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Grand Metropolitan PLC

Grand Metropolitan PLC

20 St. Jamess Square
London SW1Y 4RR
England
71-321-6000
Fax: 71-321-6001

Public Company
Incorporated: 1934
Employees: 87,163
Sales: £8.12 billion (US$12.49 billion)
Stock Exchanges: London
SICs: 6790 Miscellaneous Investing

Grand Metropolitan PLC is primarily in the business of producing and selling brand name food and alcohol products, but also retains holdings in vision care and fast food from its more diversified days. It is one of the top three wine and spirits companies in the world and is an international food giant as well. Brands controlled by Grand Metropolitan include Baileys, Burger King, Green Giant, Haagen-Dazs, Old El Paso, Pillsbury, Progresso, and Smirnoff.

Born in 1910, Maxwell Joseph left school at the age of 16 to begin a career with local real estate agents in north London. He was paid the equivalent of six dollars per week for selling houses and other property. Shortly after mastering the intricate sales techniques and valuation skills of a successful realtor, Joseph established his own property firm in 1926. That firm has grown to be Grand Metropolitan, now one of Britains largest and most diversified companies.

Throughout the late 1920s and the 1930s, Joseph attempted to purchase properties that would bring a high return when resold by his firm. Because the English economy was in the midst of a depression, however, there were few prospective buyers and even fewer who could offer the kind of money that would meet his profit criteria. The advent of World War II further deflated Josephs hopes for a prosperous business.

Josephs firm finally began to move toward success after the War, with the purchase of the damaged Mandeville Hotel in the Marylebone district of London in 1946. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s Grand Metropolitan expanded through the development and purchase of new hotels. Joseph later admitted that he bought these hotels for chicken feed. Between 1950 and 1965, he said, there wasnt a real estate man in the country who knew the value of hotels. Joseph did; moreover, he understood what they would be worth in the future.

Grand Metropolitans base of operations widened as Joseph continued to purchase more profitable and more prestigious hotels. The first such acquisition was Londons Mount Royal Hotel, acquired in 1957 for $2.8 million. Grand Metropolitan quickly followed that takeover with purchases of a number of other luxury hotels throughout Europe. In Paris, Joseph purchased the Lotti Hotel; in Cannes, the Carlton Hotel; and in Copenhagen, the Hotel dAngleterre. By the end of the 1960s, Grand Metropolitan had established a significant presence in the European hotel industry.

Because of the financial success of the Grand Metropolitan hotels, Maxwell Joseph felt confident enough to embark on a new strategy of diversification. He initiated the purchase of Express Dairies in 1969. The two-part purchase was completed in 1970 with approval from the shareholders of Grand Metropolitan and the former owners of Express Dairies. Because this purchase had received firm shareholder support, Grand Metropolitan went on to purchase Berni Inns, Ron Nagle, and Truman Hanburg. Of these varied acquisitions, the Truman Hanburg deal was the most significant because it was Grand Metropolitans first brewery. This particular acquisition also involved the largest takeover deal in Britain up to that timethe purchase price amounted to £400 million.

Seeking a financially equivalent takeover in 1972, Joseph purchased the Watney-Mann brewery. His purchase of Watney was fully justified in terms of company strategy. Grand Metropolitan already had a 49 percent stake in Carlsberg, a Danish brewer. Stanley Grinstead, the deputy chairman of Grand Metropolitan, and Maxwell Joseph were concerned that although they owned almost half of Carlsberg, they had no control over what brands were brewed. At the time, Carlsberg brewed only the Carlsberg and Tuborg brands of beer. Grand Metropolitan felt that if it wished to expand in the beer market, it must acquire and control a less parochial beer company such as Watney-Mann.

Despite the future positive effects that all of these extensive purchases could have produced, Grand Metropolitan had incurred a large debt, particularly as a result of the purchases of Truman Hanburg, Express Dairies, and Watney-Mann. There were management failures at Watney-Mann which exposed Grand Metropolitan to severe financial losses. Furthermore, the companys expansion into Italy and France could not be effectively controlled from London. The company learned that it had to send special advisers into the foreign country in order to establish partnerships and gain a share of the marketbut that, too, was a costly lesson.

