Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules||89|
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This Annual Report includes statements of our expectations, intentions plans and beliefs that constitute ‘‘forward-looking statements’’ within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and are intended to come within the safe harbor protection provided by those sections. These statements, which involve risks and uncertainties, relate to the discussion of our business strategies and our expectations concerning future operations, margins, profitability, liquidity and capital resources and to analyses and other information that are based on forecasts of future results and estimates of amounts not yet determinable. We have used words such as ‘‘may,’’ ‘‘will,’’ ‘‘should,’’ ‘‘expects,’’ ‘‘intends,’’ ‘‘plans,’’ ‘‘anticipates,’’ ‘‘believes,’’ ‘‘thinks,’’ ‘‘estimates,’’ ‘‘seeks,’’ ‘‘expects,’’ ‘‘predicts,’’ ‘‘could,’’ ‘‘projects,’’ ‘‘potential’’ and other similar terms and phrases, including references to assumptions, in this report to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are made based on expectations and beliefs concerning future events affecting us and are subject to uncertainties, risks and factors relating to our operations and business environments, all of which are difficult to predict and many of which are beyond our control, that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those matters expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. These risks and other factors include those listed under ‘‘Risk Factors’’ and elsewhere in this Annual Report. The following factors, among others, could cause our actual results and performance to differ materially from the results and performance projected in, or implied by, the forward-looking statements:
|•||our ability to continue as a going concern;|
|•||our history of losses and expectation of further losses;|
|•||the effect of poor operating results on our company;|
|•||the effect of growth on our infrastructure, resources, and existing sales;|
|•||our ability to expand our operations in both new and existing markets and our ability to develop or acquire new brands;|
|•||the impact of supply shortages and alcohol and packaging costs in general;|
|•||our ability to raise capital;|
|•||our ability to fully utilize and retain new executives;|
|•||negative publicity surrounding our products or the consumption of beverage alcohol products in general;|
|•||our ability to acquire and/or maintain brand recognition and acceptance;|
|•||trends in consumer tastes;|
|•||our ability to protect trademarks and other proprietary information;|
|•||the impact of litigation;|
|•||the impact of federal, state, local or foreign government regulations;|
|•||the effect of competition in our industry; and|
|•||economic and political conditions generally.|
We assume no obligation to publicly update or revise these forward-looking statements for any reason, or to update the reasons actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in, or implied by, these forward-looking statements, even if new information becomes available in the future.
The functional currencies for our foreign operations are the Euro in Ireland and the British Pound in the United Kingdom. With respect to our consolidated financial statements, the
translation from the applicable foreign currencies to U.S. Dollars is performed for balance sheet accounts using exchange rates in effect at the balance sheet date and for revenue and expense accounts using a weighted average exchange rate during the period. The resulting translation adjustments are recorded as a component of other comprehensive income. Gains or losses resulting from foreign currency transactions are included in other income/expenses.
Where in this Annual Report we refer to amounts in Euros or British Pounds, we have for your convenience also in certain cases provided a translation of those amounts to U.S. Dollars in parenthesis. Where the numbers refer to a specific balance sheet date or financial statement period, we have used the exchange rate that was used to perform the translations in connection with the applicable financial statement. In all other instances, unless otherwise indicated, the translations have been made using the exchange rates as of March 31, 2008, each as calculated from the Interbank exchange rates as reported by Oanda.com. On March 31, 2008, the exchange rate of the Euro in exchange for U.S. Dollars and the exchange rate of the British Pound in exchange for U.S. Dollars were €1.00 = U.S. $1.580 (equivalent to U.S. $1.00 = €0.6329) for euros and £1.00 = U.S. $1.9951 (equivalent to U.S. $1.00 = £0.5012) for British Pounds.
These translations should not be construed as representations that the Euro and British Pound amounts actually represent U.S. Dollar amounts or could be converted into U.S. Dollars at the rates indicated.
Item 1. Business
We are an emerging developer and global marketer of premium branded spirits within five growing categories of the spirits industry: vodka, rum, whiskey, tequila and liqueurs. Our premium spirits brands include brands that we own, including Boru vodka, Knappogue Castle Whiskey, the Clontarf Irish whiskeys, Sea Wynde rum, and Brady’s Irish cream liqueur, brands for which we possess certain marketing and distribution rights, either directly or indirectly, including Goslings’ rums, Celtic Crossing liqueur, and Pallini liqueurs and Tierras Tequila; brands that we distribute through a agency relationships.
We were formed as a Delaware corporation in July 2003. Our predecessor company, Great Spirits Company LLC, a Delaware limited liability company was formed in February 1998. In July 2003, we were formed as a holding company to effectuate the merger of Great Spirits Company and the Roaring Water Bay entities. This merger was accomplished on December 1, 2003, with the simultaneous (a) merger of Great Spirits Company into a wholly owned subsidiary established by us for such purpose, now known as Castle Brands (USA) Corp., and (b) acquisition by us of The Roaring Water Bay Spirits Group Limited and its affiliated companies, referred to by us as Roaring Water Bay, making them our subsidiaries, now known as Castle Brands Spirits Group Limited and Castle Brands Spirits Marketing and Sales Company Limited. As a result of this acquisition, we acquired ownership of Boru vodka, the Clontarf family of Irish whiskeys and Brady’s Irish cream. We completed our initial public offering of common stock in April 2006.
For our fiscal year ended March 31, 2008, we recorded sales of 313,288 cases, which are measured based on the industry standard of nine-liter equivalent cases, and revenues of approximately $27.3 million, which represents an increase of 8.6% from revenues recorded for the prior fiscal year. The increase in revenue is primarily due to improvements in our pricing strategy as well as the inclusion of excise and Value Added Tax (‘‘VAT’’) in sales to our distributor in Ireland. We intend to continue our current growth through further market penetration of our brands, as well as through strategic relationships and acquisitions of both established and emerging spirits brands with global growth potential.
We market our premium spirits brands in the following distilled spirit categories: vodka, rum, whiskey, liqueurs and, starting in calendar 2008, tequila.
Boru vodka . Boru vodka is our leading brand by volume and accounted for 33%, 35% and 36% of our revenues for the fiscal years ended March 31, 2008, March 31, 2007 and March 31, 2006, respectively. Boru vodka is premium vodka produced in Ireland. It was developed in 1998 and named after the legendary High King of Ireland, Brian Boru, an Irish national hero known for uniting the Irish clans and driving foreign invaders out of Ireland in 1014 A.D. It is quintuple distilled using pure spring water for smoothness and filtered through ten feet of charcoal made from Irish oak for increased purity. We have three flavor extensions of Boru vodka: Boru Citrus, Boru Orange and Boru Crazzberry (a cranberry/raspberry flavor fusion).
Gosling’s rum . We are the exclusive U.S. distributor for the Gosling’s rums, including Gosling’s Black Seal Dark Rum, Gosling’s Gold Bermuda Rum and Gosling’s Old Rum. These are all produced by the Gosling family in Bermuda, where Gosling’s rums have been under continuous production and ownership by the Gosling family for over 150 years. In February 2005, we expanded our relationship with the Gosling family by acquiring a 60% controlling interest in Gosling-Castle Partners Inc., a global export venture between us and the Gosling family. Effective April 1, 2005, Gosling-Castle Partners secured the exclusive long-term export and distribution rights for the Gosling’s rum products for all countries other than Bermuda, including an assignment of the Gosling’s rights under our existing distribution agreement with them. The Gosling’s rum brands accounted for approximately 27% and 29% of our revenues for the fiscal years ended March 31, 2008 and March 31, 2007, respectively.
Sea Wynde . In 2001 we introduced Sea Wynde, premium rum. Sea Wynde is distinctive in that it is made entirely from aged, pure pot still rums from the Caribbean and South America.
Clontarf Irish whiskeys . Our family of Clontarf Irish whiskeys currently represents a majority of our case sales of Irish whiskey. Clontarf was launched in 2000 to meet the growing demand for an accessible and smooth premium Irish whiskey. Clontarf is distilled using quality grains and pure Irish spring water and is then aged in bourbon barrels and mellowed through Irish oak charcoal. Clontarf is available in single malt, reserve and classic versions.
Knappogue Castle Whiskey . We developed our Knappogue Castle Whiskey, a single malt Irish whiskey, in 1998, taking advantage of an opportunity to build both on the popularity of single malt Scotch whisky and the growth in the Irish whiskey category. Knappogue Castle Whiskey is distilled in pot stills using malted barley and is distinctive in that it is vintage-dated based on the year of distillation.
Knappogue Castle 1951 . Knappogue Castle 1951 is a pure pot-still whiskey that was distilled in 1951 and then aged for 36 years in sherry casks. The name comes from a castle in Ireland, formerly owned by Mark Edwin Andrews, the originator of the brand and the father of Mark Andrews, our chairman. Currently, we only offer 300 bottles of this rare Irish whiskey for sale each year.
McLain & Kyne Bourbons . In 2006, we acquired McLain & Kyne, Ltd., the developers and marketers of three premium very small batch bourbons, including Jefferson’s, Jefferson’s Reserve and Sam Houston. Under the McLain & Kyne label, we offer these three distinct premium Kentucky bourbons, each of which is blended in batches of eight to twelve barrels to produce specific flavor profiles. For a further description of this acquisition, see ‘‘— Our growth strategy’’ below.
Brady’s Irish cream liqueur . We launched Brady’s Irish Cream in late 2003 to capitalize on the demand for high quality Irish creams. Brady’s Irish Cream is made in small batches using Irish whiskey, dairy fresh cream and natural flavors.
Celtic Crossing liqueur . As a result of our strategic venture with Gaelic Heritage Corporation Limited, an affiliate of Terra Limited, which is one of our primary bottlers, we have obtained the exclusive worldwide distribution rights with respect to Celtic Crossing, a premium brand of Irish liqueur, and a 60% ownership interest in Celtic Crossing in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the islands between North and South America. As part of this strategic venture arrangement, Gaelic Heritage has retained the exclusive rights to produce and supply us with Celtic Crossing. Celtic Crossing was developed in the mid 1990s by Gaelic Heritage, and is a unique combination of Irish spirits, cognac and a taste of honey.
Pallini liqueurs . Pursuant to an exclusive marketing agreement with I.L.A.R. S.p.A., we have obtained the long-term exclusive U.S. distribution rights (excluding duty free sales) with respect to Pallini Limoncello and its related brand extensions. Pallini Limoncello is a premium lemon liqueur, which is served on the rocks or as an ingredient in a wide variety of drinks, ranging from martinis to iced tea. It is also used in cooking, particularly for pastries and cakes. Pallini Limoncello is crafted from an authentic family recipe created more than 100 years ago by the Pallini family. It is made with Italy’s finest Sfusato Amalfitano lemons that are hand-selected for optimal freshness and flavor. There are also two other flavor extensions of this Italian liqueur: Pallini Peachcello, made with white peaches, and Pallini Raspicello, made from a combination of raspberries and other berries.
Tierras Tequila . On February 7, 2008, we entered into an agreement with Autentica Tequilera SA de C.V. to develop and launch a new brand of super-premium tequila, ‘‘Tequila Tierras Autenticas de Jalisco’’ or ‘‘Tierras’’. At its introduction, we expect that Tierras will be one of the few organic tequilas offered for sale in the United States. Castle Brands will be the exclusive importer and marketer of Tierras in the United States. Autentica Tequilera was founded in 2003 by Javier, Alfonso and Daniel Orendain. The Orendain name is synonymous with tequila. Their grandfather, Eduardo Orendain Gonzales, started one of Mexico’s most prominent tequila companies. This third generation of tequila producers takes their family’s proud heritage and combines it with the passion and vision of a younger generation to produce an extraordinary tequila for today’s discerning market. Tierras will be the signature brand of Autentica Tequilera. Tequila Tierras Autenticas de Jalisco translates to ‘‘authentic tequila from the soil of Jalisco.’’ Tierras, which will launch later this year, will be available as blanco, reposado and añejo and is expected to be available for sale in the U.S. in September.
Our growth strategy
Our objective is to continue building a distinctive portfolio of global premium spirits brands. We are currently in the process of shifting our focus from increasing our case sales to achieving profitability as a company. To achieve this:
|•||increase revenues from existing spirits brands. We intend to focus our existing distribution relationships, sales expertise and targeted marketing activities to concentrate on our most profitable brands; expand our domestic and international distribution relationships to increase the mutual benefits of concentrating on our most profitable brands, while continuing to achieve growth and gain additional market share for our brands within retail stores, bars and restaurants, and thereby with end consumers; increase sales to national on-premise chain accounts;|
|•||building brand awareness through innovative marketing, advertising and promotional activities. We place a significant emphasis on our bottle design, labeling and packaging, as well as on our advertising and promotional activities, to establish and reinforce the image of our brands and have invested significant capital over the last several years in developing our brands. We intend to continue developing compelling campaigns for our spirits brands through the coordinated efforts of our experienced internal marketing personnel and leading third-party design and advertising firms; activate consumer-oriented electronic and web-based ‘‘viral’’ marketing programs while continuing to utilize traditional advertising media including billboards, print advertisements and in-store promotional materials, to increase consumer brand awareness;|
|•||improving value chain and managing cost structure. We are currently undergoing a comprehensive review and analysis of our supply chains and cost structures both on a company-wide and brand-by-brand basis. This has included recently undertaken restructurings and personnel reductions in our international and Gosling-Castle Partners operations. We further intend to map, analyze and redesign our purchasing and supply systems to maximize profitability from our current and future operations; and|
|•||selectively adding new premium brands to our spirits portfolio. We intend to continue developing new brands and pursuing strategic relationships, joint ventures and acquisitions to selectively expand our portfolio of premium spirits brands, particularly by capitalizing on and|
|expanding our already demonstrated partnering capabilities. Our criteria for the addition of new brands focuses on underserved areas of the spirits marketplace, while examining the potential for direct financial contribution to our company and the potential for future growth based on development and maturation of agency brands. We expect that any future acquisitions and agency relationships will be immediately accretive and evaluated on the potential contribution of such business to our objective of becoming profitable as a company. We intend to continue to pursue strategies to maximize stockholder value, which we expect will focus on immediately accretive agency relationships (such as our recent addition of Tierras Tequila), but may continue to include acquisitions that will help us further expand our product offerings. We expect that future acquisitions, if consummated, would involve some combination of cash, debt and the issuance of our stock.|
Production and supply
There are several steps in the production and supply process for spirits products. First, all of our products are distilled. This is a multi-stage process that converts basic ingredients, such as grain or sugar cane, into alcohol. Next, the alcohol is processed and/or aged in various ways depending on the requirements of the specific brand. In the case of our vodka, this processing is designed to remove all other chemicals, so that the resulting liquid will be odorless and colorless, and have a smooth quality with minimal harshness. Achieving a high level of purity involves a series of distillations and filtration processes.
