Bethenny Frankel sells Skinnygirl cocktail brand to Fortune Brands
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/22/2011
Bethenny Frankel's Skinnygirl spirits brand is going big.
The Bethenny Ever After star's Skinnygirl low-calorie margarita brand has been acquired by Fortune Brands Inc., which plans to increase its distribution and expand the brand to additional cocktails, The Wall Street Journalreported Tuesday.
Launched 18 months ago when she was still co-starring in The Real Housewives of New York City, Frankel's Skinnygirl Margarita -- a bottled cocktail that contains only 100 calories per four-ounce serving -- currently only has limited distribution (mostly in New York, New Jersey and Florida) but has reportedly been in high demand as its popularity continues to rise among women seeking convenient, low-calorie cocktails.
According to The Journal, Fortune's Beam Global Spirits and Wine Inc. unit plans to introduce other drinks under the Skinnygirl label, including a white sangria.
"To us, this is the beginning of what we hope will be a very big category," Beam executive Bill Newlands told The Journal. "We think [Skinnygirl] is a tremendous platform to put other premium, convenient, low-calorie products on the market."
While the terms of the sale were not disclosed, Frankel has reportedly signed a multi-year deal to remain heavily involved in developing and promoting the spirits brand. However, David Kanbar -- a liquor-industry veteran who had launched the brand with Frankel -- will no longer play a role.
Although Beam Global would not reveal Skinnygirl's revenue, the brand's sales exceed 100,000 cases a year, The Journal reported, and its popularity has been increasing so quickly that Frankel's company had difficulty keeping up with demand. Skinnygirl Margarita currently ranks as the spirits industry's fastest growing ready-to-drink product in the U.S., according to Beam.
Frankel told The Journal it was "a very difficult decision" to sell Skinnygirl but that she fundamentally "wanted big muscle [behind it] and wanted it now."