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Desnoes and McConnell launch Select Brands

BY AL EDWARDS

Friday, November 04, 2011

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DAVID McConnell and Andrew Desnoes, both formerly of Lascelles deMercado the parent of spirits giant J Wray & Nephew, have branched out on their own to form Select Brands, a brand company that distributes well-known products. The company will begin its operations by distributing wines and spirits before going on to foods and other goods. Both men will serve equally as managing director.

They have secured premises at 379 Spanish Town Road, opposite Red Stripe's headquarters. This consists of 20, 000 square feet of which 5,000 square feet is set aside as bonded and chilled facilities for its premium wine offerings. Both young men are scions of the country's leading beverage producing families.

Andrew hails from the Desnoes family famed for Desnoes & Geddes, Red Stripe beer and other soft drink beverages. McConnell is the son of Billy McConnell, former managing director of J Wray & Nephew who later headed one of the Caribbean's leading conglomerates, Lascelles deMercado.

He is credited with doing a good job of making the group profitable and has reported J$3 billion in net profits during his tenure before he stepped down earlier this year. David McConnell served as Managing Director of J Wray & Nephew, the spirits arm of Lascelles deMercado, before he also gave up his seat on the Board of Directors of Lascelles deMercado.

Andrew Desnoes has served as General Manager for Marketing for Lascelles Wines and Spirits before becoming Chief Operations Officer for J Wray & Nephew.
Speaking with Caribbean Business Report from their new headquarters on the Spanish Town Road, both men said that they decided to go off on their own after garnering considerable experience in the business.

Andrew Desnoes explained: "I have 18 years in this business and David (McConnell) has over 10. We were in Montego Bay one evening mulling over what is taking place at both Lascelles and Red Stripe and came to the conclusion that we could go into business for ourselves rather than be held hostage to circumstance. We both have young families and the environment seems very uncertain right now. So why not establish our own distribution company and begin with what we know, which is liquor."

Both men went on to add that Select Brands is 100 per cent capitalised, but would not be drawn on their initial capital investment. Instead they proffered that, over the next 3 to 5 years, they anticipate sales of J$1 billion and that over the next 10 years they are aiming to have 20 per cent of the wine and spirits market.
David McConnell then added: "The former manager of imported wines at Lascelles, Debra Taylor, has joined us and she will head up our wine division. She is undoubtedly the best in the business. As of Monday, Dominic Beckford, Overproof Rum Brand Sales Manager of Lascelles will also become a part of our senior management team and will be in charge of our spirits arm. We are still looking to recruit talent. Already we have employed 20 persons directly and another 20 indirectly. Our sales force hits the roads of Jamaica this coming Monday. We are looking to employ many people and be a force first in Jamaica and then in the Caribbean region. My wife Tanya will be joining the team as Corporate Marketing Manager.

On the wine side Select Brands has started out with a number of key brands among them are Bolla Italian wines, Robert Mondavi wines from California, Catena Malbec of Argentina and Santa Margherita Wines of Italy. Select Brands will be adding other premium wine brands to that list in short time.

On the spirits side it will be the exclusive dealer for Stolichnaya Vodka and Glenfiddich single malt Scotch. Here too it intends to quickly add to its spirits offering. These brands were all previously in the Caribbean Producers Jamaica (CPJ) stable but will now transition to Select Brands. CPJ has, it is said, been very gracious and accommodating here.

Select Brands is looking to make its mark during the upcoming Christmas season and is open for business. It sees opportunities in both the tourism and entertainment sector.

"Although we have started with the liquor brands, notably wines and spirits, we will be venturing into other areas. We will be supplying Jamaica with all the top brands in all areas and will be living up to the company's name, Select Brands," said the Managing Director Andrew Desnoes.

 


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