In the case of our flavored vodkas and all of our other spirits brands, rather than removing flavor, various complex flavor profiles are achieved through one or more of the following techniques: infusion of fruit, addition of various flavoring substances, and, in the case of our rums and whiskeys, aging of the brands in various types of casks for extended periods of time and the blending of several rums or whiskeys to achieve a unique flavor profile for each brand. After the distillation, purification and flavoring processes are completed, the various liquids are bottled. This involves several important stages, including bottle and label design and procurement, filling of the bottles and packaging the bottles in various configurations for shipment.
We do not have significant investment in distillation, bottling or other production facilities or equipment. Instead, we have entered into relationships with several companies to provide those services to us for our various brands. We believe that these types of arrangements allow us to avoid committing significant amounts of capital to fixed assets and permit us to have the flexibility to meet growing sales levels by dealing with companies whose capacity significantly exceeds our current needs. These relationships vary on a brand-by-brand basis as discussed below. As part of our ongoing efforts to manage our costs and improve profitability, we will continue to review each of our business relationships to determine if we can increase the efficiency of our operations and improve our path to profitability.
We have a supply agreement with Carbery Milk Products Limited, a member of the Carbery Group, a distiller and food producer based in Ballineen, Ireland, to provide us with the distilled alcohol used in our Boru vodka. This supply agreement with Carbery was originally entered into by Roaring Water Bay in 1998 and became ours in 2003, when we acquired Roaring Water Bay and, with it, our Boru vodka brand. The supply agreement provides for Carbery to produce natural spirit for us with specified levels of alcohol content pursuant to specifications set forth in the agreement and at specified prices through its expiration in December 2008, in quantities to be designated by us annually. The Company is currently seeking alternative means of supply, including, but not limited to, the extension or renewal of the existing contract. We believe that Carbery has sufficient distilling capacity to meet our needs for Boru vodka for the foreseeable future. Carbery also produces the flavoring ingredients used in the Boru vodka flavor extensions and in our Brady’s Irish cream.
From Carbery, the quintuple distilled alcohol is delivered by them to the bottling premises at Terra Limited in Baileyboro, Ireland, where pursuant to our bottling and services agreement with
Terra, it is filtered in several proprietary ways, pure water is added to achieve the desired proof, and, in the case of the citrus, orange and crazzberry versions of Boru vodka, flavorings (obtained from Carbery) are added. Each of our Boru vodka products is then bottled in various sized bottles. We believe that Terra, which also acts as bottler for all of our Irish whiskeys and as producer and bottler of our Brady’s Irish cream (and as bottler for Celtic Crossing, which is supplied to us by one of Terra’s affiliates), has sufficient bottling capacity to meet our current needs, and its facility can be expanded to meet future supply needs, should this be required.
Pursuant to our bottling and services agreement with Terra, which extends through February 28, 2009, Terra provides intake, storage, sampling, testing, filtering, filling, capping and labeling of bottles, case packing, warehousing and loading and inventory control for our Boru vodka brands and our Knappogue Castle and Clontarf Irish whiskeys at prices that are adjusted annually by mutual agreement based on changes in raw materials and price indexes for consumer price index increases up to 3½%. The Company is currently seeking alternative sources of services and supply, including, but not limited to, the extension or renewal of the existing contract. This agreement also provides for maintenance of product specifications and minimum processing procedures, including compliance with applicable food and alcohol regulations and maintenance, storage and stock control of all raw products and finished products delivered to Terra. All alcohol is held on the premises by Terra under its customs and excise bond.
The Gosling’s rums have been produced by Gosling’s Brothers Limited in Hamilton, Bermuda for over 200 years and, pursuant to our distribution arrangements with the Goslings, they have retained the right to act as the sole supplier to Gosling-Castle Partners Inc. with respect to our Gosling’s rum requirements. They source their rums in the Caribbean and transport them to Bermuda where they are blended according to proprietary recipes. The rums are then sent to the Heaven Hill plant in Bardstown, Kentucky where they are bottled, packaged, stored and shipped to our various distributors. Gosling’s Brothers increased its blending and storage facilities in Bermuda to accommodate our supply needs for the foreseeable future. We believe Heaven Hill has ample capacity to meet our projected supply needs. See ‘‘— Strategic brand – partner relationships.’’
Knappogue Castle and Clontarf Irish whiskeys
In 2005, we entered into a long-term supply agreement with Irish Distillers, a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard, pursuant to which it has agreed to supply us with the aged single malt and grain whiskeys used in our Knappogue Castle Whiskey and a Knappogue Castle Whiskey blend we may produce in the future and all three of our Clontarf Irish whiskey products. The supply agreement provides for Irish Distillers to meet our running ten-year estimate of supply needs for these products, each of which is produced to a flavor profile prescribed by us. At the beginning of each year of the agreement, we must nominate our specific supply needs for each product for that year, which amounts we are then obligated to purchase over the course of that year. These amounts may not exceed the annual amounts set forth in the running ten-year estimate unless approved by Irish Distillers. The agreement provides for fixed prices for the whiskeys used in each product, with escalations based on certain cost increases. The whiskeys for the four products are then sent to Terra Limited where they are bottled in bottles designed by us and packaged for shipment.
McLain & Kyne bourbons
Jefferson’s, Jefferson’s Reserve and Sam Houston bourbons are produced for us by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers in Bardstown, Kentucky. Kentucky Bourbon Distillers sells barrels of aged bourbon to us, from which we blend no more than eight to twelve barrels to produce specific flavor profiles of each of our bourbon products. The bourbons are then bottled by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers in bottles designed and decorated for us and through third party suppliers. While bourbon supply in the United States has been in short supply in recent years, we believe that Kentucky Bourbon Distillers has the capacity to meet our foreseeable supply needs for these brands.
The Pallini liqueurs are produced by I.L.A.R. S.p.A., an Italian company based in Rome and owned since 1875 by the Pallini family. The Pallinis make their Limoncello using Sfusato Amalfitano lemons in a proprietary infusion process. Once made, the Limoncello is then bottled in their plant in Rome and shipped to us pursuant to our long-term exclusive U.S. marketing and distribution agreement. In addition to Pallini Limoncello, I.L.A.R. produces Pallini Raspicello, using a combination of raspberries and other berries and Pallini Peachcello using white peaches, and we are the exclusive U.S. importer for both of these brands as well. We believe that I.L.A.R. has adequate facilities in Rome to produce and bottle sufficient Limoncello, Raspicello and Peachcello to meet our foreseeable needs. See ‘‘— Strategic brand-partner relationships.’’
Brady’s Irish cream
Brady’s Irish cream is produced for us by Terra. Fresh cream is combined with Irish whiskey, grain neutral spirits and various flavorings procured from the Carbery Group, to our specifications, and then bottled by Terra in bottles designed for us. We believe that Terra has the capacity to meet our foreseeable supply needs for this brand.
Celtic Crossing liqueur
We acquired the exclusive worldwide distribution rights to the Celtic Crossing brand of Irish liqueur and a 60% ownership interest in the Celtic Crossing brand in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the islands between North and South America, from Gaelic Heritage Corporation Limited, an affiliate of Terra. In connection with these arrangements, Gaelic Heritage retained the right to act as the sole supplier to us of Celtic Crossing. Gaelic Heritage mixes the ingredients comprising Celtic Crossing using a proprietary formula and then Terra bottles it for them in bottles designed for us. We believe that the necessary ingredients are available to Gaelic Heritage in sufficient supply and that Terra’s bottling capacity is currently adequate to meet our projected supply needs. See ‘‘— Strategic brand-partner relationships.’’
Sea Wynde rum
With the assistance of a master blender, we source several aged rums from Jamaica and Guyana for our Sea Wynde rum and then send them to a bottling facility near Edinburgh, Scotland where they are married together and bottled for us in bottles designed by us.
Tierras Tequila Autenticas de Jalisco or ‘‘Tierras’’ is being produced for us in Mexico by Autentica Tequilera S.A. de C.V, a Mexican company founded four years ago by Javier, Alfonso and Daniel Orendain. The Orendains are third-generation tequila producers. Autentica Tequilera is purchasing organic agave, and in the process of cultivating, in conjunction with its affiliates, its own supply of organic agave. The tequila is then distilled from the agave at a facility owned by Autentica Tequilera in the Jalisco region of Mexico. Tierras will be the signature brand of Autentica Tequilera. Tierras, which will launch later this year, will be available as blanco, reposado and añejo. The blanco is unaged, the reposado is aged in oak barrels at the distillery for up to a year, and the añejo is aged in oak barrels at the distillery for at least a year. The tequila is then bottled for us by Autentica Tequilera. We believe that, given the ability of Autentica Tequilera to purchase organic agave in Mexico and its anticipated cultivation of organic agave, that Autentica Tequilera has sufficient capacity to meet our foreseeable supply needs for this brand.
We believe that one of our strengths is the distribution network that we have developed with our sales team and our independent distributors and brokers. We currently have distribution and brokerage relationships with third-party distributors in all 50 states in the United States, as well as material distribution arrangements in approximately twenty-one other countries.
Background. Importers of distilled spirits in the United States must sell their products through a three-tier distribution system. Typically, an imported brand is first sold to a U.S. importer, who then sells it to a network of distributors, or wholesalers, covering the Unites States, in either ‘‘open’’ states or ‘‘control’’ states. In the 32 open states, the distributors are generally large, privately held companies. In the 18 control states, the states themselves function as the distributor, and suppliers such as us are regulated by these states. The distributors and wholesalers in turn sell to the individual liquor retailers, such as liquor stores, restaurants, bars, supermarkets and other outlets in the states in which they are licensed to sell beverage alcohol. In larger states such as New York, more than one distributor may handle a brand in separate geographical areas. In control states, where liquor sales are controlled by the state governments, importers must sell their products directly to the state liquor authorities, which also act as the distributors and either maintain control over the retail outlets or license the retail sales function to private companies, while maintaining strict control over pricing and profit.
The U.S. spirits industry has undergone dramatic consolidation over the last ten years and the number of companies and importers has significantly declined due to merger and acquisition activity. There are currently six major spirits companies, each of which own and operate their own importing businesses. All companies, including these large companies, are required by law to sell their products through wholesale distributors in the United States. The major companies are increasingly exerting significant influence over the regional distributors and as a result, it has become more difficult for smaller companies to get their products recognized by the distributors. Therefore, with the establishment of our distribution network in all 50 states, we believe we have overcome a significant barrier to entry in the U.S. spirits business and enhanced our attractiveness as a strategic partner for smaller companies lacking comparable distribution.
For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2008, our U.S. sales represented approximately 71.1% of our revenues, and we expect them to grow as a percentage of our total sales in the future. See Note 20 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.
Importation. While we own most of our brands or, by contract, have the exclusive right to act as U.S. importer of the brands of our strategic partners, we do not currently act as our own importer in the United States for all brands. We currently hold the federal importer and wholesaler license required by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, a division of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and the requisite license in 25 of the 50 states. For those states where we are not yet licensed, we use the services of a licensed importer to act as importer of record.
In 1998, we engaged MHW Ltd., a New York-based nationally recognized and licensed importer, to coordinate the importing and industry compliance required for the sales of our products across the United States. Through the utilization of MHW’s national expertise and licenses, our inventory is strategically maintained in one of the largest bonded warehouses on both coasts (Western Carriers and Western Wine Services) and shipped nationally by an extensive network of licensed and bonded carriers. Pursuant to an agreement established on April 15, 1998, as amended on December 1, 2004, MHW also provides us with certain logistical services as well as accounting, inventory, insurance and disbursement services for our brands. In addition, MHW provides online tracking software, which provides daily reports on sales of our products to our distributors, receivables, inventory and cash receipts.
Under the terms of our agreement with MHW, we pay MHW a monthly service fee of $4,900, plus $1.00 per case on all cases sold during the month. Our agreement with MHW continues until terminated upon four months prior written notice by either party.