In 1974 the companys debt peaked at £528 million, and Grand Metropolitan was forced to sell some of its smaller businesses to decrease that debt. For example, Joseph decided to sell the Royal Manhattan Hotel of New York and close the Vandenheu-vel Brewery, which was one of Watney-Manns three breweries in Belgium; neither enterprise had been particularly profitable. To further decrease debt, Grand Metropolitan also sold its shares in Carlsberg beer for £5.39 million. By these and other similar moves, Grand Metropolitan began to reduce debt substantially and to reposition itself for a more careful acquisition strategy.

Grand Metropolitans 1977 purchase of a 20 percent share in Pleasurama, a casino operator, was one of its most important of the decade. Pleasurama and Grand Metropolitan already operated a joint venture, the A.M Casino, an enterprise located in Grand Metropolitans Ritz Hotel in London. With the Pleasurama purchase, Joseph increased shareholders equity above the level of debt for the first time since 1969.

Joseph had passed the usual retirement age of 65 in 1975, but he had refused to relinquish his chairmanship. He continued to distrust younger and less experienced associates with business decisions, and he insisted on personally approving all major transactions. Under Josephs guidance, Grand Metropolitan embarked in the late 1970s on a second series of acquisitions in which leveraged buyouts, takeovers that incur huge debt, were carefully avoided. Occasionally, too, Joseph disposed of companies that were, in fact, profitable. Grand Metropolitan had purchased the Savoy Hotel Group from Trafalgar House in 1978. The Savoy Group was profitable, but it yielded only a 2 percent return. Joseph sold the Savoy Group to the Rothschild Investment Trust for £8.4 million, and Grand Metropolitan subsequently invested in other higher-yielding businesses.

For many years the Liggett Group, an American tobacco and liquor company, distributed Grand Metropolitans J & B brand Scotch whisky in the United States. In 1980, on reported sales equivalent to $6.2 billion, Grand Metropolitan made a $415 million tender offer for Liggetta move that also signalled a change in Josephs attitude toward the American market, which he had in the past avoided. In purchasing Liggett, Grand Metropolitan would also gain control of Austin Nichols, a Liggett subsidiary well-established in the American liquor market. Shortly after Grand Metropolitan had made its bid, however, Liggett sold Austin Nichols to Pernod Ricard for $97.5 million. The Paddington Corporation, the Liggett subsidiary responsible for marketing J & B Scotch, therefore became Grand Metropolitans main concern in the tender offer.

Liggetts management was strongly opposed to a takeover by Grand Metropolitan, fearing above all that Joseph would replace them with managers from Grand Metropolitan. As Liggett mounted a legal battle to thwart Grand Metropolitan, Standard Brands entered a competing bid of $513 million. Determined to succeed, Grand Metropolitan raised its tender offer to $590 milliona price that Standard Brands could not top and Liggett shareholders could not refuse.

In a separate, less successful bid, Grand Metropolitan failed to gain control over the Coral Leisure Group during 1980. The companys bid, valued at £85 million, was opposed by many shareholders who lacked confidence in Corals ability to generate profit or future growth. Yet the decision to abandon Coral was, in effect made by the English Monopolies Commission, which ruled against the takeover.

The continued involvement of the Monopolies Commission in Grand Metropolitans affairs brought to light an increasingly urgent shortcoming in the companys position: Grand Metropolitan had overemphasized its growth within Britain. With nearly 90 percent of its profits generated domestically, Grand Metropolitan would face other charges of monopoly control over certain markets if it continued to invest in British enterprises. The companys overexposure within the British economy became problematic in 1980, when the country entered a period of recession. In response, Grand Metropolitan inaugurated three- and four-year management plans, intended to improve short-term planning until the company could diversify geographically.

Grand Metropolitan achieved greater financial stability in 1981, largely due to Liggetts success in selling Baileys Original Irish Cream and J & B Scotch in the United States. Increased sales of these products justified larger advertising budgets for them, which, in turn, helped to maintain their increased market shares. In order to derive greater profits from liquor sales in Britain, Grand Metropolitan attempted to enter the retail liquor business. But because the British government did not permit producers and distributors of liquor to own retail outlets, Grand Metropolitan was forced to adopt a different strategy: the company subleased its bars and restaurants to outside management, and thus circumvented the restrictions, while drawing at least a portion of the profits earned from retail liquor and food sales.

