September 29, 2015 / 9:40 PM / 3 years ago

Brown-Forman seeks to sell Southern Comfort, Chambord: sources

Bottles showing the barrel aging process are seen at the Jack Daniel's distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee May 10, 2011. REUTERS/ Martinne Geller

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) - Brown-Forman Corp (BFb.N), the maker of Jack Daniel’s whiskey, has hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) to explore the sale of brands that include liqueur labels Southern Comfort and Chambord, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Louisville, Kentucky-based company wants to focus on its core whiskey business, centered on its top-selling Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey brand, the sources said this week.

The process is at an early stage, though Brown-Forman has already reached out to potential buyers, the sources said. Collectively, the brands could be valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars, the sources added, asking not to be named because the matter is confidential.

Goldman Sachs and Brown-Forman declined to comment.

Southern Comfort’s net sales declined 7 percent in the company’s most recent fiscal year, hit by competition from flavored whiskeys. In the same period, the Jack Daniel’s business increased sales by net 5 percent.

    Brown-Forman purchased the Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee, in 1956. The company’s other whiskey brands include Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Early Times and Canadian Whisky.

The company’s third liqueur brand is Tuaca. It also sells tequila, including Don Eduardo and vodka, including Finlandia. It purchased Southern Comfort in 1979 and Chambord in 2006.

Reporting by Lauren Hirsch in New York and Freya Berry in London; Additional reporting Martinne Geller in London; Editing by Carmel Crimmins and Lisa Shumaker

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