Until recently, it was much more cost effective for us to use MHW as our U.S. importer and to rely on its state licenses rather than expend the resources necessary to set up the required licensing infrastructure internally. At this stage of our growth, however, our revenue-based fees to MHW are reaching the point where it begins to be more economical for us to assume the role of importer ourselves. While we have commenced this process and expect to bring a number of the services
provided by MHW in-house in the future, until we have obtained the requisite licenses in at least a majority of the states, we will continue to rely on MHW to perform the importing function for us. As of June 23, 2008, we have obtained licenses in 25 states, and we are in the process of bringing the importing functions for these states in-house.
Wholesalers and distributors. In the United States, we are required by law to use state licensed distributors or, in the control states, state-owned agencies performing this function, to sell our brands to the various retail outlets. As a result, we are dependent on them not only for sales but also for product placement and retail store penetration. We currently have no distribution agreements or minimum sales requirements with any of our U.S. alcohol distributors and they are under no obligation to place our products or market our brands. In addition, all of them also distribute the products and brands of competitors of ours. As a result, the fostering and maintaining of our relationships with our distributors is of paramount importance to us. Through our internal sales team, we have established relationships for our brands with wholesale distributors in each state, and our products are currently sold in the United States by approximately 80 wholesale distributors, as well as by various state beverage alcohol control agencies.
Unlike the United States, the majority of the other countries in which we sell our brands allow for sales to be made directly from the brand owner to the various retail establishments, including liquor stores, chain stores, restaurants and pubs, without requiring that sales go through an importer or through a distributor or wholesaler tier. In our international markets, we do not use the services of an importer, although we use Terra Limited to handle the billing, inventory and shipping for us with respect to our non-U.S. markets, similar to that aspect of our arrangement with MHW in the United States. We do, however, rely primarily on established spirits distributors and wholesalers in most of our non-U.S. markets in much the same way as we do in the United States.
As in the United States, the spirits industry has undergone consolidation internationally, with considerable realignment of brands and brand ownership. The number of major spirits companies internationally has been reduced significantly due to mergers and brand ownership consolidation. While there are still a substantial number of companies owning one or more brands, most business is now done by six major companies each of whom owns and operates its own distribution company in the major international markets. These captive distribution companies focus primarily on the brands of the companies that own them.
Even though we do not utilize the direct route to market in our international operations, we do not believe that we are at a significant disadvantage, because typically the local wholesalers have significant and established relationships with the retail accounts and are able to provide extensive customer service, in store merchandising and on premise promotions. In addition, even though we must compensate our wholesalers and distributors in each market in which we sell our brands, we are, as a result of using these distributors, still able to benefit from substantially lower infrastructure costs and centralized billing and collection.
Our primary international markets are the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Canada. In addition, we have sales in a number of other countries in continental Europe and the Caribbean. For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2008, our non-U.S. sales represented 28.9% of our revenues. See Note 20 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.
Sales to one customer, Southern Wine and Spirits (and its related entities), accounted for approximately 23.0% of our consolidated revenues for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2008.
Our sales team
While we currently expect more rapid growth in the United States, international markets hold considerable potential and are an important part of our global strategy. We are in the process of
reevaluating our international strategy on a market-by-market basis to strengthen our distributor relationships, optimize our sales team and effectively focus our financial resources.
We currently have a total sales force of 29 people, including eight regional U.S. sales managers and two international sales managers, with an average of over 15 years of industry experience with premium spirits brands.
Our sales personnel are engaged in the day to day management of our distributors, which includes setting quotas, coordinating promotional plans for our brands, maintaining adequate levels of stock, brand education and training and sales calls with distributor personnel. In addition to distributor management, our sales team also maintains relationships with key retail customers through independent sales calls. They also schedule promotional events, create local brand promotion plans, host our in-store tastings in the jurisdictions where such promotions are legal and provide waitstaff and bartender training and education with respect to our brands.
Advertising, marketing and promotion
In order to build our brands, we must effectively communicate with three distinct audiences: our distributors, the retail trade and the end consumer. We place significant emphasis on advertising, marketing and promotional activities to establish and reinforce the image of our brands, with the objective of building substantial brand value. We are committed to continuing advertising and promotion activities to build our brands and their value and believe that our execution of disciplined and strategic branding and marketing campaigns will continue to drive our sales growth.
We employ full-time, in-house marketing, sales and customer service personnel who work together with third party design and advertising firms to maintain a high degree of focus on each of our product categories and build brand awareness through innovative marketing activities. We use a range of marketing strategies and tactics to build brand equity and increase sales, including consumer and trade advertising, price promotions, point-of-sale materials, event sponsorship, in-store and on-premise promotions and public relations, as well as a variety of other traditional and non-traditional marketing techniques to support the sales of our brands.
In addition to traditional advertising, we also employ four other marketing methods to support our brands: public relations, events, tastings and marketing to celebrities. We continue to have a significant public relations effort in the United States, which has helped gain important editorial coverage for our brands. Event sponsorship is an economical way for us to have our brands tasted by influential consumers, and we actively contribute product to trend-setting events where our brand has exclusivity in the brand category. We also conduct hundreds of in-store and on-premise promotions each year.
We support our marketing efforts for our brands with a wide assortment of point-of-sale materials. The combination of trade and consumer programs, supported by attractive point-of-sale materials, also establishes greater credibility for us with our distributors and retailers.
We also place a significant emphasis on our bottle design, labeling and packaging to establish and reinforce the image of our brands. For instance, we recently introduced a significantly redesigned and upgraded Clontarf Irish Whiskey bottle.
Strategic brand-partner relationships
A key component of our growth strategy and one of our competitive strengths is our ability to forge strategic relationships with owners of both emerging and established spirits brands seeking opportunities to increase their sales beyond their home markets and achieve global growth. Our original relationship with the Boru vodka brand was as its exclusive U.S. distributor. To date, we have also established strategic relationships with respect to Gosling’s rum, the Pallini liqueurs, Tierras Tequila and Celtic Crossing, all of which relationships are described below, and we will endeavor to continue expanding our brand portfolio through similar such arrangements in the future.
Gosling-Castle Partners Inc./Gosling’s rums
Effective as of January 2005, we entered into a national distribution agreement with Gosling’s Export (Bermuda) Limited, referred to as Gosling’s Export, pursuant to which we obtained the
exclusive right to distribute the Gosling’s rum products, which have been produced by the Gosling family in Bermuda for over 200 years. In February 2005, we expanded this relationship by purchasing a 60% controlling interest in a strategic export venture, now named Gosling-Castle Partners Inc., with the Gosling family. Gosling-Castle Partners was formed to enter into an export agreement with Gosling’s Export that gives Gosling-Castle Partners the exclusive right to distribute Gosling’s rum and related products on a world wide basis (other than in Bermuda) and assigns to Gosling-Castle Partners all of Gosling’s Export’s interest in our January 2005 U.S. distribution agreement with them. In exchange for the global distribution rights under the export agreement, Gosling-Castle Partners issued a note to Gosling’s Export in the principal amount of $2.5 million, which was paid in four equal installments of $625,000 bi-annually through October 1, 2006. The export agreement has an initial term expiring in April 2020, subject to a 15 year extension if certain case sale targets are met. Under the terms of the export agreement, which commenced in April 2005, Gosling-Castle Partners is generally entitled to a stipulated share of the proceeds from the sale, if ever, of the ownership of any of the Gosling’s brands to a third-party, through a sale of the stock of Gosling’s Export or its parent, with the size of such share depending upon the number of case sales made during the twelve months preceding the sale. In addition, prior to selling the ownership of any of their brands that are subject to these agreements, Gosling’s Export must first offer such brand to Gosling-Castle Partners and then to us. Pursuant to our arrangement with the Goslings, they have retained the right to act, through Gosling’s Brothers Limited, as the sole supplier to Gosling-Castle Partners with respect to our Gosling’s rum requirements.
I.L.A.R. S.p.A./Pallini liqueurs
In August 2004, we entered into an exclusive marketing and distribution agreement with I.L.A.R. S.p.A., a family owned Italian spirits company founded in 1875, pursuant to which we obtained the long-term exclusive U.S. distribution rights with respect to its Pallini Limoncello liqueur and a right of first refusal on related brand extensions. We exercised such right with respect to its Pallini Raspicello and its Pallini Peachcello in May 2005 and commenced shipment of such products in September 2005.
During the period through December 31, 2007, we had the right to purchase Limoncello at a stipulated price subject to one adjustment in calendar 2006 or calendar 2007 to reflect the inflation rate in the Italian economy and subject to further adjustment for raw material increases of 5% or more during any quarter to the extent the increase is above the rate of inflation and only for the period the increase is maintained. As of January 1, 2008, I.L.A.R. has the discretion to raise prices as long as the price increases do not exceed those of major competitors for comparable products. I.L.A.R. is required to maintain certain product standards, and we have input into adjustments of the product and packaging. We are required to prepare a preliminary annual strategy plan for advertising and distribution for review and are required to make certain advertising, marketing and promotional expenditures based on volume. The initial term of the agreement expires on December 31, 2009 and is automatically renewed for either three or five years, based on case sales in 2009. I.L.A.R. indemnifies us in the United States for claims arising out of compliance with U.S. laws or regulations or relating to the quality or fitness of products and maintains $5 million of insurance upon which we are named an additional insured. We indemnify I.L.A.R. for claims arising out of claims relating to the marketing, promotion, sale or distribution of the products and maintain $5 million of standard product liability insurance upon which I.L.A.R. is the named insured. Additional agreements are pending regarding I.L.A.R.’s distribution of our products.
In February 2008, we entered into an exclusive importation and marketing agreement with Autentica Tequilera S.A. de C.V., which was founded four years ago by Javier, Alfonso and Daniel Orendain, pursuant to which the Company became the exclusive US importer of a new super premium tequila, ‘‘Tequila Tierras Autenticas de Jalisco’’ or ‘‘Tierras’’.
The agreement has a term of five years, with automatic five-year renewals based upon sales targets, which are agreed for the first two renewals and to be negotiated for subsequent renewals.
During the term of the Agreement, we have the right to purchase tequila at stipulated prices. Autentica Tequilera is required to maintain certain standards for its products, and we have input into the product and packaging. We are required to prepare periodic reports detailing the development of the brand’s sales. Autentica Tequilera indemnifies us for claims arising out of or relating to the quality or fitness of products and maintains $5 million of insurance upon which we are named an additional insured. Pursuant to this agreement, we obtained rights of first refusal with respect to the importation of (i) any new market for Tierras (except Mexico), and a (ii) any new products of Autentica Tequilera within the US or any other market (except Mexico). We also obtained a right of first refusal on any sale of the Tierras brand, and a right to acquire up to 35% of the economic benefit of any such sale with a third-party based upon the achievement of certain cumulative sales targets.
Gaelic Heritage Corporation Limited/Celtic Crossing
In March 1998, we entered into an exclusive national distribution agreement with Gaelic Heritage Corporation Limited, an affiliate of Terra Limited, one of our suppliers, which was subsequently amended in April 2001, pursuant to which we acquired from Gaelic a 60% ownership interest, and our importer, MHW, acquired a 10% ownership interest, in the Celtic Crossing brand in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the islands between North and South America. We also have the right to acquire 70% of the ownership of the Celtic Crossing brand in the remainder of the world. We also acquired the exclusive right to distribute Celtic Crossing on a world-wide basis. Under the terms of the agreement with Gaelic, as amended, we have the right to purchase from Gaelic, based upon our forecasts, cases of Celtic Crossing at annually agreed costs and a royalty payment per case sold at various rates depending on the territory and type of case sold. During the term of the agreement, without the prior written consent of Gaelic, we may not distribute any other Irish liqueur unless it is bottled in Gaelic’s (Terra’s) facilities. Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, Gaelic provides us with €6.3 million ($10.0 million) of product liability insurance. The agreement may be terminated, among other things, upon notification by either party that the other party has materially breached the agreement and such breach is not cured within 60 days of the date such notice is given.
Trademarks are an important aspect of our business. Our brands are protected by trademark registrations or are the subject of pending applications for trademark registration in the United States, the European Community and most other countries where we currently distribute the brand or have plans to distribute the brand. In some cases, the trademarks are registered in the names of our various subsidiaries and related companies. Generally, the term of a trademark registration varies from country to country, and, in the United States, trademark registrations need to be renewed every ten years. We will continue to register our trademarks in additional markets as we expand our distribution territories.
We have entered into distribution agreements for brands owned by third parties, such as the Pallini liqueurs, Tierras Tequila and the Gosling’s rums. The Pallini liqueurs and Gosling’s rum brands are registered by their respective owners and we have the exclusive right to distribute the Gosling’s rums on a worldwide basis (other than in Bermuda) and the Pallini liqueur brands in the United States. Tequila Tierras Autenticas de Jalisco and its distinctive label have been filed for registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Autentica Tequiliera. See ‘‘— Strategic brand-partner relationships.’’
Our unique ‘‘trinity’’ bottle is the subject of Irish and UK utility patents owned by The Roaring Water Bay (Research & Development) Company Limited and a U.S. Design patent owned by our subsidiary Castle Brands Spirits Company Limited. In December 2003, we entered into a license agreement with Roaring Water Bay (Research & Development) Company Limited whereby we obtained an exclusive license to use the patents for a five-year term ending in December 2008. The license agreement provides for a royalty equal to 8% of the net invoice price of trinity bottle products covered by these patents sold or otherwise disposed of by us, subject to a maximum of €30,000 ($47,400) per year. The license agreement also includes our right to acquire the patent registrations for the Trinity bottle for €90,000 ($142,200). We are currently evaluating the possibility of extending the license or exercising our right to purchase the patent.