By 1982 Grand Metropolitan owned 66 hotels in Europe and the Middle East. That year, the company agreed to purchase the Inter-Continental Hotel chain, consisting of 110 hotels, from Pan American World Airways in exchange for $500 million, Grand Metropolitans Forum Hotel chain, and several other smaller hotel properties. The Monopolies Commission, however, became so involved in this transaction that Grand Metropolitan at last decided to end its concentration on European markets. Thereafter, the company redirected investment capital to the largely unrestricted markets of the United States, where it established an American subsidiary called GrandMet USA Inc. This company was given direct responsibility for the operations of Liggett and three new companies: Western Dairy Products, in California; Express Foods Inc., in Vermont; and Dry Milks Inc., in Kentucky.

In Britain, Grand Metropolitan divested itself of both marginally performing subsidiaries and companies the operations of which were considered peripheral to Grand Metropolitans core industries. CC Soft Drinks Ltd., a subsidiary that bottled and distributed Coca-Cola in southern England, was sold to the Coca-Cola Export Corporation in 1984. The following year Grand Metropolitan sold its Express Dairy subsidiary to Northern Foods for £51 million. Northern Foods subsequently purchased four other Grand Metropolitan dairies and a distributor, reducing Grand Metropolitans share of the dairy market by one-third. Proceeds from these divestments were used to strengthen Grand Metropolitans hotel and entertainment division, which in 1985 purchased the profitable Mecca Leisure group for £95 million.

During 1985, however, Grand Metropolitan again altered its corporate strategy. Because they correctly anticipated the phenomenal growth of health care services in the United States, the companys board decided to make investments in that industry a company priority. Grand Metropolitan acquired Quality Care Inc., a large home health care and medical equipment company, and soon afterwards purchased an interest in Pearl Health Services. After it was taken over by Grand Metropolitan, Pearl established a large chain of dental and eye care centers intended to exploit opportunities in the American market for medical services in shopping malls and retail thoroughfares.

Grand Metropolitan appointed a new chief executive officer, Allen Sheppard, in 1987. Under the guidance of Sheppard and his heir apparent, CEO George J. Bull (who had spent three decades at the International Distillers & Vintners Ltd. subsidiary), Grand Metropolitan would over the next several years reposition itself again, this time to focus on its core business of branded food and alcohol. Operations outside these areas were to be sold off when financially tenable. Health care was one of the first to be deemphasized even though the company had only recently entered the field. Sheppard believed that opportunities in this industry had already been exploited and advocated the sale of Quality Care before the industry became unprofitably competitive.

In March 1987 Grand Metropolitan bolstered its liquor holdings by acquiring Heublein Inc. from RJR Nabisco for $1.3 billion. Heublein had lost many of its nonbeverage operations while a subsidiary of RJR Nabisco, but its beverages included such brands as Smirnoff vodka, Arrow liqueurs, Harveys Bristol Cream sherry, and Guinness Stoutbrands now controlled by Grand Metropolitan. The firm exited from another business in 1988 when it sold the Inter-Continental Hotel chain to Seibu Saison for 52 times earnings.

Flush with money from the hotel sale and needing to do something with it to avoid being taken over itself, Grand Metropolitan sought an acquisition that would enhance its food sector. It settled on the troubled U.S. food giant Pillsbury Company. Since Pillsburys management had developed a plan to turn the company around and wanted the chance to implement it, they fought Grand Metropolitans takeover bid. A few months later, however, in December 1988, Grand Metropolitan increased its bid to $66 a share (a total of $5.68 billion in cash), an offer that Pillsbury reluctantly accepted. This huge takeover brought a host of important brands to the Grand Metropolitan fold, including Pillsbury bakery items, Green Giant frozen vegetables, Haagen-Dazs ice cream, and the Burger King fast-food chain.

Ironically, Grand Metropolitan essentially adopted the brand-revitalization and restructuring plan proposed by Pillsburys ousted executives, although perhaps in much more aggressive fashion. Within a year, $150 million in expenses had been eliminated, 3,350 jobs were cut, $140 million was invested in Pillsbury plants, advertising was increased, and quality-improvement and new product development programs were bolstered. Haagen-Dazs and Burger King were separated from Pillsbury and became distinct subsidiaries. Burger King had struggled along with the rest of Pillsbury, so Grand Metropolitan increased advertising and promotions and quickly introduced a broiled chicken sandwich which had been in the development stage for years but was never introduced under Pillsbury. Within a few months of introduction the chicken sandwiches were selling at a clip of a million a day, already half the number of popular Whopper burgers sold per day.

