Stoli To Leave William Grant USA Portfolio In 2013, As Owner SPI Takes Control Of BrandNovember 14, 2012
Stolichnaya, William Grant & Sons USA’s biggest brand, will be leaving the marketer’s portfolio when its distribution and marketing pact expires on December 31, 2013. Stoli’s owner, Russia’s SPI Group, said earlier today that it would be establishing its own importing arm to handle the iconic vodka brand in the U.S., commencing operations on January 1, 2014.
“Stoli is the crown jewel of the SPI Group,” said Val Mendeleev, CEO, SPI Group, in a statement. “As a company with strong entrepreneurial spirit, the time has come for us to make our path forward on our own in the U.S. We thank William Grant & Sons for their contributions to Stoli, and we look forward to what will be a continuing future of innovation and success for the Stolichnaya brand.”
William Grant & Sons USA began importing and marketing Stoli in the U.S. in 2009 (it had previously been marketed by Pernod Ricard USA, which acquired rival Absolut in 2008), and the Russian vodka brand—with yearly U.S. sales of more than 1 million cases greater than any other William Grant brand—instantly became the anchor of the marketer’s efforts. However, between the economic downturn and the remarkable rise of lower-priced imported vodkas like Pinnacle, Svedka and Sobieski, Stoli has been unable to achieve solid growth under William Grant’s stewardship. In 2008, the brand sold 1.98 million cases in the U.S. (down from nearly 2.2 million cases the year prior). In 2009, that figure fell to 1.84 million cases and again slipped the next year, to 1.80 million cases. Last year, Stoli enjoyed a slight improvement in the U.S., rising by roughly 1% to 1.82 million cases.
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