This annual report includes the names of our brands, which constitute trademarks or trade names which are proprietary to and/or registered in our name or in the name of one of our subsidiaries or related companies, including, but not limited to, Castle Brands tm , Boru ® , Crazzberry ® , Brady’s ® , Knappogue Castle Whiskey ® , Clontarf tm , Jefferson’s Bourbon tm , Jefferson’s Reserve ® , Sam Houston Bourbon ® , Sea Wynde ® , Celtic Crossing ® and British Royal Navy Imperial Rum tm ; and trademarks with respect to brands for which we have certain exclusive distribution rights and which are proprietary to and/or registered in the names of third parties, such as Pallini ® , which is owned by I.L.A.R. S.p.A., Tequila Tierras Autenticas de Jalisco tm , which is owned by Autentica Tequiliera S.A. de C.V., and Gosling’s tm , Gosling’s Black Seal ® , Gosling’s Gold Bermuda Rum tm and Gosling’s Old Rum tm which are owned by Gosling Brothers Limited. This annual report also contains other brand names, trade names, trademarks or service marks of other companies and these brand names, trade names, trademarks or service marks are the property of those other companies.
Our industry is subject to seasonality with peak sales in each major category generally occurring in the fourth calendar quarter, which is our third fiscal quarter. See ‘‘Risk Factors – Our quarterly operating results have fluctuated in the past and may fluctuate significantly in the future rendering quarter-to-quarter comparisons unreliable as indicators of performance.’’
We employ Microsoft Dynamics GP as our financial reporting system worldwide. This system is installed on our servers in New York and is accessible remotely by our personnel globally via secured Internet connection. We maintain local area networks, referred to as LANS, in our Houston, Dublin and New York offices. These LANS support email communication and Internet connectivity for these offices and, in addition, support such features as automatic data back-up and recovery in the event of a hardware failure at a local terminal. The domestic LANS are maintained by qualified personnel employed by the Company. The international LANS are maintained by professional third-party service providers.
We have also entered into a 36-month contract in June 2005, with Dimensional Insight, Inc. for its InterReport service. Among other things, this service provides business intelligence regarding U.S. sales of our products held by our distributors, inventory levels at our distributors and shipments of our products from distributors to specific retailers, as well as reporting formats that compare this information against comparable prior year periods. We consider this to be an effective tool for our sales force and financial planners as it provides the feedback required to improve the accuracy of sales forecasting and inventory management, and the effectiveness of our sales and marketing promotions.
We believe that we compete on the basis of quality, price, brand recognition and distribution strength. Our premium brands compete with other alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages for consumer purchases, as well as for shelf space in retail stores, restaurant presence and wholesaler attention. In addition to the six major companies discussed below, we compete with numerous multinational producers and distributors of beverage alcohol products, many of which have greater resources than us.
Over the past ten years, the U.S. distilled spirits industry has undergone dramatic consolidation and realignment of brands and brand ownership. The number of major spirits importers in the United States has significantly declined due to mergers and brand ownership consolidation. While historically there were a substantial number of companies owning one or more major brands, today there are six major companies: Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Bacardi, Brown-Forman, Future Brands and Constellation Brands.
While these companies are the leading importers of spirits to the U.S. market, we believe that we are sometimes in a better position to partner with small to mid-size brands. Despite our relative
capital position and resources with respect to our larger competitors, we have been able to compete with these larger companies in connection with entering into agency distribution agreements and acquiring brands by being more responsive to private and family-owned brands, utilizing flexibility in transaction structures and providing brand owners the option to retain local production and ‘‘home’’ market sales. Given our size relative to our major competitors, most of which have multi-billion dollar operations, we believe that we can generally provide greater focus on smaller brands and tailor structures based on individual preferences of brand owners.
By focusing on the premium segment of the market, in which products typically carry higher margins, and having an established, experienced sales force, we believe we are able to gain relatively significant attention from our distributors for a company of our size. Our U.S. regional sales managers, who average over 15 years of industry experience, provide long-standing relationships with distributor personnel and with their major customers. Finally, the continued consolidation among the major companies is expected to create an opportunity for small to mid-size spirits companies, such as ourselves, as distributors seek diversification among their suppliers.
As holder of federal beverage alcohol permits, we are subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (27 CFR Parts 19, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31, 71 and 252), U.S. Customs Laws (USC Title 19), Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (Subtitles E and F), and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Laws of all fifty states.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau of the United States Treasury Department regulates the spirits industry with respect to production, blending, bottling, sales and advertising and transportation of alcohol products. Also, each state regulates the advertising, promotion, transportation, sale and distribution of alcohol products within its jurisdiction. We are also required to conduct business in the United States only with holders of licenses to import, warehouse, transport, distribute and sell spirits.
In Europe, we are also subject to similar regulations related to the production of spirits, including, among others, the Food Hygiene Regulations 1950-1989 (Licensing Acts 1833-2004), European Communities (Hygiene of Foodstuffs) Regulations, 2000 (S.I. No. 165 of 2000), European Communities (Labeling, Presentation and Advertising of Food Stuffs) Regulations, 2002 (S.I. No. 483 of 2002), Irish Whiskey Act, 1980 (S.I. No. 33 of 1980), European Communities (Definitions, Description and Presentation of Spirit Drinks) Regulations, 1995 (S.I. No. 300 of 1995), Merchandise Marks Act 1970, Licensing Act 2003 and Licensing Act Northern Ireland Order 1996 covering the testing of raw materials used and the standards maintained in production processing, storage, labeling, distribution and taxation.
The advertising, marketing and sale of alcoholic beverages are subject to various restrictions in the United States and Europe. These range from a complete prohibition of the marketing of alcohol in some countries to restrictions on the advertising style, media and messages used.
Labeling of spirits is also regulated in many markets, varying from health warning labels to importer identification, alcohol strength and other consumer information. Specific warning statements related to risks of drinking beverage alcohol products are required to be included on all beverage alcohol products sold in the United States.
In the 18 U.S. control states, the state liquor commissions act in place of distributors and decide which products are to be purchased and offered for sale in their respective states. Products are selected for purchase and sale through listing procedures which are generally made available to new products only at periodically scheduled listing interviews. Products not selected for listings can only be purchased by consumers through special orders, if at all.
The distribution of alcohol-based beverages is also subject to extensive taxation both in the United States, at both the federal and state level, and internationally. Most foreign countries in which we do business impose excise duties on distilled spirits, although the form of such taxation varies significantly from a simple application on units of alcohol by volume to intricate systems based on the
imported or wholesale value of the product. Several countries impose additional import duty on distilled spirits, often discriminating between categories in the rate of such tariffs. Import and excise duties may have a significant effect on our sales, both through reducing the overall consumption of alcohol and through encouraging consumer switching into lower-taxed categories of alcohol.
We are also subject to regulations which limit or preclude certain persons with criminal records from serving as our officers or directors. In addition, certain regulations prohibit parties with consumer outlet ownership from becoming officers, directors or substantial shareholders.
We believe that we are in material compliance with all applicable federal, state and other regulations. However, we operate in a highly regulated industry which may be subject to more stringent interpretations of existing regulations. Future costs of compliance with changes in regulations could be significant.
Since we are importers of distilled spirits products produced primarily outside the United States, adverse effects of regulatory changes are more likely to materially affect earnings and our competitive market position rather than capital expenditures. Capital expenditures in our industry are normally associated with either production facilities or brand acquisition costs. Because we are not a U.S. producer, changes in regulations affecting production facility operations may indirectly affect the costs of the brands we purchase for resale, but we would not anticipate any resulting material adverse impact upon our capital expenditures.
Because it is our intent to expand our brand portfolio, any regulatory revisions that increase the asset value of brands could have a material negative impact upon our ability to purchase such brands. More typically in our industry, however, the introduction of new and more restrictive regulations would have the opposite effect of reducing, rather than increasing, the asset value of brands directly impacted by more restrictive regulations.
We are a company in an industry dominated by global conglomerates with international brands. Therefore, to the extent that new more restrictive marketing and sales regulations are promulgated, or excise taxes and customs duties are increased, our earnings and competitive industry position could be materially adversely affected. Large international conglomerates have far greater financial resources than we do and would be better able to absorb increased compliance costs.
As of March 31, 2008, we had 58 employees, of which 29 were in sales and 29 were in management, finance, marketing and administration. Of our employees, 48 are located in the United States and 10 are employed outside of the United States, primarily in Ireland.
We operate in one business – premium branded spirits. Our product categories are vodka, rum, tequila, liqueurs, and whiskey. We report our operations in two geographical areas: International and United States. See Note 20 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Our future success is highly uncertain and cannot be predicted based upon our limited operating history.
Although our predecessor was formed in 1998, most of our brands, including Boru vodka, our leading brand by volume, have only been acquired or introduced by us since our formation in July 2003. As a result, compared to most of our current and potential competitors, we have a relatively short operating history and our brands are early in their growth cycle. Additionally, we anticipate acquiring brands in the future that are unlikely to have established global brand recognition. Accordingly, it is difficult to predict when or whether we will be financially and operationally successful, making our business and future prospects difficult to evaluate.
We have never been profitable, and if we continue to lose money and do not achieve profitability soon, we may be unable to continue our business. Our ability to continue as a going concern is uncertain. As a result, our auditors have issued a going concern report on our financial statements.
We have incurred losses since our inception, including net losses of $27.6 million and $16.6 million for the years ended March 31, 2008 and 2007, respectively, and had an accumulated loss of $87.5 million as of March 31, 2008. We believe that we will continue to incur sizeable net losses for the foreseeable future as we expect to make continued and significant investment in product development, and sales and marketing and to incur significant administrative expenses as we seek to grow our current and future brands. We also anticipate that our cash needs will exceed our income from sales for the foreseeable future. Despite our anticipated aggressive marketing expenditures, our products may never achieve widespread market acceptance and may not generate sales and profits to justify our investment. In addition, we may find that our expansion plans are more costly than we currently anticipate and that they do not ultimately result in commensurate increases in our sales, which would further increase our losses. Our expenses also include interest on indebtedness incurred. We expect we will continue to experience losses and negative cash flow, some of which could be significant. Results of operations will depend upon numerous factors, some of which are beyond our control, including market acceptance of our products, new product introductions and competition. We incur substantial operating expenses at the corporate level, many of which are directly related to the costs of being a reporting company under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
Because of our history of losses, our current financial condition and $10.0 million dollars of principal payments on our senior notes payable due May 2009, the report of our Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm includes an explanatory paragraph referring to an uncertainty concerning our ability to continue as a going concern. Please see Note 1 to our financial statements for the year ended March 31, 2008.
We will require additional capital to finance operations, the acquisition of additional brands and to grow existing brands, and our inability to raise such capital on beneficial terms or at all could harm our operations and restrict our growth.
We will require additional capital to finance operations. In addition, in the future we will need additional capital on an accelerated basis to fund potential acquisitions of new brands, expansion of our product lines, and increased sales, marketing and advertising costs with respect to our existing and any newly acquired brands. If, at such times, we have not generated sufficient cash from operations to finance those additional capital needs, we will need to raise additional funds through private or public equity and/or debt financing. We cannot assure you that, if and when needed, additional financing will be available to us on acceptable terms or at all. If additional capital is needed and either unavailable or cost prohibitive, our growth may be limited as we may need to change our business strategy to slow the rate of, or eliminate, our expansion or reduce or curtail our operations. In addition, any additional financing we undertake could impose covenants upon us that restrict our operating flexibility, and, if we issue equity securities to raise capital, our existing stockholders may experience dilution or the new securities may have rights senior to those of our common stock.
We are dependent on a limited number of suppliers. Failure to obtain satisfactory performance from our suppliers or loss of our existing suppliers could cause us to lose sales, incur additional costs and lose credibility in the marketplace. We also have annual purchase obligations with certain suppliers.
We depend on a limited number of third-party suppliers for the sourcing of all of our products, including both our own proprietary brands and those we distribute for others. These suppliers consist of third-party distillers, bottlers and producers in the United States, Bermuda, the Caribbean and Europe. We rely on the owners of Gosling’s rum, the Pallini liqueurs and Tierras tequila to produce their brands for us. With respect to our proprietary products, we, in several instances, rely on a single supplier to fulfill one or all of the manufacturing functions for one or more of our brands. For instance, The Carbery Group is the sole producer for Boru vodka; Irish Distillers Limited is the sole provider of our single malt, blended and grain Irish whiskeys; Gaelic Heritage Corporation Limited is
the sole producer of our Celtic Crossing Irish liqueur; and Terra Limited is not only the sole producer of our Brady’s Irish cream liqueur but also the only bottler of both our Boru vodka and our Irish whiskeys. We do not have long-term written agreements with all of our suppliers. In addition, if we fail to complete purchases of products ordered annually, certain suppliers have the right to bill us for product not purchased during the period. The termination of our written or oral agreements or an adverse change in the terms of these agreements could have a negative impact on our business. If our suppliers increase their prices, we may not have alternative sources of supply and may not be able to raise the prices of our products to cover all or even a portion of the increased costs. In addition, our suppliers’ failure to perform satisfactorily or handle increased orders, delays in shipments of products from international suppliers or the loss of our existing suppliers, especially our key suppliers, could cause us to fail to meet orders for our products, lose sales, incur additional costs and/or expose us to product quality issues. In turn, this could cause us to lose credibility in the marketplace and damage our relationships with distributors, ultimately leading to a decline in our business and results of operations. Our contract with The Carbery Group expires December 31, 2008 and our contract with Terra Limited expires February 29, 2009. If we are not able to renegotiate these contracts on acceptable terms or find suitable alternatives, our business could be negatively impacted.