Grand Metropolitan also aimed to take the Pillsbury brands global. Under Pillsbury, Burger King never had the resources to expand internationally. Less than a year after purchasing Pillsbury, though, Grand Metropolitan had acquired the Wimpey hamburger chain in England, then converted 150 of them into Burger Kings. France and Hungary were also targeted for expansion. The Green Giant and Haagen-Dazs brands were also slated for ambitious international growth over the next several years.

With its absorption of Pillsbury incomplete and its holdings not yet reduced to the food and alcohol core, Grand Metropolitan struggled during the early 1990s partly because of restructuring costs, such as the $700 million spent in 1993 and 1994, but also to falling alcohol sales. Consumption of liquor was dropping in the United States and elsewhere during this period, hurting sales of all the major alcohol companies. To make up for lost sales, many companies turned to price increases and an emphasis on premium brands, which helped Grand Metropolitan until it suffered the blow of losing the distribution rights to Absolut vodka and Grand Marnier liqueur. Grand Metropolitan was particularly vulnerable since its alcohol sector provided a disproportionate amount of its profits. For instance, in 1993 alcohol generated only 42 percent of its sales revenue but 54 percent of its operating profit. As a result, companywide sales which had peaked at £9.39 billion in 1990 dropped to £8.12 billion by 1993, and net income which had peaked at £1.07 billion in 1990 had fallen to £413 million by 1993.

Contributing to the companys difficulty was the heavy debt it still held from the Pillsbury takeover, amounting to $4.2 billion in 1993. To reduce this load and to further concentrate the firms holdings, Grand Metropolitan shed additional businesses in 1994 and 1995. In 1994 it sold the Chef & Brewer pub chain for $1.1 billion and its Alpo pet food unit to Nestl é for $510 million. The following year it sold its Van de Kamps frozen seafood and frozen dessert business to an investment partnership for $190 million. Rumors also surfaced in 1995 that Burger King would be spun off, and further speculation held that the Pearle Vision Center chain would be sold once it returned to profitability. Earlier in 1995, however, Grand Metropolitan had gone shopping again, this time netting Pet, Inc. for $2.6 billion, gaining such brands as Old El Paso Mexican food products and Progresso soups, and seemingly entrenching itself further into the branded food business.

To many observers, Grand Metropolitan remained in the mid-1990s a puzzle whose pieces did not all quite fit together. The company was certainly much less of a conglomerate than in the past, but had not yet fully committed itself to branded food and drink products. Sheppard retired in January 1996 and Bell became chairman, which appeared to indicate that Grand Metropolitan would stay the course and continue to concentrate on its core businesses.

Principal Subsidiaries

GrandMet Foods UK; Grand Metropolitan Community Services-UK; Grand Metropolitan Estates; Grand Metropolitan Information Services Ltd.; Entrepreneur; International Distillers & Vintners Ltd.; Memory Lane Cakes Ltd.; Peters Savoury Products; Burger King Corporation (U.S.); Green Giant International Inc. (U.S.); The Haagen-Dazs Company Inc. (U.S.); Heublein Inc. (U.S.); Pearle Inc. (U.S.); The Pillsbury Company (U.S.).

Further Reading

Cuff, Daniel F., De-Cluttering a British Conglomerate, New York Times, March 12, 1989, p. F9.

Flynn, Julia, and Laura Zinn, Absolut Pandemonium: As Liquor Sales Fall, Companies Are Battling for Premium Brands, Business Week, November 8, 1993, pp. 58-59.

Flynn, Julia, Lois Therrien, and Gail DeGeorge, A Grand Design for Grand Met, Business Week, December 20, 1993, pp. 58-59.

Grand Metropolitan PLC Annual Reports, London: Grand Metropolitan PLC, 1934-94.

Howard, Theresa, Lord Allen Sheppard: Chairman, Grand Metropolitan PLC, London, Nations Restaurant News, January 1995, pp. 192-193.

Jaffe, Thomas, Pillsburys New Doughboys?, Forbes, October 31, 1988, p. 174.

Papa, Mary Bader, Run, Doughboy, Run, Corporate Report-Minnesota, July 1990, p. 39.

Reader, W. J., Grand Metropolitan: A History, 1962-1987, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.

updated by David E. Salamie

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Grand Metropolitan Plc

Grand Metropolitan Plc

11-12 Hanover Square
London W1A 1DP
England
01-629-7488

Public Company
Incorporated: 1934
Employees: 137,195
Sales: £5.287 billion (US$7.772 billion)
Market value: £5.064 billion (US$7.445 billion)
Stock Index: London

Grand Metropolitan is a highly diversified British-based company. It began as a property company, but its subsidiaries now cover a broad base of consumer products and services, including hotels, casinos, breweries, dairies, distilleries, and health care services. Maxwell Joseph, the founder of Grand Metropolitan, encouraged the rapid growth of his company by supporting acquisitions in profitable fields; its diversification has been indicative of the companys quest for maximum profits and maximum control of selected markets.

Born in 1910, Maxwell Joseph left school at the age of 16 to begin a career with local real estate agents in north London. He was paid the equivalent of six dollars per week for selling houses and other property. Shortly after mastering the intricate sales techniques and valuation skills of a successful realtor, Joseph established his own property firm in 1926, and that firm has grown to be Grand Metropolitan, now one of Britains largest and most diversified companies.

Throughout the late 1920s and the 1930s, Joseph attempted to purchase good properties which would bring a high return when resold by his firm. However, because the English economy was in the midst of a depression, there were few prospective buyers and even fewer who could offer the kind of money that would meet his profit criteria. The advent of World War II deflated Josephs hopes for a prosperous business.

Josephs firm finally began to move toward success, after the war, with the purchase of the blitz-damaged Mandeville Hotel in the Marylebone district of London in 1946. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s Grand Metropolitan expanded through the development and purchase of new hotels. Joseph later admitted that he bought these hotels for chicken feed. Between 1950 and 1965, he said, there wasnt a real estate man in the country who knew the value of hotels. Joseph did; moreover, he understood what they would be worth in the future.

Grand Metropolitans base of operations widened as Joseph continued to purchase both more profitable and more prestigious hotels. The first such acquisition was Londons Mount Royal Hotel, acquired in 1957 for $2.8 million. Grand Metropolitan quickly followed that takeover with purchases of a number of other luxury hotels throughout Europe. In Paris, Joseph purchased the Lotti Hotel; in Cannes, the Carlton Hotel; in Copenhagen, the Hotel dAngleterre. By the end of the 1960s, Grand Metropolitan had established a significant presence in the European hotel industry.

Because of the financial success of the Grand Metropolitan hotels, Maxwell Joseph felt confident enough to embark on a new strategy of diversification. He initiated the purchase of Express Dairies in 1969. The two-part purchase was completed in 1970 with approval from the shareholders of Grand Metropolitan and the former owners of Express Dairies. Because this purchase had received firm shareholder support, Grand Metropolitan went on to purchase Berni Inns, Ron Nagle, and Truman Hanburg. Of these varied acquisitions, the Truman Hanburg deal was the most significant because it was Grand Metropolitans first brewery. This particular acquisition also involved the largest takeover deal in Britain up to that time the purchase price amounted to £400 million.

Seeking a financially equivalent takeover in 1972, Joseph purchased the Watney-Mann brewery. His purchase of Watney was fully justified in terms of company strategy. Grand Metropolitan already had a 49% stake in Carlsberg, a Danish brewer. Stanley Grinstead, the deputy chairman of Grand Metropolitan, and Maxwell Joseph were concerned that although they owned almost half of Carlsberg, they had no control over what brands were brewed. At the time, Carlsberg brewed only the Carlsberg and Tuborg brands of beer. Grand Metropolitan felt that, if it wished to expand in the beer market, it must acquire and control a less parochial beer company such as Watney-Mann.

Despite the future positive effects which all of these extensive purchases could have produced, Grand Metropolitan had incurred a large debt, particularly as a result of the purchases of Truman Hanburg, Express Dairies, and Watney-Mann. There were management failures at Watney-Mann which exposed Grand Metropolitan to severe financial losses. Furthermore, the companys expansion into Italy and France could not be effectively controlled from London. The company learned that it had to send special advisers into the foreign country in order to establish partnerships and gain a share of the marketbut that, too, was a costly lesson.

In 1974 the companys debt peaked at £528 million, and Grand Metropolitan was forced to sell some of its smaller businesses to decrease that debt. For example, Joseph decided to sell the Royal Manhattan Hotel of New York and close the Vandenheuvel Brewery, which was one of Watney-Manns three breweries in Belgium; neither enterprise had been particularly profitable. To further decrease debt, Grand Metropolitan also sold its shares in Carlsberg beer for £5.39 million. By these and other similar moves, Grand Metropolitan began to reduce debt substantially and to reposition itself for a more careful acquisition strategy.