We cannot yet act as our own importer of record in all 50 states and rely on MHW Ltd. to perform this function for us in those states in which we are not registered. The loss of its services could thus significantly interrupt our U.S. sales and harm our reputation, our business and our results of operations.
In the United States, there is a three-tier distribution system for imported spirits: the imported brand is sold to a licensed importer; the importer sells the imported brand to a wholesale distributor; and the distributor sells the imported brand to retail liquor stores, bars, restaurants and other outlets in the states in which it is licensed to sell alcohol. While we own most of our brands or, by contract, have the exclusive right to act as U.S. importer of the brands of our strategic partners, we do not currently act as our own importer in the United States for all brands. We currently hold the federal importer and wholesaler license and the requisite license in 25 of the 50 states. For those states where we are not yet licensed, we use the services of a licensed importer to act as importer of record. We have, as a result, historically depended on MHW Ltd. to serve in this capacity for us. In addition to acting as importer of record for us, MHW also provides and supervises storage and transportation of our products to local wholesale distributors and provides several accounting and payment related services to us. Until we are licensed in a majority of the states and bring these services in-house, the loss of MHW’s services or its poor performance, either nationally or at a state level, could significantly interrupt or decrease our U.S. sales and harm our reputation, our business and our results of operations. In addition, while MHW purchases product from us to fill wholesale orders, MHW is not liable to us for any unpaid balances due from the distributors on these orders.
In addition, until recently, it was much more cost effective for us to use MHW as our U.S. importer and to rely on its state licenses rather than expend the resources necessary to set up the required licensing infrastructure internally. At this stage of our growth, however, we believe that our fees to MHW, which are based in part on our case sale volumes, are now reaching the point where it may be more economical for us to assume the role of importer ourselves. While we have commenced this process, we currently hold the federal importer and wholesaler license required by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and the requisite license in 25 states. Until we have obtained the requisite licenses in at least a majority of the states, we must continue to rely on MHW to perform the importing function for us and, if we continue to grow, pay increasing fees to it for these services.
We are substantially dependent upon our independent wholesale distributors. The failure or inability of even a few of our distributors to adequately distribute our products within their territories could harm our sales and result in a decline in our results of operations.
We are required by law to use state licensed distributors or, in 18 states known as ‘‘control states,’’ state-owned agencies performing this function, to sell our products to retail outlets, including liquor stores, bars, restaurants and national chains in the United States. We have established
relationships for our brands with wholesale distributors in each state; however, failure to maintain those relationships could significantly and adversely affect our business, sales and growth. Over the past decade there has been increasing consolidation, both intrastate and interstate, among distributors. As a result, many states now have only two or three significant distributors. In addition, there are several distributors that now control distribution for not just one state but several states. As a result, if we fail to maintain good relations with a distributor, our products could in some instances be frozen out of one or more markets entirely. The ultimate success of our products also depends in large part on our distributors’ ability and desire to distribute our products to the desired U.S. target markets, as we rely significantly on them for product placement and retail store penetration. We have no formal distribution agreements or minimum sales requirements with any of our distributors and they are under no obligation to place our products or market our brands. Moreover, all of them also distribute competitive brands and product lines. We cannot assure you that our U.S. alcohol distributors will continue to purchase our products, commit sufficient time and resources to promote and market our brands and product lines or that they can or will sell them to our desired or targeted markets. If they do not, our sales will be harmed, resulting in a decline in our results of operations.
While most of our international markets do not require the use of independent distributors by law, we have chosen to conduct our sales through distributors in all of our markets and, accordingly, we face similar risks to those set forth above with respect to our international distribution. Some of these international markets may have only a limited number of viable distributors. We have recently changed our distributor in the Republic of Ireland.
The sales of our products could decrease significantly if we cannot secure and maintain listings in the control states.
In the control states, the state liquor commissions act in place of distributors and decide which products are to be purchased and offered for sale in their respective states. Products selected for listing must generally reach certain volumes and/or profit levels to maintain their listings. Products are selected for purchase and sale through listing procedures which are generally made available to new products only at periodically scheduled listing interviews. Products not selected for listings can only be purchased by consumers in the applicable control state through special orders, if at all. If, in the future, we are unable to maintain our current listings in the 18 control states, or secure and maintain listings in those states for any additional products we may acquire, sales of our products could decrease significantly.
If we are unable to identify and successfully acquire additional premium brands that are complementary to our existing portfolio, our growth will be limited, and, even if they are acquired, we may not realize planned benefits due to integration difficulties or other operating issues.
A key component of our growth strategy is the acquisition of additional premium spirits brands that are complementary to our existing portfolio through acquisitions of such brands or their corporate owners, either directly or through mergers, joint ventures, long-term exclusive distribution arrangements and/or other strategic relationships. If we are unable to identify suitable brand candidates and successfully execute our acquisition strategy, our growth will be limited. In addition, even if we are successful in acquiring additional brands, we may not be able to achieve or maintain profitability levels that justify our investment in, or realize operating and economic efficiencies or other planned benefits with respect to, those additional brands. The addition of new products or businesses entails numerous risks with respect to integration and other operating issues, any of which could have a detrimental effect on our results of operations and/or the value of our equity. These risks include:
|•||difficulties in assimilating acquired operations or products;|
|•||unanticipated costs that could materially adversely affect our results of operations;|
|•||negative effects on reported results of operations from acquisition related charges and amortization of acquired intangibles;|
|•||diversion of management’s attention from other business concerns;|
|•||adverse effects on existing business relationships with suppliers, distributors and retail customers;|
|•||risks of entering new markets or markets in which we have limited prior experience; and|
|•||the potential inability to retain and motivate key employees of acquired businesses.|
In addition, there are special risks associated with the acquisition of additional brands through joint venture arrangements. While we own a controlling interest in our Gosling-Castle Partners strategic export venture, we may not have the majority interest in, or control of, future joint ventures that we may enter into. There is, therefore, risk that our joint venture partners may at any time have economic, business or legal interests or goals that are inconsistent with our interests or goals or those of the joint venture. There is also risk that our current or future joint venture partners may be unable to meet their economic or other obligations and that we may be required to fulfill those obligations alone.
Our ability to grow through the acquisition of additional brands will also be dependent upon the availability of capital to complete the necessary acquisition arrangements. We intend to finance our brand acquisitions through a combination of our available cash resources, bank borrowings and, in appropriate circumstances, the further issuance of equity and/or debt securities. Acquiring additional brands could have a significant effect on our financial position, and could cause substantial fluctuations in our quarterly and yearly operating results. Also, acquisitions could result in the recording of significant goodwill and intangible assets on our financial statements, the amortization or impairment of which would reduce reported earnings in subsequent years.
Our quarterly operating results have fluctuated in the past and may fluctuate significantly in the future rendering quarter-to-quarter comparisons unreliable as indicators of performance.
Our quarterly revenues and operating results have varied in the past due to seasonality of our industry and the timing of our major marketing campaigns and brand additions. For instance, in our industry peak sales in each major category generally occur in the fourth calendar quarter, which is our third fiscal quarter. As a result, our third fiscal quarter revenues (those for the quarter ending December 31) are generally higher than other quarters. However, for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2008, our third quarter sales accounted for only 23.3% of our revenues for that year due to the reduced sales in the Republic of Ireland concurrent with our change in distributor. Our quarterly operating results are likely to continue to vary significantly from quarter to quarter in the future. As a result, we believe that quarter-to-quarter comparisons of our revenues and operating results are not meaningful indicators of performance.
Currency exchange rate fluctuations and devaluations cause a significant adverse effect on our revenues, sales and overall financial results.
For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2008, non-U.S. operations accounted for approximately 28.9% of our revenues. Therefore, gains and losses on the conversion of foreign payments into U.S. dollars could cause fluctuations in our results of operations, and fluctuating exchange rates could cause reduced revenues and/or gross margins from non-U.S. dollar-denominated international sales. Also, for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2008, euro denominated sales accounted for approximately 27.1% of our total revenue, so a substantial change in the rate of exchange between the U.S. dollar and the euro or British pound could have a significant adverse affect on our financial results. Our ability to acquire spirits and produce and sell our products at favorable prices will also depend in part on the relative strength of the U.S. dollar. We may not be able to hedge against these risks.
Adverse public opinion about alcohol could reduce demand for our products.
Anti-alcohol groups have, in the past, successfully advocated more stringent labeling requirements, higher taxes and other regulations designed to discourage consumption of beverage alcohol. More restrictive regulations, negative publicity regarding alcohol consumption and/or changes
in consumer perceptions of the relative healthfulness or safety of beverage alcohol could decrease sales and consumption of alcohol and thus the demand for our products. This could, in turn, significantly decrease both our revenues and our revenue growth, causing a decline in our results of operations.
Class action or other litigation relating to alcohol abuse or the misuse of alcohol could deplete our cash and divert our personnel resources and, if successful, significantly harm our business.
Our industry faces the possibility of class action or other similar litigation alleging that the continued excessive use or abuse of beverage alcohol has caused death or serious health problems. It is also possible that federal, state or foreign governments could assert that the use of alcohol has significantly increased government funded health care costs. Litigation or assertions of this type have adversely affected companies in the tobacco industry, and it is possible that we, as well as our suppliers, could be named in litigation of this type.
In addition, lawsuits have been brought recently in nine states alleging that beer and spirits manufacturers have improperly targeted underage consumers in their advertising. The plaintiffs in these actions claim that the defendants’ advertising ‘‘disproportionately’’ targeted underage consumers, by using youthful themes, humor and other subjects that are attractive to young persons. Plaintiffs in these cases allege that the defendants’ advertisements, marketing and promotions violate the consumer protection or deceptive trade practices statutes in each of these states and seek repayment of the family funds expended by the underage consumers. While we have not been named in these lawsuits, it is possible we could be named in similar lawsuits in the future. Any class action or other litigation asserted against us could be expensive and time consuming to defend against, depleting our cash and diverting our personnel resources and, if the plaintiffs in such actions were to prevail, our business could be harmed significantly.
Either our or our strategic partners’ failure to protect our respective trademarks, service marks and trade secrets could compromise our competitive position and decrease the value of our brand portfolio.
Our business and prospects depend in part on our, and with respect to our agency or joint venture brands, our strategic partners’, ability to develop favorable consumer recognition of our brands and trademarks. Although both we and our strategic partners actively apply for registration of our brands and trademarks, they could be imitated in ways that we cannot prevent. In addition, we rely on trade secrets and proprietary know-how, concepts and formulas. Our methods of protecting this information may not be adequate. Moreover, we may face claims of misappropriation or infringement of third parties’ rights that could interfere with our use of this information. Defending these claims may be costly and, if unsuccessful, may prevent us from continuing to use this proprietary information in the future and result in a judgment or monetary damages being levied against us. We do not maintain non-competition agreements with all of our executives and key personnel or with some of our key suppliers. If competitors independently develop or otherwise obtain access to our or our strategic partners’ trade secrets, proprietary know-how or recipes, the appeal, and thus the value, of our brand portfolio could be reduced, negatively impacting our sales and growth potential.
We depend on our key personnel. If we lose the services of any of these individuals or fail to hire and retain additional management personnel as we grow, we may not be able to implement our business strategy or operate our business effectively.
We rely on a small number of key individuals to implement our plans and operations, including Donald L. Marsh, our President and Chief Operating Officer, Alfred J. Small, our Chief Financial Officer, and T. Kelley Spillane, our Senior Vice President – U.S. Sales, as well as our other executive officers and our regional and foreign sales managers. While we currently maintain key person life insurance coverage on the life of Mr. Spillane, that insurance may not be available to us in the future or the proceeds therefrom may not be adequate to replace the services of this manager. To the extent that the services of any of these individuals become unavailable, we will be required to hire other
qualified personnel, and we may not be successful in finding or hiring adequate replacements. As a result, if we lose the services of any of these individuals, we may not be able to implement our business strategy or operate our business effectively. Further, our management of future growth and our successful integration of any acquired brands or companies will require substantial additional attention from our senior management team and require us to retain additional qualified management personnel and to attract and train new personnel. Failure to successfully retain and hire needed personnel to manage our growth and development would harm our ability to implement our business plan and grow our business.
Regulatory decisions and changes in the legal, regulatory and tax environment in the countries in which we operate could limit our business activities or increase our operating costs and reduce our margins.
Our business is subject to extensive regulation regarding production, distribution, marketing, advertising and labeling of beverage alcohol products in all of the countries in which we operate. We are required to comply with these regulations and to maintain various permits and licenses. We are also required to conduct business only with holders of licenses to import, warehouse, transport, distribute and sell spirits. We cannot assure you that these and other governmental regulations applicable to our industry will not change or become more stringent. Moreover, because these laws and regulations are subject to interpretation, we may not be able to predict when and to what extent liability may arise. Additionally, due to increasing public concern over alcohol-related societal problems, including driving while intoxicated, underage drinking, alcoholism and health consequences from the abuse of alcohol, various levels of government may seek to impose additional restrictions or limits on advertising or other marketing activities promoting beverage alcohol products. Failure to comply with any of the current or future regulations and requirements relating to our industry and products could result in monetary penalties, suspension or even revocation of our licenses and permits, or those of MHW on whom we are currently dependent to import and distribute our products in the United States. Costs of compliance with changes in regulations could be significant and could harm our business, as we could find it necessary to raise our prices in order to maintain profit margins, which could lower the demand for our products and reduce our sales and profit potential.