Grand Metropolitans 1977 purchase of 20% share in Pleasurama, a casino operator, was one of its most important of the decade. Pleasurama and Grand Metropolitan already operated a joint venture, the A.M Casino, an enterprise located in Grand Metropolitans Ritz Hotel in London. With the Pleasurama purchase, Joseph increased shareholders equity above the level of debt for the first time since 1969.

Jospeh had passed the usual retirement age of 65 in 1975, but he had refused to relinquish his chairmanship. He continued to distrust younger and less experienced associates with business decisions, and he insisted on personally approving all major transactions. Under Josephs guidance, Grand Metropolitan embarked in the late 1970s on a second series of acquisitions in which leveraged buyouts, takeovers that incur huge debt, were carefully avoided. Occasionally, too, Joseph disposed of companies that were, in fact, profitable. Grand Metropolitan had purchased the Savoy Hotel Group from Trafalgar House in 1978. The Savoy Group was profitable, but it yielded only a 2% return. Joseph sold the Savoy Group to the Rothschild Investment Trust for £8.4 million, and Grand Metropolitan subsequently invested in other higheryielding businesses.

For many years the Liggett Group, an American tobacco and liquor company, distributed Grand Metropolitans J&B brand Scotch whisky in the United States. In 1980, on reported sales equivalent to $6.2 billion, Grand Metropolitan made a $415 million tender offer for Liggetta move that also signalled a change in Josephs attitude toward the American market, which he had in the past avoided. In purchasing Liggett, Grand Metropolitan would also gain control of Austin Nichols, a Liggett subsidiary well-established in the American liquor market. Shortly after Grand Metropolitan had made its bid, however, Liggett sold Austin Nichols to Pernod Ricard for $97.5 million. The Paddington Corporation, the Liggett subsidiary responsible for marketing J&B Scotch, therefore became Grand Metropolitans main concern in the tender offer.

Liggetts management was strongly opposed to a takeover by Grand Metropolitan, fearing above all that Joseph would replace them with managers from Grand Metropolitan. As Liggett mounted a legal battle to thwart Grand Metropolitan, Standard Brands entered a competing bid of $513 million. Determined to succeed, Grand Metropolitan raised its tender offer to $590 milliona price that Standard Brands could not top and Liggett shareholders could not refuse.

In a separate, less successful bid, Grand Metropolitan failed to gain control over the Coral Leisure Group during 1980. The companys bid, valued at £85 million, was opposed by many shareholders who lacked confidence in Corals ability to generate profit or future growth. Yet the decision to abandon Coral was, in effect made by the English Monopolies Commission, which ruled against the takeover.

The continued involvement of the Monopolies Commission in Grand Metropolitans affairs brought to light an increasingly urgent shortcoming in the companys position: Grand Metropolitan had overemphasized its growth within Britain. With nearly 90% of its profits generated domestically, Grand Metropolitan would face other charges of monopoly control over certain markets if it continued to invest in British enterprises. The companys overexposure within the British economy became problematic in 1980, when the country entered a period of recession. In response, Grand Metropolitan inaugurated three- and four-year management plans, intended to improve shortterm planning until the company could diversify geographically.

Grand Metropolitan achieved greater financial stability in 1981, largely due to Liggetts success in selling Baileys Original Irish Cream and J&B Scotch in the United States. Increased sales of these products justified larger advertising budgets for them, which, in turn, helped to maintain their increased market shares. In order to derive greater profits from liquor sales in Britain, Grand Metropolitan attempted to enter the retail liquor business. But because the British government did not permit producers and distributors of liquor to own retail outlets, Grand Metropolitan was forced to adopt a different strategy: the company sub-leased its bars and restaurants to outside management, and thus circumvented the restrictions, while drawing at least a portion of the profits earned from retail liquor and food sales.

By 1982 Grand Metropolitan owned 66 hotels in Europe and the Middle East. That year, the company agreed to purchase the Intercontinental Hotel chain, consisting of 110 hotels, from Pan American World Airways in exchange for $500 million, Grand Metropolitans Forum Hotel chain, and several other smaller hotel properties. The Monopolies Commission, however, became so involved in this transaction that Grand Metropolitan at last decided to end its concentration on European markets. Thereafter, the company redirected investment capital to the largely unrestricted markets of the United States, where it established an American subsidiary called GrandMet USA Inc. This company was given direct responsibility for the operations of Liggett and three new companies: Western Dairy Products, in California; Express Foods Inc., in Vermont; and Dry Milks Inc., in Kentucky.