In addition, the distribution of beverage alcohol products is subject to extensive taxation both in the United States and internationally (and, in the United States, at both the federal and state government levels), and beverage alcohol products themselves are the subject of national import and excise duties in most countries around the world. An increase in taxation or in import or excise duties could also significantly harm our sales revenue and margins, both through the reduction of overall consumption and by encouraging consumers to switch to lower-taxed categories of beverage alcohol.
We could face product liability or other related liabilities that increase our costs of operations and harm our reputation.
Although we maintain liability insurance and will attempt to limit contractually our liability for damages arising from our products, these measures may not be sufficient for us to successfully avoid or limit liability. Our product liability insurance coverage is limited to $1.0 million per occurrence and $2.0 million in the aggregate and our general liability umbrella policy is capped at $10.0 million. Further, any contractual indemnification and insurance coverage we have from parties supplying our products is limited, as a practical matter, to the creditworthiness of the indemnifying party and the insured limits of any insurance provided by these suppliers. In any event, extensive product liability claims could be costly to defend and/or costly to resolve and could harm our reputation.
Contamination of our products and/or counterfeit or confusingly similar products could harm the image and integrity of, or decrease customer support for, our brands and decrease our sales.
The success of our brands depends upon the positive image that consumers have of them. Contamination, whether arising accidentally or through deliberate third-party action, or other events that harm the integrity or consumer support for our brands, could affect the demand for our products.
Contaminants in raw materials purchased from third parties and used in the production of our products or defects in the distillation process could lead to low beverage quality as well as illness among, or injury to, consumers of our products and could result in reduced sales of the affected brand or all of our brands. Also, to the extent that third parties sell products that are either counterfeit versions of our brands or brands that look like our brands, consumers of our brands could confuse our products with products that they consider inferior. This could cause them to refrain from purchasing our brands in the future and in turn could impair our brand equity and adversely affect our sales and operations.
We must maintain a relatively large inventory of our products to support customer delivery requirements, and if this inventory is lost due to theft, fire or other damage or becomes obsolete, our results of operations would be negatively impacted.
We must maintain relatively large inventories to meet customer delivery requirements for our products. We are always at risk of loss of that inventory due to theft, fire or other damage, and any such loss, whether insured against or not, could cause us to fail to meet our orders and harm our sales and operating results. In addition, our inventory may become obsolete as we introduce new products, cease to produce old products or modify the design of our products’ packaging, which would increase our operating losses and negatively impact our results of operations.
During the year ended March 31, 2008 we recorded a net allowance for obsolete and slow moving inventory of $1.5 million. We recorded this allowance on both raw materials and finished goods, primarily in the disposition of our old packaging of Boru vodka, rendered obsolete with our repackaging in March 2007, and our old packaging of Clontarf Irish whiskey, rendered obsolete with our launch of the new Clontarf packaging in March 2008. In addition, in an effort to refocus our efforts on our faster growing and more profitable SKUs and bottle sizes, we reduced the number of both on some of our other products, primarily Gosling’s rums. The charge has been recorded as an increase to Cost of Sales in the current period and has a significant negative effect on our reported gross profit and gross margin.
We have a material amount of goodwill and other intangible assets. We have taken an impairment charge on our goodwill in the current period. If, in the future, we are required to take an additional impairment of this goodwill and other intangible assets, it would increase our net loss.
As of March 31, 2008, goodwill represented approximately $3.8 million, or 8.8%, of our total assets and other intangible assets represented approximately $13.6 million, or 32.2%, of our total assets. Goodwill is the amount by which the costs of an acquisition accounted for using the purchase method exceed the fair value of the net assets acquired. Under Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 142 entitled ‘‘Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets,’’ goodwill and indefinite lived intangible assets are no longer amortized, but instead are subject to a periodic impairment evaluation based on the fair value of the reporting unit. Any write-down of goodwill or intangible assets resulting from future periodic evaluations would increase our net loss and those increases could be material.
Under SFAS 142, impairment of goodwill is tested by comparing the fair values of the applicable reporting units with the carrying amount of their net assets, including goodwill. If the carrying amount of the reporting unit’s net assets exceeds the unit’s fair value, an impairment loss would be recognized in an amount equal to the excess of the carrying amount goodwill over its implied fair value. The implied fair value of goodwill is determined in the same manner as the amount of goodwill recognized in a business combination with the fair value of the reporting unit deemed to be the purchase price paid.
The fair value of each reporting unit was determined at March 31, 2008 by weighting a combination of the present value of our discounted anticipated future operating cash flows and values based on market multiples of revenue and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (‘‘EBITDA’’) of comparable companies. Such valuations resulted in our recording a goodwill impairment loss of approximately $8.8 million for the year ended March 31, 2008. Such adjustments were attributable to downward revisions of earnings forecasted for future years, an
increase in the incremental borrowing rate due to operating results that were worse than anticipated and an overall decrease to the value of the comparable companies.
Our existing and future debt obligations could impair our liquidity and financial condition.
As of March 31, 2008, we had total consolidated indebtedness of approximately $18.7 million. We may incur additional debt in the future to fund all or part of our capital requirements. Our outstanding debt and future debt obligations could impair our liquidity and could:
|•||make it more difficult for us to satisfy our other obligations;|
|•||require us to dedicate a substantial portion of any cash flow we may generate to payments on our debt obligations, which would reduce the availability of our cash flow to fund working capital, capital expenditures and other corporate requirements;|
|•||impede us from obtaining additional financing in the future for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions and general corporate purposes; and|
|•||make us more vulnerable in the event of a downturn in our business prospects and limit our flexibility to plan for, or react to, changes in our industry.|
If we were to fail in the future to make any required payment under agreements governing our indebtedness or fail to comply with the financial and operating covenants contained in those agreements, we would be in default as regards to that indebtedness. If the lenders were to require immediate payment, we might not have sufficient assets to satisfy our obligations under our credit facility, our subordinated notes or our other indebtedness. Our lenders would have the ability to require that we immediately pay all outstanding indebtedness, and we might not have sufficient assets to satisfy their demands. In such event, we could be forced to seek protection under bankruptcy laws, which could significantly harm our reputation and sales.
We may not be able to maintain our listing on the American Stock Exchange, which may limit the ability of our stockholders to resell their common stock in the secondary market.
Although we are currently listed on the American Stock Exchange, we might not meet the criteria for continued listing on the American Stock Exchange in the future. If we are unable to meet the continued listing criteria of the American Stock Exchange and became delisted, trading of our common stock could be conducted in the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board. In such case, an investor would likely find it more difficult to dispose of our common stock or to obtain accurate market quotations for it. If our common stock is delisted from the American Stock Exchange, it will become subject to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s ‘‘penny stock rules,’’ which impose sales practice requirements on broker-dealers that sell that common stock to persons other than established customers and ‘‘accredited investors.’’ Application of this rule could make broker-dealers unable or unwilling to sell our common stock and limit the ability of stockholders to sell their common stock in the secondary market.
Our executive officers, directors and principal stockholders own a substantial percentage of our voting stock, which likely allows them to control matters requiring stockholder approval. They could make business decisions for us that cause our stock price to decline.
As of June 27, 2007, our executive officers, directors and principal stockholders beneficially owned approximately 40% of our common stock, including warrants, options and convertible notes that are exercisable for, or convertible into, shares of our common stock within 60 days of the date of this annual report. As a result, if they act in concert, they could control matters requiring approval by our stockholders, including the election of directors, and could have the ability to prevent or cause a corporate transaction, even if other stockholders, oppose such action. This concentration of voting power could also have the effect of delaying, deterring, or preventing a change of control or other business combination, which could cause our stock price to decline.
Failure to achieve and maintain effective internal controls in accordance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act could have a material adverse effect on our ability to produce accurate financial statements and on our stock price.
Pursuant to Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, we have furnished a report by our management on our internal control over financial reporting as of March 31, 2008. We have not been subject to these requirements in the past. The internal control report contained (a) a statement of management’s responsibility for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting, (b) a statement identifying the framework used by management to conduct the required evaluation of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting, (c) management’s assessment of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as of the end of our most recent fiscal year, including a statement as to whether or not internal control over financial reporting is effective, and (d) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010, a statement that our independent registered public accounting firm has issued an attestation report on management’s assessment of internal control over financial reporting.
To achieve compliance with Section 404 within the prescribed period, we documented and evaluated our internal controls over financial reporting, which was both costly and challenging. In this regard, we dedicated internal resources, engaged outside consultants and adopted a detailed work plan to (a) assess and document the adequacy of internal control over financial reporting, (b) take steps to improve control processes where appropriate, (c) validate through testing that controls are functioning as documented, and (d) implement a continuous reporting and improvement process for internal control over financial reporting. Despite our efforts, we can provide no assurance as to our, or our independent registered public accounting firm’s, conclusions with respect to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting under Section 404. There is a risk that our independent registered public accounting firm will not be able to conclude within the prescribed timeframe that our internal controls over financial reporting are effective as required by Section 404. This could result in an adverse reaction in the financial markets due to a loss of confidence in the reliability of our financial statements.
Provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, our amended and restated bylaws and Delaware law could make it more difficult for a third party to acquire us, discourage a takeover and adversely affect existing stockholders.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, our amended and restated bylaws and the Delaware General Corporation Law contain provisions that may have the effect of making more difficult, delaying, or deterring attempts by others to obtain control of our company, even when these attempts may be in the best interests of our stockholders. These include provisions limiting the stockholders’ powers to remove directors or take action by written consent instead of at a stockholders’ meeting. Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation also authorizes our board of directors, without stockholder approval, to issue one or more series of preferred stock, which could have voting and conversion rights that adversely affect or dilute the voting power of the holders of our common stock. Delaware law also imposes conditions on the voting of ‘‘control shares’’ and on certain business combination transactions with ‘‘interested stockholders.’’
These provisions and others that could be adopted in the future could deter unsolicited takeovers or delay or prevent changes in our control or management, including transactions in which stockholders might otherwise receive a premium for their shares over then current market prices. These provisions may also limit the ability of stockholders to approve transactions that they may deem to be in their best interests.
We do not expect to pay any dividends for the foreseeable future. Our stockholders may never obtain a return on their investment.
We do not anticipate that we will pay any dividends to holders of our common stock in the foreseeable future. Instead, we plan to retain any earnings to maintain and expand our existing operations, further develop our brands and finance the acquisition of additional brands. In addition,
our ability to pay dividends is prohibited by the terms of our 6% convertible notes and we expect that any future credit facility will contain terms prohibiting or limiting the amount of dividends that may be declared or paid on our common stock. Accordingly, investors must rely on sales of their common stock after price appreciation, which may never occur, as the only way to realize any return on their investment.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments.
Item 2. Properties
Our executive offices are located in New York, New York, where we lease approximately 3,800 square feet of office space under a sublease that expires on December 31, 2008. We plan on evaluating alternative office locations prior to the expiration of our New York office sublease. We also lease approximately 7,500 square feet of office space in Dublin, Ireland under a lease that expires on February 28, 2009, approximately 1,000 square feet of office space in Houston, Texas under a lease that expires on March 31, 2009, and approximately 1,000 square feet of office space in Louisville, Kentucky under a lease that expires on May 31, 2009.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
Except as described below, we believe that neither we nor any of our wholly owned subsidiaries is currently subject to litigation which, in the opinion of our management, is likely to have a material adverse effect on us.
Our subsidiary, Castle Brands Spirits Company Limited, is the holder of a trademark registration for the mark ‘‘BORU’’ with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. On May 9, 2007, Distillerie Stock U.S.A. Ltd. filed a Petition for Cancellation with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the cancellation of the trademark registration for BORU on several grounds, including potential confusion between BORU and its existing registered trademark ‘‘BORA’’. We have various defenses on the merits as well as procedural defenses which we expect to file in a timely manner against Distillerie Stock’s claims. We intend to vigorously pursue these defenses as appropriate. Currently, the matter is pending at the United States Patent and Trademark Office before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. While matters before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board cannot result in monetary damages or directly affect the right to use a trademark, they can result in the cancellation of a trademark registration. Thus, it is possible this matter could result in the cancellation of our trademark registration for BORU in the United States. As a result, it is not feasible to predict the final outcome, and there can be no assurance that these claims might not be finally resolved adversely to us, resulting in material liability to our operations.
We may, however, become involved in litigation from time to time relating to claims arising in the ordinary course of our business. These claims, even if not meritorious, could result in the expenditure of significant financial and managerial resources.
Item 4. Submission of Matters to a Vote of Security Holders
No matters were submitted to a vote of security holders during the fourth quarter of the fiscal year covered by this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
|Item 5.||Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities|
Price range of common stock
The following table describes the per share range of high and low sales prices for our common stock, as reported by the American Stock Exchange. On April 6, 2006, our common stock began trading on the American Stock Exchange under the symbol ‘‘ROX.’’
|First Quarter (April 6 – June 30, 2006)||$||9.15||$||5.95|
|Second Quarter (July 1 – September 30, 2006)||$||7.90||$||5.50|
|Third Quarter (October 1 – December 31, 2006)||$||7.55||$||5.56|
|Fourth Quarter (January 1 – March 31, 2007)||$||7.48||$||5.03|
|First Quarter (April 1 – June 30, 2007)||$||6.75||$||5.60|
|Second Quarter (July 1 – September 30, 2007)||$||5.50||$||4.18|
|Third Quarter (October 1 – December 31, 2007)||$||4.41||$||0.90|
|Fourth Quarter (January 1 – March 31, 2008)||$||2.37||$||1.02|
As of June 26, 2008, there were 158 stockholders of record of our common stock. This does not include the number of persons whose stock is in nominee or ‘‘street name’’ accounts through brokers.
We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our capital stock other than $1,389,765 dividends we paid in shares of our common stock to our preferred stockholders upon the consummation of our initial public offering. We do not intend to pay any cash dividends with respect to our common stock in the foreseeable future. We currently intend to retain any earnings for use in the operation of our business and to fund future growth. In addition, our ability to pay dividends is subject to the consent of the holders of our 6% convertible notes and we expect that any future credit facility will contain terms prohibiting or limiting the amount of dividends that may be declared or paid on our common stock. Any future determination to pay cash dividends will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend upon our financial condition, operating results, capital requirements and such other factors as the board of directors deems relevant.
COMPARISON OF CUMULATIVE TOTAL RETURN
The following graph compares the cumulative total stockholder return on our common stock from April 6, 2006 through March 31, 2008 to the cumulative total return for (i) the Russell 2000 Index (the ‘‘Russell 2000 Index’’) and (ii) a peer group that we selected that consists of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage companies. The peer group is comprised of Wilamette Valley Vineyards, Inc., Scheid Vineyards Inc., Drinks Americas Holdings, Ltd., Lifeway Foods Inc. and Jones Soda Co. (the ‘‘Peer Index’’). Total return values were calculated based on cumulative total return assuming the investment, at the closing price on April 1, 2008, of $100 in each of our common stock, the Russell 2000 Index, and the Peer Index. In calculating total annual stockholder return, reinvestment of dividends, if any, is assumed. The indices are included for comparative purpose only. They do not necessarily reflect management’s opinion that such indices are an appropriate measure of the relative performance of our common stock. This graph is not ‘‘soliciting material,’’ is not deemed filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and is not to be incorporated by reference in any of our filings under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, whether made before or after the date hereof and irrespective of any general incorporation language in any such filing.
COMPARISON OF 2 YEAR CUMULATIVE TOTAL RETURN*
Among Castle Brands, Inc., The Russell 2000 Index
and a Peer Group
|*||$100 invested on 4/6/06 in stock or index-including reinvestment of dividends. Fiscal year ending March 31.|
Item 6. Selected Consolidated Financial Data
The following tables set forth selected consolidated financial data and other data for the periods ended and as of the dates indicated. The selected consolidated financial data for the fiscal years ended March 31, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005 and 2004 has been derived from our historical audited consolidated financial statements. You should read the following selected consolidated financial data and other data in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements, including the related notes, and the section entitled ‘‘Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations’’ included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
The ‘‘other data’’ presented below relates to our case sales, which are measured based on the industry standard of nine-liter equivalent cases, an important measure in our industry that we use to
evaluate the effectiveness of our operational strategies and overall financial performance. We believe that by providing this information investors can better assess trends in our business. Net sales per case is total net sales for the applicable period presented, divided by the total number of cases sold during the period. Gross profit per case and selling expense per case are derived by dividing our gross profit and selling expense, respectively, for the applicable period presented by the number of cases sold for such period.
|Years ended March 31,|
|Consolidated statement of operations data|
|(in thousands, except per share data):|
|Cost of sales||19,272||16,780||13,656||8,745||3,285|
|Allowance for obsolete and slow-moving inventory||1,542||—||—||—||—|
|General and administrative expense||8,369||8,646||5,493||3,637||1,960|
|Depreciation and amortization||1,030||1,001||907||323||226|
|Foreign exchange gain/(loss)||2,251||1,360||(338||)||120||(85||)|
|Interest expense, net||(1,679||)||(1,085||)||(1,579||)||(998||)||(304||)|
|Write-off of deferred financing costs in connection with conversion of 6% subordinated convertible notes||—||(295||)||—||—||—|
|Current credit/(charge) on derivative financial instrument||189||118||16||(77||)||26|
|Income tax benefit||148||148||148||—||—|
|Less: Preferred stock and preferred membership unit dividends||—||48||1,596||1,252||761|
|Net loss attributable to common stockholders||$||(27,584||)||$||(16,606||)||$||(14,680||)||$||(13,780||)||$||(7,211||)|
|Net loss per common share basic and diluted (1)||(1.81||)||$||(1.40||)||$||(4.73||)||$||(4.44||)||$||(3.22||)|
|Weighted average shares outstanding basic and diluted (1)||15,264||11,898||3,107||3,107||2,237|
|Other data (unaudited):|
|Number of case sales||313,288||314,644||267,052||170,060||64,013|
|Net sales per case||$||87.22||$||79.98||$||79.20||$||74.20||$||75.41|
|Gross profit per case||$||20.78||$||26.65||$||28.06||$||22.77||$||24.08|
|Selling expense per case||$||56.95||$||53.29||$||48.86||$||68.03||$||84.33|
|(1)||Net loss per common share basic and diluted was positively affected by the increase in shares outstanding resulting from the shares issued and converted in our initial public offering, and our PIPE in May 2007.|
Selected balance sheet data (in thousands):
|As of March 31,|
|Cash equivalents and short-term investments||$||5,784||$||6,917||$||1,392||$||5,676||$||3,461|
|Working capital (deficit)||16,756||17,084||(799||)||5,665||4,541|
|Total stockholders’ equity (deficiency)||14,788||23,553||(26,024||)||(12,125||)||928|
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. This discussion and analysis contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results may differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of many factors, including, but not limited to, those described under ‘‘Risk Factors’’ and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
We develop and market premium branded spirits in several growing market categories, including vodka, rum, whiskey, tequila and liqueurs, and we distribute these spirits in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, in nine key international markets, including Ireland, Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Germany, Canada, France, Bulgaria, Russia and the Duty Free markets, and in a number of other countries in continental Europe. The brands we market include, among others, Boru vodka, Gosling’s rum, Clontarf Irish Whiskey, Knappogue Castle Whiskey, Jefferson’s, Jefferson’s Reserve and Sam Houston bourbons and the Pallini liqueurs.
Our current growth strategy focuses on: (a) aggressive brand development to encourage case sale and revenue growth of our existing portfolio of brands through significant investment in sales and marketing activities, including advertising, promotion and direct sales personnel expense; and (b) the selective addition of complementary premium brands through a combination of strategic initiatives, including acquisitions, joint ventures and long-term exclusive distribution arrangements.
Change in operational emphasis
We are shifting emphasis from a volume-oriented approach to a profit centric focus. We will do so by adopting strategies and tactics to address the following:
• Revenue growth from the Company’s existing brands
• Revenue growth from new brands acquired via ‘‘agency’’ relationships
• Revenue growth from brands created to address as yet unsatisfied market needs.
The organic growth of existing brands will be supported by a variety of sales and marketing initiatives. The first is recognition of the most profitable brands with re-focused concentration and emphasis upon sales of those brands. Our wholesaler relationships are critical to this effort and we are embarking upon an effort to improve and strengthen these relationships. The result will be an improvement in the penetration of both the on and off premise markets.
Our marketing efforts will utilize a ‘‘viral’’ approach, wherein we use the internet and various focused media campaigns to attract consumer interest and takedown of our brands. We will also be employing the use of leverage in this aspect of our business as we benefit from the organizational strength of the partners we select to participate in our various internet marketing activities as well as ‘‘joint brand development’’ activities.
We are seeking additional agency relationships to round out our brand portfolio. We have developed specific criteria that we are employing in our determination of acceptability of certain brands. By using these criteria, we improve the likelihood of selecting brands that will continue our track record that has been established of growing brands rapidly.
We recently announced the creation of a new tequila brand, ‘‘Tierras’’. This brand has been developed to satisfy the underserved market for ‘‘organic’’ spirits. We will continue to identify underserved markets and develop new products to serve them.
We are completing the restructuring of our international sales and distribution systems, and are now poised to resume growth in our international markets. Several of our brands are in attractive growth categories internationally, and we intend to grow them via the development of an intensified network of distributors in desirable markets.
We have taken significant steps over the past six months to bring our costs down. These steps included a restructuring of the international operations, a restructuring of the Gosling Castle Partnership working relationship and the elimination of unnecessary cost from the U.S. organization. The next step in the process of managing costs is a rigorous application of effort to the entire supply function of our brands. We are examining each step of the process of sourcing our brands to both improve quality and reduce cost. In turn, this process examination will be followed by attention to our systems of work, with the goal of mapping, analyzing and redesigning these systems.
A review and understanding of our historical growth during the past fiscal years should consider the timing of our strategic transactions. These transactions for our company and our predecessor companies are outlined below. In addition to the impact of these transactions, we have had significant growth in our own brands and will continue to focus on developing those brands.
Roaring Water Bay acquisition. On December 1, 2003, in connection with our acquisition of The Roaring Water Bay Spirits Group Limited and The Roaring Water Bay Spirits Company (GB) Limited and their related entities, referred to collectively as Roaring Water Bay, we added the Boru vodka, Clontarf Irish whiskeys and Brady’s Irish cream brands to our portfolio. While we were already selling Boru vodka in the United States pursuant to the 2002 distribution agreement, the acquisition added significant Boru vodka sales internationally, principally in the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. This acquisition is reflected in our financial results for the last four months of our fiscal year ended March 31, 2004 and in all subsequent periods.
Pallini liqueur distribution agreement. On August 17, 2004, we signed an exclusive U.S. marketing and distribution agreement for the Pallini liqueurs. Sales of those products are reflected in our results for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2005, commencing as of August 2004, and in all subsequent periods.
Gosling’s rum distribution agreement. On January 1, 2005, we signed an exclusive U.S. distribution agreement for the Gosling’s rums. Gosling’s rum sales are reflected in our financial results for the last three months of the fiscal year ended March 31, 2005 and in all subsequent periods.
Gosling-Castle Partners export venture. On February 18, 2005, we reached agreement to expand our Gosling’s relationship by acquiring a 60% interest in a newly formed global export venture with the Gosling family, now named Gosling-Castle Partners, Inc., that had been formed to acquire, through an export agreement, the exclusive distribution rights for Gosling’s rums worldwide, except for the Gosling’s home market of Bermuda, including an assignment to such venture of the Gosling’s rights under our January 2005 distribution agreement. This export agreement became effective on April 1, 2005. The financial results of Gosling-Castle Partners are included in our consolidated financial statements commencing as of our February 2005 purchase of such interest, with adjustments for minority interest; however, it had no meaningful operations prior to the April 1, 2005 commencement of the export agreement.
McLain & Kyne acquisition. On October 12, 2006, as a result of our acquisition of all of the outstanding stock of McLain & Kyne, Ltd (f/k/a McLain & Kyne Distillery, Ltd.), we added McLain & Kyne’s premium small batch bourbons to our portfolio: Jefferson’s, Jefferson’s Reserve and Sam Houston. The financial results of this acquisition are included in our financial statements commencing October 13, 2006 and in all subsequent periods.
Tequila Tierras Autenticas de Jalisco On February 7, 2008, we entered into an agreement with Autentica Tequilera to develop and launch a new brand of super-premium tequila, ‘‘Tequila Tierras Autenticas de Jalisco’’ or ‘‘Tierras’’. Castle Brands will be the exclusive importer and marketer of Tierras in the United States. Tierras, which will be the signature brand of Autentica Tequilera and will launch later this year, will be available as blanco, reposado and añejo and is expected to be available for sale in the U.S. in September.
We generate revenue through the sale of our premium spirits to our network of wholesale distributors or, in control states, state-owned agencies, which, in turn, distribute our premium brands to retail outlets. A number of factors affect our overall level of sales, including the number of cases sold, revenue per case, relative contribution by brand and geographic mix. Changes in any of these factors may have a material impact on overall sales. We introduced the new Boru vodka bottle design in April 2007 in the U.S. and in the international markets in September 2007. During fiscal 2007, and continuing in fiscal 2008, we launched an advertising campaign that featured our new bottle design for Boru vodka. This represents a significant upgrade in packaging and brings the product more in line with its brand positioning. In the United States, our sales price per case includes excise tax and import duties, which are also reflected in a corresponding increase in our cost of sales. Most of our international sales are sold ‘‘in bond,’’ with the excise taxes paid by our customers upon shipment, thereby resulting in lower relative revenue as well as a lower relative cost of sales, although some of our United Kingdom sales are sold ‘‘tax paid,’’ as in the United States. Our sales typically peak during the months of October through December in anticipation of, and during, the holiday season. See ‘‘Risk Factors – Our quarterly operating results have fluctuated in the past and may fluctuate significantly in the future rendering quarter-to-quarter comparisons unreliable as indicators of performance.’’ The difference between sales and net sales principally reflects adjustments for various distributor incentives.
Our gross profit is determined by the prices at which we are able to sell our products, our ability to control our cost of sales, the relative mix of our case sales by brand and geography and the impact of foreign currency fluctuations. Our cost of sales is principally driven by our cost of procurement, bottling and packaging, which differ by brand, as well as freight and warehousing costs. We purchase certain of our products, such as the Gosling’s rums and Pallini liqueurs, as finished goods. For other products, we purchase the components of our products, including the distilled spirits, bottles and packaging materials, and have arrangements with third parties for bottling and packaging. Our U.S. sales typically have a higher absolute gross margin than in other markets, as sales prices per case are generally higher in the United States than elsewhere.