In Britain, Grand Metropolitan divested itself of both marginally performing subsidiaries and companies the operations of which were considered peripheral to Grand Metropolitans core industries. CC Soft Drinks Ltd., a subsidiary which bottled and distributed Coca-Cola in southern England, was sold to the Coca-Cola Export Corporation in 1984. The following year, Grand Metropolitan sold its Express Dairy subsidiary to Northern Foods for £51 million. Northern Foods subsequently purchased four other Grand Metropolitan dairies and a distributor, reducing Grand Metropolitans share of the dairy market by one-third. Proceeds from these divestments were used to strengthen Grand Metropolitans hotel and entertainment division, which in 1985 purchased the profitable Mecca Leisure group for £95 million.

During 1985, however, Grand Metropolitan again altered its corporate strategy. Because they correctly anticipated the phenomenal growth of health care services in the United States, the companys board decided to make investments in that industry a company priority. Grand Metropolitan acquired Quality Care Inc., a large home health care and medical equipment company, and soon afterwards purchased an interest in Pearl Health Services. After it was taken over by Grand Metropolitan, Pearl established a large chain of dental and eye care centers intended to exploit opportunities in the American market for medical services in shopping malls and retail thoroughfares.

Despite the promising new health care ventures, Grand Metropolitan remained committed to its profitable hotel and entertainment division. After some deliberation, the company even refused a $900 million offer from Trafalgar of California to purchase the Intercontinental Hotel chain.

Grand Metropolitan appointed a new chief executive officer, Allen Sheppard, in 1987. Although the company had only recently entered the health care field, Sheppard believed that opportunities in this industry had already been exploited; he advocated the sale of Quality Care before the industry became unprofitably competitive. Grand Metropolitan thus halted its expansion in health care and resumed its purchases of core enterprises. In March 1987 Grand Metropolitan acquired Heublein Inc. from RJR Nabisco for $1.3 billion. Heublein had lost many of its non-beverage operations while a subsidiary of RJR Nabisco, but its beverages included such brands as Smirnoff vodka, Arrow liqueurs, Harveys Bristol Cream sherry, and Guinness Stout beerbrands now controlled by Grand Metropolitan.

Grand Metropolitan may be expected to remain primarily a hotel, entertainment, and beverage company. Its expertise and ability to maintain stable operations in these fields suggest that Grand Metropolitans future is relatively secure, particularly if it can continue to avoid the kind of debt that threatened to undermine its activities during the early 1970s.

Principal Subsidiaries

Samuel Webster and Wilsons Ltd.; Ushers Brewery Ltd.; Watney-Mann and Truman Martings Ltd.; Watney Combe Reid & Co., Ltd.; Truman Ltd.; Phoenix Brewery Company Ltd.; Drybrough and Company Ltd.; Watney-Mann and Truman Brewers Export Ltd.; Watney-Mann National Sales Ltd.; Watney International Ltd.; Brouwerij Maes NV; Stern Braueri Carl Funke A.G. (78.3%); The Berni and Host Group Ltd.; Mecca Bookmakers Ltd.; London Clubs Ltd.; Compass Contact Services (UK) Ltd.; Grandmet International Services Ltd.; GM Health Care Ltd.; GrandMet USA Inc.; Alpo Petfoods Inc.; Atlantic Soft Drink Co.; Pepsi-Cola San Joaquin Bottling Co.; Liggett Group Inc.; Manns Northampton Brewery Co., Ltd.; Norwich Brewery Co., Ltd.; Diversified Products Corp.; Childrens World Inc.; Eden Vale Ltd.; Heublein Inc.; Pearl Health Services Inc.; Intercontinental Hotels Corp.; International Distillers and Vintners Ltd.; Paddington Corp.; Carillon Importers Ltd.; Gilbey Canada Inc.; International Distillers and Vintners France S.A.; Selviac Nederland BV; Gilbey Vintners Ltd.; Morgan Furze & Co., Ltd.; Peter Dominic Ltd.; W&A Gilbey (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd. (51%); Justerini & Brooks Ltd.; Gilbeys of Ireland Ltd.; Croft Jerez S.A.; Croft & Ca Ltda.; International Distillers (Developments) Ltd.; Grand Metropolitan Information Services Ltd.; Grand Metropolitan Biotechnology Ltd.

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"Grand Metropolitan Plc." International Directory of Company Histories. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/grand-metropolitan-plc