Selling expense principally includes advertising and marketing expenditures and compensation paid to our marketing and sales personnel. Our selling expense, as a percentage of sales and per case, is currently high compared to our competitors because of our brand development, level of marketing spend and our established sales force versus our relatively small base of case sales and sales volumes. However, we believe that our strategy of building an infrastructure capable of supporting our anticipated future growth is the correct long-term approach for us. In anticipation of continuing growth, we have added the following components that are included in selling costs:
|•||hiring of a highly qualified and experienced sales force;|
|•||continuous improvement of our product distribution network and forging of strong distributor relationships – beyond those a company of our size might be expected to maintain; and|
|•||implementation of a products depletion tracking system, by both brand and SKU (enabling us to more effectively target our selling efforts).|
While we expect the absolute level of selling expense to continue to increase in the coming years, we also expect selling expense as a percentage of revenues and on a per case basis to continue to decline, as our volumes expand and we employ our direct sales team over a larger number of brands.
General and administrative expenses include all corporate and administrative functions that support our operations. These expenses consist primarily of administrative payroll, occupancy and related expenses and professional services. While we expect these expenses to increase on an absolute basis as our sales volumes continue to increase and we add additional personnel, we also expect our general and administrative expenses as a percentage of sales to continue to decline due to economies of scale.
We expect to significantly increase our case sales in the U.S. and internationally over the next several years through organic growth, and through the extension of our product line via acquisitions and distribution agreements. We will seek to maintain liquidity and manage our working capital and
overall capital resources during this period of anticipated growth to be able to take advantage of these opportunities and to achieve our long-term objectives, although there is no assurance that we will be able to do so.
We believe continued investment in marketing and advertising to broaden customer awareness and the hiring of salespeople to provide greater coverage of key geographic regions is important to the improvement of operations. These efforts will lead to sizable increases in our absolute level of selling expense and it is uncertain as to whether the investment will translate into increased customer brand recognition for our spirits and therefore greater case sales. Given the competitive nature of the spirits industry and the existence of well-established brands in each spirits category, we expect to incur increased competition from existing and new competitors as we achieve greater case sales and market share.
We believe a number of industry dynamics and trends will create growth opportunities for us to broaden our spirits portfolio and increase our case sales, including:
|•||the continued consolidation of brands among the major spirits companies is expected to result in their divestiture of non-core brands, which may create an opportunity for us as we focus on smaller and emerging brands;|
|•||the ongoing industry consolidation is expected to make it more difficult for spirits companies and new entrants to secure an attractive route to market, particularly in the United States, while we already have established extensive U.S. and international distribution;|
|•||owners of small private and family-owned spirits brands will seek to partner with or be acquired by a larger company with global distribution. We expect to be an attractive alternative for these brand owners as one of the few modestly-sized publicly traded spirits companies; and|
|•||particular opportunities in the premium end of the spirits market in which we participate, given positive changes in customer preferences, demographics and expected growth rates in the imported spirits segments.|
Our growth strategy is based upon partnering with existing brands, acquiring smaller and emerging brands and growing existing brands. To identify potential partner and acquisition candidates we plan to rely on our management’s industry experience and our extensive network of contacts in the industry. We also plan to maintain and grow our U.S. and international distribution channels so that we are more attractive to spirits companies who are looking for a route to market for their products. With respect to foreign and small private and family-owned spirits brands, we will continue to be flexible and creative in the structure and form of our proposals and present an alternative to the larger spirits companies.
We also believe there will be growth opportunities for us as a result of the expected growth rates in the imported spirits segments in which we compete. Given the historical and projected growth rates for the imported spirits industry, and the imported vodka and imported rum segments in particular, we are expecting growth in case sales for all of our product categories.
The pursuit of acquisitions and other new business relationships will require significant management attention and time commitment. There is uncertainty concerning our ability to successfully identify attractive acquisition candidates, our ability to obtain financing on favorable terms and whether we will complete these types of transactions in a timely manner and on terms acceptable to us, if at all.
To address the uncertainty regarding potential acquisition candidates, we plan to rely on, and continue to grow, our extensive network of industry contacts to help us identify and evaluate spirits products with growth potential. We plan to rely on our management team’s extensive experience in the spirits industry to successfully integrate any products we acquire and, when appropriate, hire additional personal.
Financial performance overview
The following table sets forth certain information regarding our case sales for the fiscal years ending March 31, 2008, 2007 and 2006. The data in the following table are based on nine-liter equivalent cases, which is a standard spirits industry metric.
|Years ended March 31,|
|Percentage of Cases|
Critical accounting policies and estimates
The preparation of consolidated financial statements in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles requires us to make a number of estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements. Such estimates and assumptions affect the reported amounts of sales and expenses during the reporting period. On an ongoing basis, we evaluate these estimates and assumptions based upon historical experience and various other factors and circumstances. We believe our estimates and assumptions are reasonable under the circumstances; however, actual results may differ from these estimates under different future conditions.
We believe that the estimates and assumptions discussed below are most important to the portrayal of our financial condition and results of operations in that they require our most difficult, subjective or complex judgments and form the basis for the accounting policies deemed to be most critical to our operations.
We recognize revenue from product sales when the product is shipped to a customer (generally upon shipment to a distributor or to a control state entity), title and risk of loss has passed to the customer in accordance with the terms of sale (FOB shipping point or FOB destination) and collection is reasonably assured. We do not offer a right of return but will accept returns if we shipped the wrong product or wrong quantity. Revenue is not recognized on shipments to control states in the United States until such time as product is sold through to the retail channel.
We record trade accounts receivable at net realizable value. This value includes an appropriate allowance for estimated uncollectible accounts to reflect any loss anticipated on the trade accounts receivable balances and charged to the provision for doubtful accounts. We calculate this allowance based on our history of write-offs, level of past due accounts based on contractual terms of the receivables and our relationships with, and economic status of, our customers.
Our inventory, which consists of distilled spirits, packaging and finished goods, is valued at the lower of cost or market, using the weighted average cost method. We assess the valuation of our inventories and reduce the carrying value of those inventories that are obsolete or in excess of our forecasted usage to their estimated realizable value. We estimate the net realizable value of such inventories based on analyses and assumptions including, but not limited to, historical usage, future demand and market requirements. Reduction to the carrying value of inventories is recorded in cost of goods sold.
Goodwill and other intangible assets
Goodwill represents the excess of purchase price and related costs over the value assigned to the net tangible and identifiable intangible assets of businesses acquired. As of March 31, 2008 and 2007 goodwill and other indefinite lived intangible assets that arose from acquisitions were $3.8 and $13.0 million, respectively. In accordance with SFAS 142, ‘‘Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets’’ (‘‘SFAS 142’’), goodwill and other intangible assets with indefinite lives are not amortized, but instead are tested for impairment annually, or, more frequently if circumstances indicate a possible impairment may exist.
We evaluate the recoverability of goodwill and indefinite lived intangible assets using a two-step impairment test approach at the reporting unit level. In the first step the fair value for the reporting unit is compared to its book value including goodwill. In the case that the fair value of the reporting unit is less than the book value, a second step is performed which compares the implied fair value of the reporting unit’s goodwill to the book value of the goodwill. The fair value for the goodwill is determined based on the difference between the fair values of the reporting units and the net fair values of the identifiable assets and liabilities of such reporting units. If the fair value of the goodwill is less than the book value, the difference is recognized as an impairment.
The fair value of each reporting unit was determined at March 31, 2008 by weighting a combination of the present value of the Company’s discounted anticipated future operating cash flows and values based on market multiples of revenue and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (‘‘EBITDA’’) of comparable companies. Such valuations resulted in the Company recording a goodwill impairment loss of approximately $8.8 million for the year ended March 31, 2008.
SFAS No. 142 also requires that intangible assets with estimable useful lives be amortized over their respective estimated useful lives to the estimated residual values and reviewed for impairment in accordance with SFAS No. 144, ‘‘Accounting for the Impairment or Disposal of Long-Lived Assets.’’
Effective April 1, 2006, we adopted Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 123 (revised 2004), ‘‘Share-Based Payment’’ (‘‘SFAS 123R’’), applying the modified prospective method. Prior to April 1, 2006, we accounted for stock options according to the provisions of Accounting Principles Board Opinion No. 25 , Accounting for Stock Issued to Employees (APB 25), and related interpretations, and therefore no related compensation expense was recorded for awards granted with no intrinsic value.
Compensation cost associated with stock options recognized in the year ended March 31, 2008 includes: 1) respective amortization related to the remaining unvested portion of all stock option
awards granted prior to April 1, 2006 over the requisite service period based on the grant-date fair value estimated in accordance with the original provisions of SFAS 123 , Accounting for Stock-Based Compensation ; and 2) respective amortization related to all stock option awards granted on or subsequent to April 1, 2006, based on the grant-date fair value estimated in accordance with the provisions of SFAS 123R. A compensation charge is recorded when it is probable that performance or service conditions will be satisfied. The probability of vesting is updated annually and compensation is adjusted via a cumulative catch-up adjustment or prospectively depending upon the nature of the change. Under the modified prospective transition method, prior period results have not been restated.
Stock based compensation for the years ended March 31, 2008 and 2007 was $1.1 million and $1.4 million, respectively. We used the Black-Sholes option-pricing model to estimate the fair value of options granted. The assumptions used in valuing the options granted during the years ended March 31, 2008, 2007 and 2006 are included in Note 15 to the consolidated financial statements.
Fair value of financial instruments
SFAS No. 107, ‘‘Disclosures About Fair Value of Financial Instruments,’’ defines the fair value of a financial instrument as the amount at which the instrument could be exchanged in a current transaction between willing parties and requires disclosure of the fair value of certain financial instruments. We believe that there is no material difference between the fair value and the reported amounts of financial instruments in the balance sheets due to the short-term maturity of these instruments, or with respect to the debt, as compared to the current borrowing rates available to us.
Results of operations
The following table sets forth, for the periods indicated, the percentage of net sales of certain items in our financial statements.
|Years ended March 31,|
|Cost of sales||76.2||%||66.7||%||64.6||%|
|General and administrative expense||30.6||%||34.4||%||26.0||%|
|Depreciation and amortization||3.8||%||4.0||%||4.3||%|
|Loss from continuing operations||(107.9||)%||(71.7||)%||(56.6||)%|
|Foreign exchange gain/(loss)||8.2||%||5.4||%||(1.6||)%|
|Interest expense, net||(6.1||)%||(5.4||)%||(7.5||)%|
|Current credit/(charge) on derivative financial instrument||0.7||%||0.5||%||0.1||%|
|Income tax benefit||0.5||%||0.6||%||0.7||%|
|Preferred stock and preferred membership unit dividends||0||%||0.2||%||7.5||%|
|Net loss attributable to common stockholders||(101.0||)%||(66.0||)%||(69.6||)%|
Fiscal year ended March 31, 2008 compared with fiscal year ended March 31, 2007
Net sales. Net sales increased $2.2 million, or 8.6%, to $27.3 million in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2008 from $25.2 million in the comparable prior period. Revenues per case increased 9.0%
as part of our overall pricing strategy. Our increase in net sales also reflects the inclusion of excise and VAT in sales to our distributor in Ireland. Historically, our sales in Ireland have been made ‘‘in-bond’’, net of excise taxes. In September 2007 and again in March 2008, we made sales to our distributor in Ireland ‘‘ex-bond’’ that included $1.9 million and $0.4 million, respectively, in excise taxes and VAT. This increase in excise and VAT in sales to our distributor in Ireland was offset by a change in route to market in the United Kingdom where we now sell ‘‘in-bond.’’ This change resulted in a decrease of $1.7 million in excise and VAT taxes. These taxes are reflected in both our revenues and cost of sales as an equal increase to both.
International case sales volume was negatively impacted primarily by our transition to a new distributor in the Republic of Ireland as well as the timing of reorders in connection with price increases and the relaunch of Boru. Specifically, our new distributor has had difficulty in achieving broad based market penetration. While we anticipate a resolution to the underlying issues, including the possible appointment of a new distributor, will be reached in the near term, the adverse impact on our international sales is expected to continue at least through our next two fiscal quarters.
We recognize that foreign exchange volatility is a reality for an international company as exchange rates can distort the underlying growth of our business (both positively and negatively). To quantify the effect of foreign exchange fluctuations, we have translated current year results at prior year rates. The weakening dollar vis-à-vis the euro and the British pound positively impacted our net sales by 0.4% when measuring our performance on this constant dollar basis.
Our case sales, measured in nine-liter case equivalents, decreased slightly to 313,288, in comparison to the prior year (a decrease of 1,356 cases). Our U.S. case sales as a percentage of total case sales increased to 65.4% during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2008 from 60.1% in the prior fiscal year. This increase reflects the momentum of our portfolio in the U.S., particularly for Boru vodka, our Bourbons and Irish whiskey’s, and the Pallini liqueurs.
The table below presents the increase or decrease, as applicable, in our case sales by product category for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2008 as compared to the prior fiscal year. Current period Whiskey case sales include sales of bourbon products following our acquisition of McLain & Kyne on October 12, 2006. In fiscal 2007, we elected to discontinue sales of a low-margin Irish cream, which resulted in a decrease in the sales of liqueurs. Our international case sales volume was negatively impacted by our transition to a new distributor in the Republic of Ireland, as well as the timing of reorders in connection with price increases and the relaunch of Boru. Specifically, our distributor in the Republic of Ireland has had difficulty in achieving broad based market penetration. While we anticipate a resolution to the underlying issues to be reached in the near term, the adverse impact on our international sales is expected to continue at least through our next two fiscal quarters.